Author: SL Danielson
Publisher: SL Danielson
American release date: November 16, 2011
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/M/M Romance/254 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★
David and Robert’s lives have taken a turn for the worse. Each has been dumped by his lover. What they don’t know is that their exes are now together—and their own paths are about to cross. Fate or Karma? You decide.
David returns one night to the home he shares with Andrew, only to discover his lover and almost fiancé gone, along with his small daughter. Stressed out, David finds life in the ER a bit too much to handle, so his understanding boss and friend finds him a spot as a physical therapist in a quiet office.
Robert loves Phillip with all his heart, but he knows that he’s never had Phillip’s heart, so it’s no surprise when he leaves, although it still hurts. So much so that while trying to take out his aggressions on a punching bag, he hurts his hand, and his sister takes him to get help.
David and Robert meet, although each is unaware of who the other is. At first David is taciturn and not very forthcoming, but Robert works on him until he begins to talk, and then they discover, to their amazement, that they have more in common than they’d realized.
Bound in mutual misery, they become friends, commiserating together over the men who broke their hearts. They’re both lonely and unhappy, and it seems logical that they should live together. There’s an attraction between them, but will they be able to act on it? Or will the spectre of love lost hang between them forever?
When David sees a news story about an assault and realizes it involves his ex, he can’t help but be concerned, and he and Robert fly to lend their support. This is the first time the four men have been together in one room and awkwardness ensues, but also some clearing of the air.
David and Robert take their relationship to the next level, and all should be well. Except it’s not, and ghosts are still getting in the way. Will they ever be free? Is their love real? Or is it just a pale imitation of what came before? Are they both just refugees? Forgotten and unloved?
Refugees is the sequel to Ms. Danielson’s, For the Heart of Phillip, which I reviewed previously. It’s basically a love story about picking up the pieces and moving on, not being afraid of getting hurt again, and taking chances. Both David and Robert feel as if they’ve been thrown away, like refuse, so it’s hard to be able to trust anyone with their hearts again. Ironic that Fate has brought them together, united in their joint misery.
You can read this volume without having read the first one, but I don’t recommend it. The first one explains a lot, and you see how the obsessions begin, whether you understand them or not. Especially the one concerning Phillip, but I ranted enough about that in the first review.
Ms. Danielson’s style is unique in its sparseness. She doesn’t waste words, but gets down to brass tacks quickly. Those people who eschew lengthy descriptions—or almost any descriptions at all—will enjoy this brevity on the author’s part.
She delves down to the heart of the matter, to the feelings of her characters, and draws them out, sometimes almost painfully. Her men are not stereotype beauties often found in m/m novels. They have hairy legs, and sometimes they need to lose weight, and they do have bodily functions.
However, in this novel especially, I find that these men do not stick out in my mind individually, and I often cannot remember one from another. They are almost interchangeable, with nothing giving particular definition or any defining characteristics.
Sometimes there are lapses in continuity or in common sense, things that make me scratch my head and say huh? A real wtf moment, for me, occurs late in the book. Okay, the law of probability is somewhat bent that Robert and David get together, considering that their exes are together, but putting that aside, there is a scene in which Robert and David, while at the mall, run into two other of their exes (one of whom is English and was in England), and these two exes are….. wait for it…. Together? Seriously? This defies odds, for me. Just unbelievable.
Also, her men cry at the drop of a hat. People, not just men, don’t cry as much as these guys, who turn on the waterworks whenever they’re thwarted, crossed, or frustrated. Got on my nerves. Also the interfering father who threatened to cold cock Phillip. For God’s sake, these men are way too old for parental inference, either one. Grow a backbone, boy.
Notwithstanding, her fans will enjoy it. It’s an interesting read, although I have to say that the cover is a little creepy. My daughter, while I was reading it, insisted I turn it over. The men on the cover look like zombie Sims. I think Castaways would be a more fitting title; they look like they’ve been languishing on Gilligan’s Island before the picture was taken.
Ms. Danielson certainly has her fans. I would recommend this as a light read, for anyone who finds flowery words too much to bear, and simply wants to get to it. Bare emotions, albeit sometimes illogical and confusing.