Title: What No One Else Can Hear
Author: Brynn Stein
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages
At a Glance: Though there’s no romantic plotline in this book, it is an excellent story and well worth your time to read.
Reviewed By: Taz
Blurb: Young Stevie Liston is diagnosed with autism, but is really an overwhelmed empath who mentally called out for help. Jesse McKinnon heard him in a dream from clear across the country, and that dream sent him on a six-year search to find Stevie. Once they meet, they think everything will work out and Jesse will help Stevie cope.
Stevie does improve immensely, but a disgruntled coworker of Jesse’s conspires with Stevie’s estranged but politically powerful father to keep Stevie and Jesse apart with trumped-up legal charges claiming Jesse sexually abused the boy. Jesse must watch helplessly as Stevie loses all the advances he’s made.
If it wasn’t for his growing relationship with his coworker Drew Ferguson, Jesse knows he wouldn’t have the strength to fight for his rights and Stevie’s future. Drew just might be the real thing, but with the very real possibility of serving jail time for a crime he didn’t commit, Jesse’s hopes for a future with Drew might be doomed.
Review: What No One Else Can Hear is a heartwarming and sometimes disturbing story about a man and a boy who share a deep connection. Stevie is an autistic boy who lives in a trancelike state, not talking or interacting except through his drawings. Through an empathic connection, he draws Jerry to him at an institution for other children with autism. When Jerry arrives, Stevie awakens and begins to speak and interact with others. But, he can’t filter out the emotional noise of others around him. This is fine if the emotions are warm and fuzzy, but living in a place filled with children who often have emotional meltdowns, Stevie has a long way to go to learn how to manage the input he receives from everyone around him.
Before I provide the review, I want to mention that this book was not what I’d expected from a Dreamspinner Press title. There was little to no erotic romance in this story. While there was a love interest, there were only a few erotic scenes, and none of them were full out descriptions of sweaty man-sex. Since this is what I was expecting, I found myself getting frustrated as I tried to figure out who the love interest was and why it was taking so long to get to the love story. Had there been a warning, or if the title had been published under DSPP, this pitfall would have been avoided and I would have enjoyed the book for what it was: an excellent story about a boy and a man who shared a connection no one else could understand.
While there were several disturbing events in the book, the action and pace remained tight. Stevie had severe breakdowns when he was receiving too much input from those around him. This would cause him to tear at his clothes, scratch himself, beat his head against solid objects, and basically shut down. Jerry was the only person who was able to get through to Stevie, and slowly helped him to learn how to handle emotionally wrought situations.
Add to the mix several side stories, and the plot kept on spinning with problem after problem. Between the disgruntled colleague at the institute, who hated Jerry from the first day, to Stevie’s political figurehead of a father, who was basically just a sperm donor, trouble just kept piling up, pitting obstacle after obstacle in Jerry’s path as he tried to help Stevie come out of the world he’d secluded himself in. The interactions with these two antagonists resulted in some truly ugly things happening which made me cringe as I read, but that’s good writing if the author can get me to squirm.
As I said, the love interest was a secondary plotline. There were some sex scenes, but none were described in detail. Once I realized this was not an erotic romance, but more of a paranormal story with a romantic side-story, I was able to get on board with the experience of reading the book. What I liked about Drew, Jerry’s love interest, was how he complimented Jerry perfectly, serving as the alpha for Stevie while Jerry provided the nurturing support Stevie needed.
But by far, the star of the book is Stevie. The author absolutely rocked getting inside this kid’s head, clearly did her research about autism, and painted a picture of a boy everyone fell in love with, including me, the reader.
So, if you are interested in reading a story that definitely provides a HEA, but that does not contain a strong erotic plot line, this is a book well worth your time.
You can buy What No One Else Can Hear here: