Breathe Deep by Willa Okati
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have read several of Ms. Okati’s books, including the previous books in this series, and I have enjoyed them all because I love her style of writing. Although Breathe Deep is written slightly different than what I have become accustomed to, the writing was no less enjoyable. In the other books of Ms. Okati’s that I’ve read, the main characters are either already involved romantically or tend to know one another well and because of their familiarity with one another, there is a kind of shorthand way in which they interact (i.e., they already know or can accurately anticipate the other characters’ needs and much goes unsaid). Now as Shepherd and Kit have never met prior to this book this kind of shorthand communication would never work and the author doesn’t even attempt to use it. So for me, Breathe Deep offered me the chance to experience another style of writing by an author I enjoy and it proved to be an excellent read.
In case you’re like me and started reading the book without rereading the blurb, the author uses the Prologue to introduce the reader to Kit and show what it is that he is dealing with. It’s clear rather quickly that Kit is of the mindset that if he doesn’t admit that his leukemia is in relapse, then it’s not real. I don’t have to have a fatal disease to recognize Kit’s coping mechanism or empathize with him as I’ve done the same thing myself in situations that don’t even begin to compare. This not only gives me an immediate connection with Kit, but I found myself fully invested in his story within a matter of pages. As if the universe is trying to balance out this devastating development, Kit meets a big bear of a man – Shepherd. Kit’s finally found a man who’s everything he’s ever wanted and it happens at the same time he’s worried (at least subconsciously) that he’s in relapse. Despite his best intentions, Kit can’t stay away from Shepherd nor can he bring himself to tell Shepherd about his leukemia. As the men get close – and boy howdy do they get close! – Kit’s secret gets harder to keep. Of course such a secret can’t be kept for long and when it came out, my heart broke for both Kit and Shepherd. Thankfully the author did not make me wait too terribly long before putting my heart at ease.
I was completely torn over Kit’s decision to keep his leukemia a secret. It’s not like it’s something you just mention in casual conversation to virtual strangers, which is what he and Shepherd were and all Kit expected them to be. As Kit got more attached to Shepherd, figuring out how to tell him about the leukemia got worse because Kit was afraid of losing him. Not to mention, Kit was still in denial himself and when he finally accepted that he was in relapse he no longer knew how to broach the subject. Of course when there was no way to hide it anymore, I was reading through tears because of how Shepherd reacted, especially as it occurred at the end of such a perfect day for the two men. As this is a novella, the author opted not to take readers through Kit’s actual treatment and I for one am grateful because I don’t know that I could have watched Kit suffer through it. But this makes the jump in time to the Epilogue actually frightening because with how it began, I had no idea as to how the treatments turned out and whether or not the relationship was still intact. Thankfully Ms. Okati didn’t make me wait too long for the resolution and I found it both realistic and hopeful. Already I am looking forward to future installments in the St. Hawk’s Medical series in hopes that the author will provide occasional updates regarding Kit and Shepherd. Breathe Deep was an excellent addition to the series and well worth every tear I cried.
I received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.
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