“…I think guilt can be like this invisible jailor freely moving from person to person, convicting without trial and condemning with no conscience. But I know one thing guilt doesn’t; I’m free.”–Wade Kelly
Two years is a long time for a die hard fan to wait for a sequel to a much-loved book. Two years is an even longer time if you are the author trying to get the sequel into the hands of those sometimes rabid fans. Some fans might give up. Some authors might chuck the laptop out a window. This was a unique case though. Those fans, not only didn’t they give up, they supported the author, encouraged her regularly on Goodreads and Facebook. The author in question, she kept in touch with the fans and gave frequent updates regarding her triumphs and frustrations while dealing with the M/M publishing world. Thankfully for all involved, The Cost of Loving, the eagerly anticipated sequel to Wade Kelly’s first novel When Love is not Enough has finally made it through the muck and mire and red tape to arrive on your e-reader or bookshelf. It was well worth the wait. You will not be disappointed.
Please Note: When Love is not Enough and The Cost of Loving are best read in order. Because this review contains spoilers for When Love is not Enough, only read after the cut if you’ve read WLinE
The Cost of Loving picks up at the moment When Love is not Enough left off. With Matt and Darian enduring the most potent attraction to one another that either one of them has ever felt. It is just after they have buried Jamie, Matt’s best friend and Darien’s fiancé. Matt (with whom Jamie had long been secretly in love) and Darian had just met at the funeral because before his suicide, Jamie had lead two separate lives, ensuring the two most important men in his life never met. Matt learns through reading Jamie’s journals that they were kept apart because Jamie knew they were perfect for each other. Jamie thought that if Matt met Darian, Jamie would lose each of them to the other.
Before Jamie’s death, Darian had lived with Jamie and his father, Dan. Darian has a history of drug addiction and cutting and has overcome both with professional help and the love of Jamie and Dan. After the funeral, Darian stays with Matt for a couple of weeks. The two seem sexually obsessed with each other. Dan points out and the two men begin to realize that it may not be healthy for them to be together the way they are before they both process their own grief over Jamie’s death.
Dan kind of takes over Darian’s life, and makes him move back into Dan’s house. Dan had been Darian’s guardian, but Darian is now 21 years old and is still letting Dan treat him like a child. Darian misses Matt desperately. Dan won’t allow the two to see each other at all. He monitors Darian’s cell phone and computer. When Matt does sneak a visit, Dan takes all of Darien’s electronics away so he can’t communicate with the outside world. He also strips Darian’s bedroom of all photos of Matt, most of which were placed there by Jamie before his death.
It is not clear if Dan is motivated by love or grief. I believe it is an indefinable combination of the two that changes balance daily. Regardless of his intentions, Dan is hurting Darian more than Jamie ever did. Darian is so guilt ridden he can’t function. He is seeing Jamie all the time. His hallucination of Jamie is saying awful, hateful things to him about Darian’s character and about Matt’s inability to ever really love Darian. Darian begins to cut again and to use drugs. He rarely goes to see his counselor and when he does, he won’t say much. The counselor (evidently with Darian’s permission) tells Dan about their sessions and Dan hammers away at Darian at home about needing to open up to the counselor.
Matt, meanwhile, is living with the consequences of his very public coming out in front of his church at the end of When Love is not Enough. His best friend is dead. His church family won’t speak to him or are openly hostile. He eventually loses his job when his homosexuality comes out at work. His family’s reaction runs the gamut from happy (younger sister) to hatred and violence (younger brother) to disbelief and horrible hate-filled words on the part of his parents. Now, I am not one to quickly forgive. I don’t get easily offended, but if you piss me off, I tend to hold a grudge. The words that Matt’s father spoke to him in anger could never be taken back. If I were Matt, I don’t know that I would have been able to forgive him. Here is where Wade Kelly artfully illustrates one of the high costs of loving another man. Matt’s willingness to endure what his parents and brother say and do are costly and a painful blow to any man’s pride. But his family and Darian are important enough to Matt that he is willing to take those blows and continue to love.
When an ill-fated visit Darian pays to Matt at work leads to Darian’s hospitalization, the depths to which his mental stability has sunk are made obvious. Darian is placed in a rehab facility and Matt is forbidden to visit him. Dan and the therapist both believe that Matt & Darian’s relationship is based on grief avoidance and sex but that they have no real feelings for each other. The many ways that Matt & Darian prove them wrong are painfully high costs of loving another man. They are also spoilers, so you won’t read about them here!
A lot of novels tackle difficult subjects. Some are brave enough to take on one or two. In The Cost of Loving, Wade Kelly is ballsy enough to battle beaucoup painful topics and leave you smiling after all the crying is finished. Any writer who can pack homophobia, self-injuring, drug addiction, depression, dysfunctional parenting, “religion” (the quotes are mine, not hers), guilt and grief (I am probably forgetting some) into one emotionally moving yet satisfying-on-a-gut-level novel has huge cajones and the keyboard to back it up with. Vigorously, firmly recommended.
Reviewed by: Tina