Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
There are often moments in fiction, any type of fiction, where a person’s truth is evident and keen. In L.A. Witt’s Aftermath, another story from the Vino & Veritas brand under the Sarina Bowen World of True North, the truth lies in a person’s resiliency and ability to find a new identity. This book tells the story of Brent and John. Brent is a twentyish young man who has been dealt a serious blow in his life. A former professional hockey player whose career ended dramatically, he is struggling to “live” life again. Trapped in a world of pain, Brent doesn’t know who he is anymore without hockey. One night, Brent is coaxed out of his house by a friend who takes him to Vino & Veritas. There, a musician, Jon, performs, and Brent is drawn to him. At the end of Jon’s set, Brent befriends Jon, and they have instant chemistry. The problem is Brent is insecure about the brokenness of his body.
Like Brent, Jon too is striving for a new identity. With the end of his marriage, he is trying to find a new normal for himself and his son. He also understands pain, but in a more figurative sense. These two connect immediately and the transitory nature of their initial meeting becomes something deeper as the story progresses.
There is a truth in this story, the idea that dreams can be derailed and the need to find a new identity. Witt is insistent in telling the story of that reality. Through Brent and John, but more specifically Brent, we see the devastation of their dreams, but we also see the possibility of constructing new ones. As Witt shows us beautifully through their story, with the right person who can be patient and love us through our trials, we can find a new identity, a new place to inhabit. I will admit that there is quite a bit of exposition in this story about Brent’s accident and subsequent issues. It feels a little bit like being hit over the head over and over again by a book. You learn very quickly that he lives with pain, and this feels a little too drawn out. But what I think I loved the most is the genuine friendship and care between Jon and Brent. Honestly, Jon is a patient one, very thoughtful and compassionate towards Brent. It’s his simple want for touch and patience for anything more that makes him so incredibly likable.
For the Vino & Veritas world, L.A. Witt’s Aftermath is a perfect addition. I appreciated the subtlety of their burgeoning relationship, the care between these two men. Even more, Aftermath is a perfect reminder that we can dream different dreams when our original ones don’t work, and in the end, our new dreams can be better than the original dreams.
In love and romance,