Lost and Found by Gwenna Sebastian

Story: 7.5
Presentation: 9
Total: 16.5
Publisher: Lyrical Press
M/M Contemporary
To Purchase

Blurb: Sometimes even a hero needs someone to save him.

Mark Connor doesn't feel like a hero even though he served two tours in Vietnam and survived a vicious ambush that took the lives of all but a handful of men. But he lost his best friend and lover, and now he refuses to be close to anyone. That makes his instant attraction to Josh a real problem.

Josh Myers hires on with Mark to help him with a remodeling job. A survivor himself of a Beirut bombing, he embraces life with open arms. But he can't get his new flame to take an interest in love, in life, or in himself.

Alone in the northern Outer Banks in January, Mark clings desperately to his past, even as Josh offers him a future he doesn't think he deserves.

Review: Wow, what can I say, I loved this story. Mark is broken. He exists but hasn’t lived in forty years. He carries with him emotional baggage and masks his pain with alcohol. He’s abrasive and inconsiderate but Josh sees beneath the gruff exterior to the man. Josh has endured some of the same war stress as Mark. Only he’s been able to laugh through his pain. He’s charming and sexy and he desperately wants to get through to Mark. Maybe there could be something special between them.

From the opening pages, the sexual tension simmers on the page. However, this story, while erotic in tone, isn’t overly graphic. There are moments where the writing is poignant and emotional. My heart would break and then I’d hope that either Mark or Josh would make a move only to watch Mark pull away. It’s crushing. By the end of the story, I was in tears. I felt every gut-wrenching emotion.

However, there were a few bumps along the way for me which is why the score is slightly lower. In the opening scene together, Josh declares his status and Mark begins to call him cupcake in a derogatory type of way. They don’t know each other enough for it to be friendly bantering. I thought this was over the top for two people who just met. Immediately the “endearments” are used repeatedly in dialog and they became distracting. Dogface, Jarhead, cupcake became like reading speed bumps. I understood that Mark was an alcoholic, however with the copious amounts of beer consumed, I don’t see how he could be functioning. He’s taken on a huge project of remodeling a home, yet, he’s destructive to the home. Also Mark has been celibate for almost 40 years and that seems a bit over the top as well. Even with these minor blips, the story is still solid. The writing is good and I would have loved the story to continue. This is one worth reading and reading again.


Anonymous said...

I read this book and loved it, like you I found it very affecting and touching. It's fun to see some older protagonists who have flaws but manage to finally connect despite the pain they've suffered in the past.

However, I don't really understand why you felt that Mark was destructive to the house - yes, he broke a lamp when he fell down and once threw a bottle, but I don't see that as very destructive.

Having worked as a civilian for the Marine Corps, I found the "endearments" very natural and part of military culture, especially since Marines and soldiers have a rivalry which isn't always friendly. I actually enjoyed the author's use of these terms and felt it added authenticity to the story. But I can understand that someone who isn't familiar with this might find it distracting.

Anonymous said...

I love this story as well. Mark and Josh are two wounded souls who have taken opposite paths in an effort to deal with their pain. The military aspect of the story makes it even more intriguing.

I too was a little confused by your comment about Mark being “destructive” to the house. Other than the necessary demo for the remodel I only remember him breaking a lamp. That could hardly be construed as destructive.

All and all I agree with your review that Lost and Found is a compelling story and an exceptional read.

decynthus said...

I love that Gwenna Sebastian didn't take the easy way out, having Mark quickly succumb to Josh's charms in a fluffy romance story fashion. She braves the emotional complexities of their relationship with realism and compassion. The light banter between them balances the darkness beautifully. I think I was as anxious as Mark was to get a closer look at Josh's tattoo. ;)
In response to a couple of the review's comments, although Mark does drink heavily, it's also true that an alcoholic builds up a tremendous tolerance and can consume a lot of alcohol without even appearing to be intoxicated.
I didn't even blink at Mark's long celibacy until I read this comment. Even without any emotional trauma, I've been celibate most of my life, and I found it completely understandable in Mark.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend "Lost and Found".

What shines through in this work is Ms. Sebastian's genuine respect and love for her characters. They are mature and realistic men who have lived tough lives. Past traumas have shaped them both, but they are still strong men. The slow build captivated my attention and drew me into the story. Their good natured bickering made me laugh. To me, it reflects the realism once more being that, such exchanges are a socially acceptable form of demonstrating affection and camaraderie. The story made me smile, experience sorrow for the characters, cheer, and in the end... well, I can't ruin the ending for you!

I will be waiting in anticipation for Ms. Sebastian's next work.

Anonymous said...

I love this book - her knowledge of the subject matter is very thorough and I know it's very well researched. I prefer my stories to be rich in detail and characterization and this really fits the bill.

CynBrat said...

I have to agree with what other commenters have noted: the name-calling between the Mark and Josh from the get-go are--to me--very natural. A long time observer of males, I've noticed that there's always an alpha-dog play going on, and name-calling is part of that. If you can get the other guy riled, you've won.

I enjoyed watching that play go on between the pair of them and wondered who was going to one-up the other next.

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