A World Apart

A World Apart - Mel Gough Originally reviewed at Sinfully.

Ben is a cop in a small town in Georgia. He has quickly climbed as high as he can in the Department, and this focus on work is probably a contributing factor to his marriage dissolving. He works with his best friend, Jason who has brought in a suspect in a hit and run and is not really giving the man a fair shake. Ben intervenes as the “good cop” and finds there is something about Donnie Saunders that intrigues him. Another chance meeting in an unexpected place has Ben deciding to learn more about the man. Ben is bisexual, something that he has kept to himself, and finds himself drawn to Donnie from the first time they meet, which isn’t under the best of circumstances.

Donnie Saunders can’t seem to catch a break. His life is and has been hellish, but he is trying to break free, doing things to better himself and his situation. The fact that Ben was so nice to him when he was arrested is something that astounds him. Meeting Ben again has Donnie hoping for things that he believes are impossible, until it all seems to be right there for the taking. His fear is that when Ben learns his secrets he will be gone as fast as he can.

Donnie and Ben are both very sweet, very likeable characters. Donnie, especially, can’t seem to catch a break, but remains a caring, hopeful man. Nothing has been easy for him and his circumstances are heartbreaking. From the start Ben just wants to get to know and protect Donnie. Ben quickly falls for him even as his marriage is just being dissolved. They’ve barely known each other when Ben finds himself unable to think of not being with the man.

The story is told from Ben’s POV, but oddly I felt that I got to know Donnie better than Ben. There are sections of the story where we are given Donnie’s feelings and experiences in a sort of third-person omniscient POV, which gave a detached feeling to those portions, yet still managed to convey Donnie’s situation and struggles. This is definitely an insta-love story which would be fine, but other than dealing with one crisis after another, there wasn’t a lot of time for these two to just talk and get to know each other. Ben also comes off as almost too perfect in his relationship with Donnie. They move quickly and nothing seems to throw him as far as Donnie is concerned, and without spoiling things, there are a few very serious issues that Donnie is dealing with that will affect both of them, and Ben is able to just roll with it which didn’t come off as very realistic. On the other hand with regard to his marriage everything throws him; his wife (who is not one of those horrible exes so points there) eventually telling him it’s time for him to move out now that he is moving on with Donnie throws him into a tailspin so I found it hard to reconcile these two behaviors.

While the main part of the story, Ben and Donnie dealing with Donnie’s life, mostly worked for me, there was a lot going on that was never fully flushed out or that seemed to be set up for an arc and just faded away. Ben’s best friend and work partner Jason, who meet in the first chapter and makes a pretty big impression, pretty much disappears for most of the book then pops back at the end. Over the course of the weeks Ben is dealing with everything changing and he is missing work, Jason is nowhere to be found. Also, the breakup of Ben’s marriage and how to work things out with his young daughter seemed to be very secondary to everything else and managed to wrap up quickly and easily. Finally, there are UK terms and usage that pop up quite a few times in these two Southern boys’ conversations that threw me a bit, but as I did read an ARC it’s possible that it may have been caught in final editing.

A World Apart is Mel Gough’s debut novel and all the bones of a good hurt-comfort story are here, including two likeable main characters. The story kept me reading, but there was too much going on without enough time to fully flesh out all the storylines and I think the development of the relationship suffered some for all the external issues. While it didn’t fully work for me, I think there is plenty here for a lot of readers to like especially if you love hurt-comfort where everything works out in the end.