Life After Joe


It’s not the breaking up that kills you, it’s the aftermath.

Ever since his longtime lover decided he’d seen the “heterosexual light,” Matt’s life has been in a nosedive. Six months of too many missed shifts at the hospital, too much booze, too many men. Matt knows he’s on the verge of losing everything, but he’s finding it hard to care.

Then Matt meets Aaron. He’s gorgeous, intelligent and apparently not interested in being picked up. Still, even after seeing Matt at his worst, he doesn’t turn away. Aaron’s kindness and respect have Matt almost believing he’s worth it—and that there could be life after Joe. But his newfound happiness is threatened when Matt begins to suspect Aaron is hiding something, or someone…

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2 thoughts on “Life After Joe

  1. mantasticfiction August 3, 2010 / 10:16 pm

    This is one of the grittiest stories I’ve read this year. The synopsis paints a grim picture of what Matt’s life has become after the split of his long time relationship. This isn’t the average breakup, however. Matt and Joe had been together their entire lives, first as best friends, high school sweethearts and then as lovers. Every stage of their lives, every milestone, every goal, planned in sync (and openly) with each other. Now, at nearly 30, Joe has decided that he wants a traditional, heterosexual life. He even has someone picked out; a nurse who works at the same hospital as both Joe and Matt. A woman he’s been seeing secretly for two years and who knows full well about Joe and Matt’s relationship. Understandably, Matt’s world is shaken when he finds out.

    The story begins six months after the break-up. And as the write-up says he has sunk nearly as low as he could go. There are a couple of very irresponsible and dangerous encounters in which Matt tries to feel something other than the pain, shame and loss.

    It is from one of these nights that Matt sees Aaron for the first time. Something about Aaron draws him out of his self destructive haze enough to be embarrassed about his behavior. They eventually strike up a tentative friendship before Matt is dealt another hard blow, this time delivered directly by the new wife. Luckily, Aaron offers a solution that keeps Matt from spiraling further.

    Personally, I was a little iffy on the time line. Matt’s despair is beautifully written in stark realism. Kind of turns the stomach if you allow yourself to feel even a little of what Matt is feeling and doing during this time period. Having Aaron in his life as the last of his previous life falls apart is a blessing that I’m not sure I believed in as I was reading it. Because Matt loved so completely and was betrayed so thoroughly, I was doubtful that he would allow himself to place his life in someone else’s hands so soon. Especially since the glimpses he has into Aaron’s personal life has him wondering if he is repeating his past heartbreak. The ease in which he acknowledges the possibility, accepts the “evidence” and decides he just isn’t worthy of anything better is shocking.

    Of course, we come to find out all of Aaron’s secrets eventually. Since Aaron really is a good guy, I found him to be a likable character. Matt isn’t all sun and roses and Aaron’s patience and understanding is very endearing. His tight lipped tendencies do cause a bit of trouble though.

    Just about the time things are finally coming together for Matt and Aaron, Joe is back for one last surprise. The last straw that finally brings clarity to Matt’s life. It is a fairly obvious plot point but one that is surprisingly appropriate in this tale. And leads to the everything being out in the open.

    The events that Matt goes through in able to reach Aaron in the final chapters is pure romantic optimism. The story has a great ending, but it almost seems like Matt’s dramatic entrance is just too much for Aaron to endure. There is a real possibility of everything falling to bits. Finally, we find out who Aaron is and what he’s been keeping so close to his chest.

    My main reason for liking the end is how much healthier the two men were. A bit more realistically gun-shy, but much more committed than convenient. I think it helps that several months had gone by. A few monumental healing steps had taken place for each of them individually and as a couple. With such a deep and dark beginning, I think it was very important for the story to end with joy.

  2. Claire (Sparklybearsy) August 8, 2010 / 9:25 am

    What a great review! it makes me dive more quickly into this one, it had to take a back seat while i caught up on other reviews. it sounds as you said on twitter “gritty” i do like when a romance story has some substance to it. =)

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