“The man who fears losing has already lost.” ― George R.R. Martin
It was Charlie Cochet’s free story Roses in the Devil’s Garden that had me looking twice at The Auspicious Troubles of Chance when it was released by Dreamspinner Press last year. It was The Auspicious Troubles of Chance that led me to believe I’d just stumbled upon a new author who’d quickly made it onto my “must-read” list. It was The Amethyst Cat Caper and When Love Walked In and Lost In My Waking Dream and In His Corner and… well, you get the picture. I’ve read quite a bit of her work, but it’s the much anticipated second book in The Auspicious Troubles of Love series, The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe, that has quickly taken its rightful place as my favorite. My sincere regrets to Harlan McKay and Nathan Reilly, but Jonathan, Henry, Jacky, Chance and all the boys at Hawthorne Manor own me outright, and I love them.
Jonathan Wolfe and Henry Young were introduced in Jacky and Chance’s story, but they take front and center billing in “Impetuous Afflictions”, older now and settled into the Manor, where they’ve helped to build a life and family for the boys whose pasts have left them with nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to, and have left scars that the men work so hard to help heal. Problem with Johnnie, however, is that he has wounds of his own that have never closed, let alone healed, and the more he tries to ignore them, the more they weep and fester and cause him to do things that only hurt him more. And when a man loves you like Henry loves Johnnie, that hurt isn’t halved, it’s doubled because Henry takes on every ounce of Johnnie’s pain as his own.
It’s a self-fulfilling-prophecy Jonathan’s created, believing that he isn’t worthy of Henry’s love, causing him to do things unworthy of not only himself but of the man he loves, which makes him feel even less in his own eyes and causes him to act out in ways he ultimately regrets. It’s a vicious cycle that can’t be broken until Jonathan can admit that what’s broken in him doesn’t mean he is beyond repair. It simply means he must gather the pieces that are left and make himself into someone new, perhaps not entirely whole again on his own but complete with Henry at his side.
I loved this book in a squishy-hearted, grinny-faced kind of way. Because, you know, sometimes when you read something that touches you in an otherwise inexplicable way, ya just gotta wing it and make up words when it comes to saying how you feel about it. Reading The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe was like stepping into a time machine to visit old friends again, not to interfere in their lives but to watch as they work through their conflicts and trials and celebrate their triumphs, to witness their hearts break again and again, then to find hope in their mending.
Charlie Cochet places you in that time machine and deftly sets you wandering through this story that not only plucks at your heartstrings but does a good bit of tugging at them too. These men, and the boys they’ve transformed into a family, belong nowhere else but to the era in which she’s written them. They work in spite of their misfortunes and because of the love they have for Jacky and Chance. They work because they are charming and charismatic and sympathetic and flawed, and their journey isn’t always easy but is one I was glad to go on.
Here’s to The Auspicious Troubles of Love: Book Three. I can’t wait for the next couple up.