Gun or No Gun...
Imagine being held hostage...a prisoner against your will to a stranger you've never met...never laid eyes on and they keep you locked up in a basement no windows, no light unless they allow it. You don't know why this has happened to you. All you truly know is you're not alone there are 9 other men just like you...trapped in tiny cells, 2 men in ever cell, wearing shackles, your basic needs dependent on the whims of a madman. How desperate would you get? How long would it take you to get to the point where your motto...the mantra that hummed in your brain would become...gun or no gun and what does that mean?
For Cam and Austin what it meant was whether their captor had a gun or he didn't if the chance to try and escape came they would take it. This is the world in which these two men meet. Both of them captured by the same madman who would hold them hostage for 5 months. Five months of near starvation, torture, brutality at the hands of someone they'd never met.
'Aftermath' begins with after these men have escaped...not everyone made it out alive...but those that did have returned to their former lives and are trying to move on to make sense of a world that no longer makes sense to them. There's a bond that forms when people endure extreme situations like this and sometimes once everything is over so is the bond. People don't want to be reminded of the horrors of what they went through other times the bond continues even strengthens because that other person is the only person who truly knows what has been endured. Not just that they can empathize or sympathize they know, they were there, they understand in a way that can't be explained. This is what happened for Cam and Austin and once everything was over what they each had to face was how much deeper that bond was, deeper than either of them had realized.
For me the first part of this story was ok, I liked the way the author gave us the background of what happened to them while they were being held hostage in the form of flashbacks for me that worked really well but at the same time I wasn't quite clicking with the characters. I wanted to know the story but my emotional connection wasn't fully there. I think a large part of this was because of the whole situation surrounding Austin's wife. It all felt really, really wrong for me and just didn't work. I basically wanted a different scenario here, but not my story and while I respect that the author told it the way she wanted it to be...because, hey it's her story unfortunately it took away from things for me (so, please bare in mind that just because this didn't work for me, I'm not saying it was bad...simply that it didn't work for me. I know it worked for a lot of other people so this isn't right or wrong just personal taste).
The second part of this story especially the last 20% worked tickity boo for me. It was awesome and I enjoyed it a lot. Interestingly enough the situation with said wife was resolved and she was basically not a part of this. Also there were so many things that I did like a lot. I liked Cam and Austin when these two men were together there was chemistry and the more together they were the better the chemistry was...damned near explosive at times. I loved that they both had awesome and supportive families there were no douchecanoe parents or siblings to deal with. There were also dogs!!! Dogs are they best they know how to love you and make you feel special just by looking at you with their awesome, trusting puppy eyes and there was Austin's daughter, Riley. Riley was epic...totally and awesomely epic...not perfect but epic.
For me overall the first part of this book probably rolled in at about 2.5 stars while the second part sat pretty solidly around 4 so a compromise of 3.5 stars.
And best of all 5+ stars to some of the best buddy read friends ever the beautiful Christelle, the amazing Sheziss who hung in there for us in spite of the fact that things just weren't working for her and last but not least my awesome cyber child Josy.