At War With a Broken Heart
by Dahlia Donovan
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
What’s the perfect recipe for an emotional MMM romance?
One autistic coffee shop owner, one morose mug maker, and a mostly cheerful police detective.
Fie Morogh Russell goes off to war with a broken heart and returns with a shattered spirit. He hermits away in Bideford, Devon, making mugs, with his service dog, Haggard, for company. Post-traumatic stress turns every memory into a minefield, and life is dismal with one or two rare exceptions.
Davet Heuse drags his younger brother to Bideford for a new start. Both autistic, the two siblings have fought hard to enjoy freedom by the seaside. While Davet runs a coffee shop from his tiny house, his brother pursues his dream at university.
Detective Sidney Little has transitioned from military service to the police force easily. His unrequited crushes and his estranged father are the only points of frustration in his life. He hasn’t quite figured out how to deal with either problem.
When a tragic accident brings Davet’s world crashing down around him, can Fie and Sid help him through the pain of loss?
In this May-December romance with a twist, three men struggle through one obstacle after the other to somehow find themselves in love on the other side.
“You refused to call me anything at all for years. And how is where I live any of your business?” Fie honestly didn’t want to revisit their failed relationship. “What’s changed? Did your latest fling kick you out?”
“I missed you. Us, even.” Edmund gestured towards Haggard, Fie’s blue merle border collie service dog, stretched out across a blanket in his corner of the pottery shed. “I can help. What can your old mutt do that I can’t?”
“Help? You broke me. You lost the right to put me back together.” Fie wiped absently at the sheen of sweat on his brow; he hadn’t even gotten close to his kiln yet. Why am I suddenly overheating? “Sod off with you back to your posh London penthouse.”
“Hell.” Fie dragged a hand roughly through his greying hair. His dark brown eyes examined Edmund and found him relatively unchanged. Still as selfish as ever. He’d missed seeing the fault in his ex-lover’s personality until far too late. “Well, I hope the apology made it all better for you. I still feel like shite.”
“I’m sorry.” Edmund was trying for heartfelt, but it came out sulky to Fie.
“You sent me off to war with a broken heart.” Fie stood up suddenly, knocking his stool over. He dwarfed Edmund with his tall, bulky, almost bearlike frame. “Now I’m shipping you off to London. I imagine it’s far less dangerous than disarming explosives in the desert, and you’re certainly not as emotionally shattered as I was.”
3 of 5 Stars
I’m rating this in the middle as I’m a bit torn. With two ex-soldiers, one with PTSD, and an autistic man making up the triad I was expecting heavy emotions and angst mixed in with hurt/comfort. Added to that the tragedy Davet experienced and I should have been a mess on the floor. We didn’t really get any of that at all which I normally don’t mind but it would have made the story more complete. Each of the men had a side story that ended up being tied together somehow which made for a lot going on – Sid with his father, Davet with his brother and parents and Fie with his PTSD and his family.
I liked the three men together. Sid is entertaining, especially in his banter with Fie.
The author’s writing took some getting used to; the transitions between scenes were a little hard to follow and at first, this seemed like the middle of a series and I missed some of the story. The history between Fie and Sid eventually comes out, but it takes a while which made me think I missed something. Same thing with both of their history with Davet. And out of the blue a side character mentions the three of them would be great together. How did that character come to that conclusion? At that point in the story, we hadn’t seen the three of them together. There was no explanation for it either, it was an abandoned dropped bomb by that character.
Fie’s PTSD was talked about excessively, but we didn’t really witness any of it outside of one scene where people got to be too much. The synopsis states the PTSD ‘turns every memory into a minefield’ and he became a hermit when he returned from war. His friends kept an eye on him and eventually got him a service dog, but the PTSD is still supposedly debilitating, and we just don’t witness that happen throughout the story. It almost seemed like a non-issue at this point in his life.
Davet’s autism was hard to spot at the beginning but as the story progressed more of that was exposed. I know now that he always wore a mask to ‘fit in’ with the ‘normal’ non-autistic folks and that mask was shed around Fie and Sid but the way it was written was confusing. It seemed like the idiosyncrasies were forgotten and only added as an afterthought.
Sid’s history with Fie was confusing until late in the story and when it was fully revealed I was a bit surprised.
I didn’t really connect emotionally with any of the characters – part of that may be due to the lack of emotion on Davet’s part because of his autism and Fie’s part because he shut himself down emotionally. I don’t know that I would even classify this as a romance although they do date and have sex with each other. There isn’t passion between them so much as navigation of a triad relationship and it was a bit bumbling.
There was a mix of great and awful side characters.
If you are a fan of this author’s work and used to her writing style, you may love this story. It just fell in the middle for me.
Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.
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