Title: Wet Paint
Author: Will Parkinson
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Transitions: Book Two
Although Addy’s heart and body bear the scars from his life before he was adopted by the Deans, he’s ached for something he thought he would never find. Until he met Benny. He isn’t sure how anyone can care for someone as broken as he is, even though he wants it desperately.
High school senior Benny Peters has his whole life planned out for him, until a chaste kiss at summer camp opens a new world of possibilities. Determined to erase Addy’s insecurities, Benny works to take away his boyfriend’s pain and replace it with love.
When Addy’s past intrudes on their future, it’s going to take everything Benny can muster to show that no matter what–or who–they face, they belong together.
Review: Picking up where the previous title in the Transitions series, Pitch, left off, author Will Parkinson carries on the story of his high school dream team in Wet Paint. Fans of the first novel will be thrilled to see that former main characters Taylor and Jackson are very much present in this second novel, but the story really belongs to Addy and Benny.
Addy has been horribly abused by a drunken, evil father but thankfully was rescued at a young age from his desperate situation. Now living with the Dean Family, Addy has really begun to grapple with his past life and the scars it has left behind, both physically and mentally. He has also kissed a boy for the very first time. Benny has been caring for others his whole life. His friends are his family and when he counsels Addy at a summer camp for youth who have been abused and neglected, he is shocked to find that he may have feelings for the fellow teen. Shocked, because up until this point Benny thought he was straight and never planned to be otherwise.
One kiss changes the trajectory of both these boys’ lives and means that major changes are in their future. For Addy, he must now deal head-on with the fact that he feels his sexual abuse has left him “broken” and therefore unworthy of Benny’s returning affections. Despite wanting Benny in so many ways, Addy grapples with the fact that, in his mind, he will never be good enough for any man to love.
Benny, on the other hand, is struggling to make sense of his growing affection for a male. While he admits to having a passing crush on his friend Taylor, Benny has never considered himself even bisexual. Plus, between his parent’s strong desire to see him excel academically, and his own love for learning, Benny has been solely focused on a well planned out future that never included falling in love with a boy. And so, it is shocking for Benny to realize he wants nothing more than to protect and care for his “little man”, Addy.
But all too often the past comes back to haunt us and, in this case, to harm us. Real danger lurks just around the corner for these two young men, and bullies exist in many forms. Will their newly found love be enough to protect them from those who wish to do Addy harm?
Wet Paint is a sweet addition to the young adult genre. The growing relationship between Benny and Addy is sure to tug at your heartstrings and with the introduction of a new character, Liam, I have no doubt the potential for a third novel in this series may be a reality. There were many strengths to be found in this novel. The way in which the idea of art therapy was used to help Addy was something that added dimension to his character. More and more therapeutic techniques, such as this one, are used in YA novels to help the abused character find an emotional release from their past. Another YA novel, Omorphi, also used this plot point with much success. For Addy, it also gave him a place to escape to and a way to share his love for others.
Also, the idea of love being more than just the physical was so lovely to see. Instead, Will Parkinson focused on the growing affections and the idea of waiting for the person you love to be fully confident and ready to engage in intimacy. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of smoldering passion in this novel, but sex was a byproduct of love, not the reason for it. Benny realizes, with wisdom beyond his years, that Addy must be ready to give himself physically. The scars from past abuse run very deep, and to rush into anything beyond kissing and holding might trigger deeply held, painful memories that could shatter Addy. The tenderness with which Benny approaches this milestone moment for the boys is really quite beautiful.
But it is also the moment of actual physical intercourse that gave me great pause in this story. While I never felt it was rushed, I did feel that it might have happened way too soon after a particularly traumatic moment in the story. I frankly grappled with the placement of their intimacy in the storyline. I felt it was just too soon after a major plot twist that left Addy reeling and might have been better held till later in the story. Also, I was a bit shocked by the ending of the novel, overall. I was uncertain the dramatic moment that was revealed was in any way realistic, given both the close parental oversight of Addy and the pragmatic way in which Benny had operated during the rest of the novel. The final plot twist came out of nowhere and was a bit over the top for a story that had been so carefully and skillfully handled up to that point.
Despite these niggles, Wet Paint was a worthy addition to Will Parkinson’s growing Transitions series and fans will love seeing Benny and Addy get their chance in the spotlight.
You can buy Wet Paint here: