Sometimes, to make it back to shore, you need to take the hand that's offered.
Jared Simpson had his feet swept out from under him, and eventually found himself living on the streets. When Gavin Wells and his daughter come into Jared's life, he's fighting to keep going, struggling to keep swimming towards something that will let him stand tall and steady again.
Gavin Wells is fighting his own battles: in-laws, bureaucracy, and the guilt that overwhelms him every time he closes his eyes to sleep. He now has a new challenge to face: his sexuality. He's attracted to someone for the first time in months, and not only is that person a man, but he's homeless, with the potential to derail Gavin's already complicated life.
But fate has brought these two men together. If they can hold tight to each other, they can weather the storm, and find their way home to become a family.
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 2
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Tropes: Coming Home, Friends to Lovers, Gay for You / Straight to Gay, Hurt / Comfort, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Slow Burning Love
Word Count: 95600
Setting: Tweed Shire, Australia
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
“Fuck off, Heath. It’s not that at all, and you know it. Give me a fucking break, will you? This just turned up on my fucking doorstep, let me get my head around it before you start slotting me into some label I’m not sure is me.”
Okay, that was definitely a growl, and definitely from Heath too. I wanted to… rescue Gavin? If I let them know I was awake the conversation would be dropped like a hot potato. I was selfish, though. I wanted to know more, especially because the conversation alluded to involving me somehow.READ MORE
“Gav, you labelled yourself, you dickhead. I just want you to be open to exploring what you’re feeling, and not shut it off because you’re worried about what people will think, or that it’s going to be too weird. Just because you’ve only known one thing your whole life doesn’t mean that’s all there is. Open up your eyes a bit. And your heart. Seeing what I’ve been seeing, you’ve already started with the heart, haven’t you? Be honest.”
There was silence, and my ears strained in case I was missing some whispered response. The loud “Fuck!” startled me, and I wriggled under the blankets to pass my body’s jerk reaction off as merely stretching.
“Okay,” I heard Gavin say softly, “speak plainly. What do you want me to promise? Stop getting me lost in all your fluffy shit speak, and give it to me straight so I can get on with my fucking shit-show of a life.”
I smiled at Gavin’s comment, wondering if he’d realise his own pun. Heath did because I heard him chuckle, and then answer, “Okay, I’ll give it to you straight.”
“I will fucking cut you, Heath.” Gavin did not sound amused.
“Okay, two promises, and then I’m going to check on your guy—I mean Jared.”
“Okay, okay. Like I was saying, be open to the experience. Don’t shut it down completely because it’s freaking you out.”
“Okay, I can do that. I think. God, I so didn’t need this right now,” Gavin said before groaning. I could almost picture him holding his head in his hands.
“Gav, sometimes things come to you right when you need them.”
“You’re doing the fluffy shit speak again, mate. Get a move on. Promise number two is…?”
“This is going to be the tough one. I know you. Well, I thought I did,” Heath added, amusement coming through in his voice.
I heard a sound like skin hitting skin, and then “Ow!” in a voice pitched higher than I would have thought possible for such a big guy.
“Just get on it with, mate.”
“Alright, alright, don’t interrupt, promise?”
“That’s the second promise—don’t interrupt? Don’t interrupt fucking what, Heath. I’m pretty sure I said to give it to me… simply.”
“No—God, you’re so bloody difficult sometimes, I swear. I mean don’t interrupt what I’m about to say. Can you manage that for me?”
I really, really wanted to roll over and see Gavin’s reaction. I could almost picture him sitting there with his arms crossed now, like a churlish child. His answering grunt of “Whatever” to Heath reinforced the image in my head.
“Right. I want you to promise that after you’ve been open to… everything. If something does happen between you and Ja—”
“Don’t interrupt!” Heath gritted out.
“Fine! But noth—”
“If something does happen between you and Jared—if—and something develops, and you find you really like this guy and want to be with him…. Promise me you’ll fight for him, for what you have. Ah! I can see you’re about to interrupt, so don’t, let me finish. It’s not always going to be easy, man. It never is, for any relationship, you know that as well as I do. But when you find that person, who looks at you like that, you keep them, whatever it takes. That’s what I want from you. A promise that if you think that’s what you have, then you do whatever you need to keep it. Not everyone is lucky enough to find that in a lifetime.”COLLAPSE
Bec on Bike Book Reviews wrote:
The birth of his daughter utterly changed Gavin Wells’ life and all for the good. But when his wife commits suicide while trapped in the grip of post partum depression, everything falls apart. Suddenly Gavin is a single parent struggling with immeasurable grief and trying to raise his little girl the best way he can. But he’s drowning in exhaustion and sadness and feels utterly adrift. Until he meets a desperately ill homeless man called Jared.
Dying of pneumonia on the street isn’t the life Jared planned for himself. He came south to get work and raise some money so he and his son could start over after a house fire destroyed everything they owned. Then the work fell through and after one piece of bad luck followed another, Jared was left without hope. Yet the kindness of Gavin, a stranger, leads him to a warm bed and puts him on the road to recovery. By leaning on one another, both men find the strength to start rebuilding their lives. But finding a happily ever after is never easy and Gavin and Jared will be forced to fight for the people who mean the most to them.
Submerged was a beautifully written, though occasionally uneven story of grief and the power of kindness. The plot is fairly predictable and there are no great surprises. Yet the writing is strong and flows easily. The author has a natural voice that really shines and comes through in a big way. Because the story is so straightforward, there are times when the action loses a bit of its pacing and feels slightly draggy, but these periods don’t last very long.
Gavin and Jared are both strong characters whose pain and grief never feels overwrought or exaggerated. You believe the challenges they’ve endured and you absolutely want them to succeed. They’re such sweet guys and your heart really goes out to them. Both characters are well developed and there is an evenness to their separate evolutions that feels natural. That said, there is a measure of insta-love, but it isn’t over the top and it’s done in such a way to be a great deal more believable than most. As a result, it really doesn’t factor in too heavily and the course of Gavin and Jared’s romance ultimately feels realistic.
The secondary cast is less spectacular. They tend to come off as caricatures — the witchy mother in law, the dangerous boyfriend, and so on. The only secondary character that comes off with any depth is Gavin’s best friend, Heath, but only enough to tell us he’s desperate for love. A fuller development of the additional players would have been appreciated and could have added another layer to the story.
Submerged was a poignant and painful look at trying to pick up the pieces after losing everything. Gavin and Jared are believable and sympathetic characters that really carry every aspect of the story. The writing is strong and adds smooth flowing prose to the overall positives of the books. The story is rather predictable and drags occasionally, but overall Submerged is well done and a must for anyone who has struggled through the hardships of grief and come out stronger on the other side.
It isn't very often that a book moves me to tears more than one time while reading it, and it is even less often that I reread it right after I'm done, but both of those things happened when I read this book, it was beyond epic! Jared and Gavin will break your heart and mend it again no doubt.
I don't throw around phrases like " best book of the year so far" much, but this book is the best I have read so far this year!
Gavin is reeling from the tragic loss of his wife and the fact that he is now raising his infant daughter by himself when he notices a man that needs help, a man that stirs him the way a man never has. What does this mean? Will Jared accept his help? Will helping Jared come at too high a cost?
Jared is fighting to stay above water but sometimes it is just to hard, will Gavin help him fight the demons that plague him? Can they be fought?
I wish I could tell you the secrets of this book, but they aren't mine to tell and I will let you enjoy it for yourself! I will tell you that Gavin and Jared's story is riveting, and you will be rooting for this little family as hard as I was! Thanks Susan, for an amazing read, I can't wait for book 2 already!