Title: Ashes to Ashes
Publication Date: January 14, 2019
Length: 256 pages
Reviewed by Racheal
In the wake of tragedy, Maxwell Williams is searching for an answer to his life and where to go from here. After his late husband dies, he is left to fend for himself and care after the legacy Brogan Baxter left behind—their seven-year-old daughter, Lily. Being twelve years Brogan’s junior, Max questions if his busy schedule and current skillsets equip him to be a single father. Besides, as a world renowned fashion photographer, he’s away from home two or three weeks each month. He couldn’t begin to fathom fathering Lily, a moderately autistic child, all by himself.
Just weeks after Brogan’s funeral, a Fed-Ex certified letter arrives in Max’s office that stands to change the rest of his and Lily’s life forever. After some soul searching, Maxwell decides he wants to leave the hustle of Denver and hunt for a home on the Northwestern Coastline. This opportunity affords him to become fully engaged in Lily’s life and learn about her world fulltime. Once Max and Lily settle into their shore-view abode in Northwest Washington, Maxwell sets out to find the best accommodations for children on the Autism spectrum.
Durango Walters is the most sought after child psychologist on the West coast and after several referrals, Max seeks out his esteemed expertise. Throughout a journey of self-discovery and learning more about his child now than in seven years, Max puts together the many pieces of his world while finding comfort in the most unconventional fashion where ethics and desire could meld a prospect to fill both of their lonely voids.
When I sat down to write Ashes to Ashes for the first time, I did not imagine it being a multi-year process. I did not for one second even believe that it would take this long at all. What I did know, was my love for the plot I’d thought up. And while not totally original, it’s not over done in today’s realm of books and film. Oh snap, allow me to introduce myself to you all—since most everyone on Diverse Reader probably doesn’t know me from Adam. Or, Steve. However the apple may fall for you. He he.
So this is me, Jason. I have a world full of ideas swimming around in my head. They might not all be book related, but I can assure you that a fair amount of them are. As a man of the autism spectrum, I constantly find myself jumping from one platform to the other. Sometimes this is major author-kill, because my ideas might be trying to fulfill some deeper-rooted craft project instead. I’m in my thirties now and while I haven’t found true love, I have found true lust. Not only for all things naughty, but for life in general. After a rough couple of years working on myself—which is why Ashes to Ashes took so long to complete—I came to the realization that I’d been pushing my need to write so far back into the depths of my cranium, I wasn’t allowing it to surface ever again. So, allow me to introduce you to my comeback novel, Ashes to Ashes, and the wonderful characters I have developed for your own amusement.
Meet Maxwell Williams, he’s in his late thirties. He’s just lost his husband (Dr. Brogan Baxter) and finds himself stuck making decisions he never imagined making. Or at least, decisions he never thought he’d have to make for quite a while, given Brogan was about twelve years older than he was. He’s a fashion photographer and travels all over the world to do shoots on the runways, plus does a lot of work on magazine spreads and things like that. When Brogan dies, he has to arrive at the decision of putting his profession to bed, so that he can become a fulltime parent to Lily Baxter, their spunky-but-sweet seven-year-old autistic daughter.
Meanwhile, he decides that starting a new life in a different place will be healthy for them. So he travels to Seattle where he meets a mutual contact of his and a friend from Denver. When Dirk recommended he seek out Durango Walters as Lily’s potential therapist in Washington, Maxwell didn’t imagine developing such intimate feelings for the man so soon. Let alone at all. But there’s just something about him which Max cannot put his finger on.
After the two of them learn more about each other, they both feel so connected with the other, exploring a relationship is the only logical explanation to their attraction. As for Lily, Durango has a new therapy provider in mind, because of you know, all the ethical things which would have arisen from the chaos of dating a client’s parent.
Will sparks fly for long between Max and Durango? I guess you need to find out for yourself, don’t you?
Be prepared for some water works with this beautifully written book about second chance love. This story emotionally hit me within the first few chapters, it tore me apart but slowly the sadness turned into a precious fulfilling love.
Maxwell William's has the best life. A job that he loves that takes him out if the country and into fun and exotic places. Dr. Brogan Baxter is an amazing husband and father to their beautiful precious 7 year old daughter Lily.
Although, both of their schedules makes it hard on them to have any alone time, and finding a sitter that is able to make their sweet autistic daughter feel comfortable, Max and Brogan finally have a night alone together. But, the life of a doctor and when that phone rings, it cuts their date short. Neither of them knowing, it will be their last night together. That night Brogan doesn't make it home and life changes for both Max and Lily forever.
My heart broke for Max and for little Lily. After his husband's death it seemed like things were starting to have a snowball effect. He failed at a proper Jewish funeral, Brogans parents tried to not only take their house but before long served him papers to try and take Lily. I loved the fact that he was still so close to his twin sister and she dropped everything to be there for him.
Max was determined to find the best help for Lily and he flew to meet with a highly recommended child psychologist. Upon meeting Durango Walter's he felt an immediate connection to him and felt that Lily would be in capable hands. However, she is not the only one that he is able to help. Through lots of trust and understanding of the things Max has dealt with and is dealing with now the two men develop more than just a friendship. Soon Max finds himself rediscovering who he is and who is able to become with the help and love that Durango shows him.
Across the table sat Maxwell Williams—a younger, darker featured gentleman of who Durango used to be a handful of years ago. The kind of man he always wanted to meet in his life, but never did. Because he was stuck in his marriage for ten years, he never got the opportunity to express himself. He was forced by most of his family to be the epitome of everything he didn’t wish to represent. The dominant macho alpha male, who worked a construction or oil drilling job during the week. And the kind of sporty outdoorsman who went fishing, hunting and hiking on the weekend. For nearly thirty years, Durango Walters was living the lie. Even years after his divorce with Bethany, he continued to battle with his sexuality. By that time, he’d reached a certain point in his life where he didn’t think much of love anymore. He thought it was all too little, too late. Only when he shoved away his personal demons, Durango crossed the bridge of doubt and dipped his toes in the dating pool. With not much luck at his attempts to find a true soul mate, he stopped looking.
The fact of being a prospect for the swarthy fashion photographer’s seven-year-old daughter on the autism spectrum did not, however, keep him from catching an innocent glimpse. Ethics aside, this meeting—though a professional one—was possibly the first in a very long time to raise Durango’s heart rate beyond 100 bpm. Partly because most of the time he was sitting in front of children, between walls that looked akin to a storybook, running his neurons faster than the speed of light. Although he enjoyed his work with kids, he also looked forward to a conversation with adults whom he didn’t need to use simpler vocabulary. Nevertheless, Durango still maintained a distant and professional client-provider relationship with his clients. But there was an itch inside him that felt compelled to share a bit more about him with Max than most any other client or parent.
He cleared his throat. “Since we’re getting way more personal in an introduction meeting than I care to admit, I still should tell you that Gage is also on the autism spectrum.”
“That’s a good thing in my book, actually,” Maxwell assured him, reaching around toward the nearby waste-bin to throw away his cup.
“Well I don’t tell many of my client’s parents, hardly ever. Some parents might think that being the parent of an autistic child somehow clouds my perception or doesn’t give me a neutral stance to practice psychology.”
Max’s phone screen lit up as it buzzed on the tabletop.
“Speaking of Lily, this is my sister,” Maxwell advised, sliding out of the tall barstool. “I have been trying to get back with her all evening. I think I should be going.”
“No, no. I understand. It’s late,” Durango replied, offering out his hand to end the conference on a professional note. “My son is probably wondering why he’s at the babysitter’s longer than usual anyway.”
Max smiled. “Boy don’t I relate with that parental guilt.”
“Spectrum Dads, right?” Durango smiled, offering a chuckle. “We should form a club and call it precisely that.”
As the two of them shook hands, Maxwell began pacing to the door. His head turned back toward Durango who was steps behind him on the way out.
“I’ll call you in a few days, once I get back to Denver and talk with my sister about the move. You might be the first person I’ve met on my quest for finding a new provider for Lily here on the West coast. But for some weird reason, I think I already know you’ll be an excellent person for her to place her trust in.”
“Thank you so much, Mr. Williams,” Durango smiled back. “It would be my honor to get to know Lily and help her on the transition from Denver to Seattle.”
“Oh, nonsense,” Maxwell shriveled his face as if he were in the presence of a close friend. “Just call me Max,” he chuckled. “Mr. Williams is my dead father,” he joked.
Durango noticed a sparkle in Max’s eye as he walked past him, stepping down toward the blacktop on the path to his car. It wasn’t the minor attraction which made the whole interaction peculiar. There was something else, something beneath his skin that felt immensely comfortable being around Maxwell. There just had to be some force which brought this new prospective client his way—and he didn’t believe it had anything to do with their mutual contact, Dirk Halstead.
Now, for the incredibly fun part. After culminating my interests into one unique offering, I will be hosting a giveaway for people who enjoyed this blog and email a proof of purchase of the Kindle Version of Ashes to Ashes. I have handcrafted an autographed limited edition “token/piece of swag” to commemorate this heart-breaking yet heart-renewing book. AND one of you lucky people will win it for yourself. It’s a surprise until you receive it, but let’s just say it has a direct correlation to what brings the entire contents of the plot together. To enter, please send a screenshot of your receipt in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Diverse Reader Blog (so I can differentiate from the other swag giveaways).
Most importantly, I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did while writing it. I will say, it’s incredibly emotional. Angsty. But there is so much in between which makes a reader laugh and go “aww” along the way. Special thanks to Meredith King for hosting me on Diverse Reader. I can’t wait to come back again someday in the future. Happy Reading!