Surf Bay 3: Saving Michael : A Gay Romance by Ashley John

Title :  Saving  Michael: A Gay Romance

Word Count : 281pgs      Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance 

Blurb : The Deputy Sheriff of Surf Bay has hit rock bottom. After pushing his boyfriend away with his drunken, violent behavior, Michael doesn’t have any reason to live anymore. Sleeping in his car and on his father’s couch, Michael is spiraling further and further into a dark pit as he drinks himself to death.

The local vet, Caleb, is young, attractive and full of life. His passion is saving the animals that pass through his surgery, but when the very place he loves is engulfed in flames, it’s up to the local, drunk police officer to save him from the fire. After being saved, Caleb invites Michael to his mother’s annual Christmas party to make his ex, Ace, jealous, but as Michael and Caleb get closer, Caleb knows there’s more to the dark void of sadness that fills Michael, than first meets the eye.

He makes it his mission to save Michael, but is Michael beyond saving? Michael witnessed something horrific as a child that changed the course of his life forever, but will he be able to bring justice to the memories of his past so he can have a future?

My Review :  Deputy Sheriff Michael  is a self destructive mess in the little town of Surf Bay. He is a very complex character who we would all love to hate. But there is just something about him,  glimpses of a scared tortured little boy peaks through. It makes us want to find out the reasoning behind the destruction that he has become.

Michael has been carrying an open wound in his soul since he was a little boy and  watched from his hiding place while his father strangled his mother.  For years this secret has tainted a part of him and it has turned him into  almost a mirror image of his father. Michael is hurting deep down inside and he self-medicates with alcohol. It is definitely not helping though because his intake of alcohol fuels his demons and has turned him into this unrecognizable violent person. He has a lot of self hatred and he has no idea how to pull himself out of the pit of hell that his life has become.  Michael has been living in his car since his ex Porter dumped him after Michael tried to shoot him. There is no doubt about it that Michael deserves the leper status which he gets from most of the townspeople.  He is a hot mess!

When Michael saves the town vet Caleb Frost, he gains himself a lifelong friend much to his consternation. He would rather just be left alone to drink himself into oblivion. Caleb is Michael’s exact opposite. He has a warm, loving,  friendly exuberance that is almost palpable.  He comes from a quirky loving family and luckily for Michael he sees the positive side in almost everyone. Caleb seeks out Michael at every turn.  It is slow going, but Michael finds a tiny bit of himself opening up and reaching towards Caleb’s warmth. Caleb propositions Michael to go with him  to his mother’s  Christmas party in order to make his superficial ex Ace jealous. Michael unwillingly accepts  just to get Caleb off his back. Caleb decides to make it his mission to save Michael,  even if it is from himself.

When Caleb finds out that Michael has been living in his car, he convinces him to stay with him for a few days. After a wonderful home cooked meal,  Caleb pushes Michael to talk about his mother. All the bottled up pain and loneliness comes out. It is purged from his body, but rather  than cleansing his soul, talking causes all the memories to become omnipresent in his mind. Caleb realized that he has opened a wound within Michael. He suggests a walk to distract Michael and while they are out they run into Porter. Their chance meeting becomes explosive when Michael tried to apologize to his ex. It is obvious  to Caleb that when Michael feels vulnerable or cornered, he turns into a vicious animal inside his head.

For the first time, Caleb sees that Michael has a serious drinking problem and he makes it his vow to save him. They start an intensive detox program where Caleb locks himself in his room with Michael. It’s a long hard road, but at the end of a two week period Michael is clean and sober  and much better to face the demons of his past. He tries apologizing to Porter again and they actually talk this time. All is not forgotten,  but he has been forgiven. His biggest hurdle  is confronting his father for the murderer that he is. Caleb helps him to understand that he is blameless for his mother’s death. Michael does a lot of soul searching and decides that the time has come for his father to pay for his crimes. He records his father’s confession which gets him put away behind bars. This was definitely my favorite of the series. Michael has a depth to his character that none of the others did. Ashley John turned a completely unforgivable character into a hero. This goes to show that there is a hero lurking inside of most of us. Given the right circumstances,  the best part of ourselves can conquer the bad parts. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

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