Rocker Jesse Winters just wants to be left alone. If he could melt into oblivion he would and bid farewell to the wild child of rock n’ roll so many have dubbed him in recent months. Truth is, there was never anything reckless, wild or even deliberate about most of the things that had happened on Wild Child’s last tour, but had anyone cared to listen? No! Which was precisely why he was sitting in a cabin high up in the Colorado mountains, hoping the incoming blizzard would bury him forever.
Ryker Jorgensen left the VA hospital with a bunch of prescriptions and pamphlets on how to deal with reentering the civilian world, not that he’s in any hurry to do so. His nightmares still keep him up at night, and every new limitation he discovers gives him more reason to believe that he’s hopelessly useless now. Better to drive up to his cousin’s cabin and lick his wounds. Come spring, maybe, he’d look into being around people, if only for long enough to make the kind of money he’d need to buy his own secluded place.
The last thing he ever expected to see was the man whose face had been plastered in his footlocker and his dreams for the better part of the past six years, but Jesse Winters is nothing like he imagined. When trying to leave Ryker out in the storm doesn’t work, Jesse resorts to ignoring him. But two wounded souls trapped in a snowed in cabin have little choice but to reach out for one another when emotions get frayed. His only hope is that Jesse will trust him enough to let him drag him back from the edge before he’s just another burned out star in the legacy that is rock n’ roll.
Warnings: Flashbacks of domestic abuse, and combat situations, suicide ideations
Heat level: Nonexplicit (though there is frottage at the end)
Tags: self-harm, cutting, stalking, PTSD, domestic abuse survivor, musician, ex-military, insta-love
Jesse is hiding a terrible secret—he’s tried repeatedly to share it with his bandmates but their immediate anger and assumption that his screwing up their gigs is due to alcohol or drug abuse leaves Jesse hurt and ashamed to admit the real reason. So as soon as he can he retreats. Borrowing the cabin of his once best friend and fellow rocker, Kyle, Jesse hides out in the Colorado mountains. He is one step away from ending it all when a big, burly stranger shows up claiming he is Kyle’s cousin, home from deployment and recovering from a life threatening injury. Now the two men, who both struggle with PTSD and allowing themselves to trust, are snowed in and forced to get to know one another. Either they will help each other off the ledge they both are much too close to jumping from or one of them will run and all bets are on Jesse trying to forge his way down the mountain and out of sight from the guy who tempts him in one to many ways.
I fear I may be in the minority with my review of this story, Halfway to Someday. I like this author. Layla Dorine is known for creating great stories with riveting plots and fascinating characters and, in some ways, this novel had both those things. My heart definitely bled for both Ryker and Jesse—each deeply wounded and suffering in their own way from a traumatic incident in their lives that recently left them shell-shocked and unable to cope with being around people. The slow burn romance that developed between them was assuredly realistic and I felt progressed at just the right speed for men such as these two were with so much baggage and healing to do. I felt their chats, however brief, were paced just right—Jesse, in particular, so reluctant to share any of the past with Ryker and unable to forgive himself for allowing what happened to him to continue on for far too long. There was such a deep sense of desperation and naivete in Jesse that I just wanted to wrap him up and keep him safe much like Ryker did.
So yes, this story definitely had some very fine moments but I felt they were too often repeated—too labored over—and it concerned me greatly that neither Jesse nor Ryker sought out counseling after getting off that mountain. More than half this story could have been made that much more plausible if just once the main characters had tried to get help with their trauma. When you couple that glaring problem with the way in which the threat to Jesse was tacked on in the last chapters after having been so well played earlier in the novel you definitely had a situation that could have perhaps been solved with a little less personal angst on Ryker and Jesse’s part and a bit more plot detailing.
The final issue that gave me pause was Jesse’s sexuality. In some ways it was more than hinted at that he was possibly asexual. But then suddenly that seemed to be explained away as him never really experiencing a loving sexual moment until Ryker and he came together. So which was it? Was this character supposed to be asexual or was he just traumatized? The author chose to never really answer that question and I felt that was a bit of disservice not only to Jesse but also to those who present as asexual. It was just so confusing to me.
There were lots of very nice moments in Halfway to Someday. There was deft and careful handling of many self-abuse issues as well as physical and mental abuse—be forewarned there are some fairly graphic passages of both in the beginning of this novel. But overall there were also some missed opportunities needed to make this a really outstanding novel and that is a shame because all the pieces were there for this book to really shine.
The winds whipped against the truck so hard, it rocked, throwing him out of the past. A mercy, despite the violence of the storm. He took that as his cue to get out, grab his duffel bag, and head for the door. Every step took effort. The snow was piled high, and some of the drifts were well past his knees. How easy would it be to lie down and go to sleep in it, never to wake again? He forged a sloppy path to the door, complete with an outline of his body when he face-planted inches from the steps. He didn’t want to think of how painful that misstep could have been had he actually struck the steps, or perhaps it would have made life easier for him to give himself over to the cold. Instead, he gripped the handrail and climbed the steps, coming to stand before the door of the cabin.
Knocking loudly, Ryker shivered, pulling his coat tighter around him as he waited. He was about to knock again when the door swung open to reveal wary green eyes in a too-pale face framed by dark, cascading waves of blond hair. Ryker blinked, stunned at the outright hostility that pulled the man’s lips down into a scowl, his trim beard and mustache only serving to emphasize it more. His wrinkled long-sleeved T-shirt was backward and inside out, and it twisted near the waistline, revealing a swath of pale abs. It looked as though he’d hastily donned it on his way to the door.
“Pretty sure you’re at the wrong cabin,” the guy growled, moving to shut the door in Ryker’s face. Slamming his hand against it kept Ryker from being left out in the cold.
“Even if it’s the wrong cabin, which I don’t think it is, there’s a storm coming, in case you hadn’t noticed, so I think I’ll just come in out of it, thanks.” Ryker took a step forward and trying to wedge through the opening. The other man held firm, however, and they stood there glaring at each other.
“Look,” the man snapped, “you could be a psycho or a serial killer for all I know, so you ain’t getting in here. I’ve got enough problems without accidentally ending up dead.”
Ryker felt the impatience radiating off the other man, which was fine by him; he was getting pretty goddamned impatient and cold himself.
“You look—” Ryker retorted, studying the guy more intently through bleary, snow-clouded eyes. Something about him looked really damned familiar. “I’ve been on the road for hours. It’s fucking cold out here, and it’s snowing buckets. I’m supposed to be at my cousin’s cabin, which the GPS says is right here. So here I am, and I’ve got no intention of driving anywhere until the shit lets up. My cousin’s name is Kyle—”
Jesse couldn’t believe this shit. When he saw Kyle, he was gonna choke him to death with his own bass strings.
“Morrison,” Jesse finished with a sigh.
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places. Currently she has seen forty-nine of the fifty states, with plans to visit her final one, Alaska, in the upcoming year. Every journey is an inspiration and every shred of inspiration gets sprinkled into her tales.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes it’s aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book, a kitty on her lap, and her dog, Jinxx, by her side.
Email (public address): firstname.lastname@example.org