What He Left Behind

What He Left Behind - L.A. Witt This didn't work for me. I already felt uncomfortable at 12%, but I made it to 30% before I had to put it down.

Josh and Ian are married. Michael is Josh's best friend. They grew up together, came out to each other and were each other's first sexual experiences. While they never were together as a couple when they were younger, they sometimes casually hooked up in between relationships. Then Josh met Ian and they got married. Michael met Steve, who turned out to be a manipulative. violent and abusive boyfriend. Michael lived in this hell for five years until one trip to the ER too many, Josh and Ian got Michael out of the relationship. What exactly happened to Steve wasn't really explained (I only got to 30% so maybe it'll be explained later), I don't think he got reported to the police by any of them. Michael getting out of this abusive relationship happened five years ago, and all this time Michael has had therapy because his emotional scars run deep. The story starts with Michael telling Josh that emotionally he's got his head pretty much straight now, but he can't deal with any kind of touches or physical relationship, least of all sex. Josh wants to help. Ian wants to help. Ian suggest Josh helps Michael out by being intimate with him again, since they've been lovers before Michael knows and trust Josh. 

There are a few scenes early in the book with Josh and Michael being intimate (not all the way). I didn't like how quickly they got together. And the arrangement started off so casually. There weren't any solid rules or anything, which led to awkward situations, descriptions of twinges of guilt, conscience, between-the-lines-jealousy coupled with attractions. Ian also expresses reservations with the arrangement after he suggested Josh help Michael. This also happens after Josh and Michael have been intimate a couple of times. I cringed several times and I didn't enjoy reading.

I stopped at 30% with this:

"What do we need to talk about?" [Ian]
"Well, for starters, maybe now would be a good time to address the condom issue." [Josh]
They both tense a bit.
"Condom issue?" Ian asks.
"Yeah." I glance at Michael, then turn to my husband, lacing our fingers together. "Do you have any preference? As far as whether or not we use them?"
"Oh". Ian absently rubs my thumb with his. "Um. Not really, no. I know Josh is clean."
"And I haven't touched anyone in years," Michael says.
"Then if you guys don't' want to use them, I..." Ian pauses, reaching for his glass with his other hand. "I guess I don't have any issue with that."
"We don't have to. It's completely up to you."
Ian's eyes loose focus, and he slowly sips his wine. For a few second, he rolls it around in his mouth. Michael and I exchange uncertain glances. But then Ian shrugs and puts the glass aside again. "I trust you both. If you're comfortable going bareback, then I'm comfortable with it too."
"If that changes," I say quietly, "all you have to do is tell us."
Ian nods, a faint smile forming on his lips, and he squeezes my knee. "I will. But I don't thing it'll be a problem."
Even still, silence falls again, and it stretches well into awkward. I'm not sure we have enough wine for this conversation.

Ian is clearly reserved and uncomfortable, even though he was the one who suggested it. They all are. And it goes to show they haven't talked things through. This is also after Josh and Michael have been together twice, one kissing scene and one rub off scene, both scenes clearly showing how emotionally scarred Michael is. But still. 

I really felt for Michael, though. He really went through hell and was left with deep emotional scars. Josh and Ian have been with him the whole way, so of course they feel strongly for their friend going through such an ordeal. Having a friend being abused or recovering from abuse also affect those around that friend, they also suffers. They suffers differently, but they still suffers. Abuse is a heavy subject and I appreciate books that deals with the subject. I also like Witt's dedications at the beginning of the book:

To anyone who's ever been a Micheal, an Ian, or a Josh.

So, good book, important subject.
It just didn't work for me. Hence no rating.