Title: Feeling Safe
Author: Vic Winter
Length: 3,700 words (15 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
The best day of Dobbs’ life was when he was rescued from his kidnappers by an elite team of soldiers. A year later, Dobbs’ life should be getting back to normal, shouldn’t it? Despite his best efforts, Dobbs is discovering that back to normal is a relative thing. Then he runs into a man at a party who seems to be eager to help him define his new normal. Can something good come out of his harrowing experience?
Well, the blurb on this super short story pretty much tells it all, which is part of the problem I had with this book. As a rule I love this author’s short stories. They are usually light, the voice and tone works for me, and the characters are likable guys. All this remains true here, but there is so much missing that I felt like I was only getting sporadic glimpses of the entire story.
It starts with Dobbs waking to a nightmare shortly after his rescue by the military and he is comforted by one of the soldiers. You are never told where or why this happened. With so many Westerners kidnapped abroad, I wanted to know the circumstances of what had happened. Was it relevant to the story? Perhaps not entirely, but it would have helped me get a better feel for who Dobbs was.
Skip forward one year and he is adapting to life back home, slowly but surely. He has been unable to go back to his full-time teaching job, still finds crowds bothersome and suffers from PTSD. Despite this, his friends try to “socialize” him. One night, he tries to cope by hiding out upstairs and then later escapes to the backyard silence, where by chance he runs into his rescuer who is on leave with an injury. Before long they are back at Dobbs place and he feels that same sense of safety with the man he felt that night after his rescue. This middle part of the story I enjoyed, seeing the men reconnect and catch up with each other.
It then skips to some point in the future, where you are told Bruce is home on leave and is still making Dobbs feel safe from the nightmares. I was like “What? They’re together? For how long? How did this come to be? Where there issues? Was it easy?” As you can see, more questions than answers. I appreciated there was some kind of shared connection that lasted over time between the two men, and that being with Bruce had not “cured” Dobbs, but it felt like it just hopped ahead and kind of said “oh by the way, they are living happily ever after, the end”.
So while there is nothing inherently wrong with the writing or the characters or the idea, it felt too disjointed, skipped over some of the stuff I wanted to know about both men and their relationship, and was wrapped up just a trifle too tidily at the end with a HEA with little information on how they got there. Others may not mind the extra information being left aside, but this was not one of the author’s more engaging works for me.