Looking In

Looking In - Michael Bailey Originally reviewed at Sinfully.

This is a good debut by Michael Bailey. There is a lot of potential in the writing with some very emotional moments and David and Adam are incredibly sweet together. It would have definitely received a higher rating from me if it hadn’t been for my issues with some storylines and characters.

David is 28 and has major trust issues resulting from a childhood trauma and feels he has nothing to offer anyone. He has been in therapy, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. He’s living a very solitary life, with no friends, alone in a small apartment above the comic book store where he works.

Adam is out of the Marines after 15 years, half of which was active duty in places like Afghanistan. He’s living with his brother and teenage nephew. When his nephew is diagnosed with a serious illness, Adam goes to the comic book store to buy him something. This is where he meets David. The two men meet in one of those I feel the electricity when I touch you moments and when they accidentally run into each other again, Adam is determined to spend more time with David.

One of the best parts of the story was how their relationship starts. The texting back and forth, David’s disbelief that someone like Adam wants to spend time with him and the awkward dating moments. These two are freaking adorable. The story is told in alternating points of view which is great for the most part, but there are times where we get both men’s viewpoint on a portion of a scene and it occasionally felt repetitive. While I liked both characters, they did read a bit young to me and it often felt like I was reading a New Adult novel rather than a romance between a 28 and 30-something year old. There is no real issue in the relationship other than David’s own worries (which leads to one of my personal peeves rearing its ugly head - the “I’m leaving without telling you for your own good” - but happily it’s not too drawn out) and his internal struggle with those too, seemed to get repetitive.

That leads me into the parts of the story that didn’t quite work for me. I would have liked to see some more character development for Adam. All I know is that he is a super nice, patient and loving man, but I didn’t have a real feel for him as a thirty year old man who had done four tours of duty in Afghanistan. There is also a lot going on in the story. Everyone has family drama of some sort and some of the secondary stories didn’t completely work for me. The illness of Adam’s nephew was set up to be a big part of the story but it seemed to be mostly resolved early on without much difficulty as was David’s struggle and shame over his sexuality. We’re introduced to one coworker who seemed like they would have a part to play in David’s life but then are never heard of again and then another one is introduced that does step up. There were also too many too stupid to live moments on David’s part leading up to and at the climax of the story.

I’m not sure if the copy I read was a final copy, though it seems it had gone through editing, but still there were enough issues that took me out of the story. There were some inconsistent details including a timeline that seemed a bit off, repeating sentence fragments and a number of grammatical and spelling issues.

So yes, I had some problems with the story but, one big reason to keep an eye on this author is that there is some very lovely writing in this book and overall, the story did keep me reading. I enjoyed the hurt-comfort aspect as David really did need to catch a break and finally find someone who he could trust and would love him so he could start to really heal. For a first novel it’s a very good effort and if you’re a hurt-comfort fan who likes it mostly fluffy and sweet I’m sure you’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of this story.