Title: A Forced Silence
Author: Cate Ashwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
At a Glance: A Forced Silence is a gripping tale of love and struggle you won’t want to miss.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: For paramedic Adam Carson, his world is lights and sirens and saving lives. Pressures at work keep him firmly in the closet, and life is too busy to contend with the complications that come with dating and relationships. When a familiar face from his past turns up where he least expects it, Adam starts to question whether or not there is room in his life for those complications.
The last person forensic pathologist Sam McKenna expects to see at pub night is Adam, the guy who made his life hell in high school. The attraction is instant, but Adam isn’t gay and Sam has no interest in pursuing him. Still, the leftover animosity from their teenage years isn’t enough to extinguish the lust growing between them. After both are called to the scene of a horrific murder, Adam admits he’s not as straight as he led Sam to believe and they seek comfort and distraction in each other’s arms. One night becomes many as the murder investigation intensifies, but when Adam is faced with losing Sam, he is forced to make a choice: to break his silence, or to give up everything for the job he loves.
Review: Take one closeted paramedic running into a high school crush after many years, and you have a recipe for disaster. Adam Carson lives in a world where it is imperative his partner has his back. Never knowing what type of situation he will walk into as a paramedic, his partner could very well be his lifeline in any given situation. Unfortunately for him, his being gay does not go down well with the boys at the fire station. When he spots Sam (Dex) McKenna at the local hangout one night, Adam’s safe and carefully constructed world begins to fall apart. Little did he know that the feelings he once had for Dex were still very much alive. As their relationship builds Adam will be faced with a major decision—lose Dex or lose the security his job provides for him.
There were so many things to like about this story. Perhaps the best was the slow-building attraction between Sam and Adam. Pairing one confident and out man with one buried so deeply in the closet that even his own siblings don’t suspect is tricky. First off, Adam could have come off as a major user—unfeeling, horny and comparatively unconcerned with what Sam should have been getting emotionally from their clandestine romance. Given that the author chose to create this persona for Adam that included this false front of cheeky bravado meant that we would need to see just how important it was for Adam to remain in the closet and why. In essence, we had to see and understand his fears—and they had to be legit, realistic, and he had to be so driven by them that we would be prompted to feel pity and compassion for poor Adam. Well, let me tell you that Cate Ashwood hit that one right out of the park. Not only did we see every hidden thought that prompted Adam to remain closeted, we also understood just how scary his “Dex” was to him—because for the first time, there was someone who he wanted to leave that closet for and be with in an openly committed relationship.
Secondly, this story chose to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. These guys spoke to each other—acknowledged the strain that hiding their relationship would put on them both, and willingly stepped into it despite the dangers. This made the moments that Adam lost control and nearly outed himself accidentally much more realistic and harrowing. You could feel the tension inside Adam and appreciate Sam’s desire to be supportive rather than demand Adam come out. Sam was never a “doormat,” but rather, a co-conspirator, which allowed for him to be in control and share Adam’s secret rather than crumble under it. There was no victim here—rather, there were two men who were falling hard for each other in a situation that was never going to work despite both of them wanting it to.
Lastly, the side elements of forensic work Sam did and the paramedic job that Adam loved played an integral role in the story. There were some significant moments when we got to see firsthand how important the work these two men did. Sam’s job in particular would play an integral role in a jarring ending to this story that the author played out beautifully—taking the reader by surprise, for sure. Nicely juxtaposed with the building romance was a carefully crafted mystery that was seemingly minor and glossed over only to bite the entire cast of characters in the backside at novel’s end. And, of course, it cleared the way for a sequel—which made this reviewer very happy.
Nothing was easy in A Forced Silence, but then I would imagine coming out after so many years of hiding would not ever be an easy thing to do. Cate Ashwood respects that idea and allows it to fuel her story and guide it along an entertaining and realistic path. A Forced Silence is a gripping tale of love and struggle you won’t want to miss.
You can buy A Forced Silence here: