"The past is never dead. It's not even past. “ William Faulkner
Ty has just moved to Bishop with his teenage son, who he didn't even know existed until a few months ago, and is working to make a go at their relationship, settling in a new town, curbing his wanderlust and life in general. One evening a neighbor lady stops by to complain about his noisy habit of working on motorcycles until the wee hours. It's about the furthest you can get from love at first sight. However, when Ty gets called to the school to pick up his frequently in trouble son, lo and behold there is the neighbor lady, also the school's art teacher, and she is one of the few in the room sticking up for his son. Here starts the interaction and relationship between Ty and the neighbor art teacher, Shelby.
Shelby's story and background is completely saddening. She grew up in a house where her farther tried daily to break her down physically and emotionally and when she escaped into herself by deadening her emotions, he focused on her mother. Her father is dead now but her mother is also in the middle stages of Alzheimer's disease. Every day is a struggle for Shelby and when Ty walks in her door, she sees him as the perfect stress reliever. Their relationship starts off as escapism through sex, some steamy angry sex scenes here folks. Eventually, Ty starts to develop deeper feelings for Shelby and grows tired of feeling used. Shelby not knowing how to accept, understand, or express her feelings for Ty pushes him away, even as she wants to cling to him.
This story, with its characters and themes, was almost too real; it's not easy to read. The author does an amazing job of crafting incredible backgrounds, thought, feelings, and emotions for Ty and Shelby. At times, however, I almost felt like I was reading a story about Shelby and Ty, but separately. The relationship aspect takes a hit because of all the issues Shelby and Ty are dealing with; there really is not a lot of time left over for them. There is also an added story thread dealing with an exboyfriend of Shelby's that could have just been left out, the woman is dealing with enough already and it didn't really add anything to the story.
The writing and pace is good and with this being the third in The Boys of Bishop series, past characters make an appearance but never overwhelm the story and in fact, make me want to go back and visit their stories. Like I said, this is a heavier read but Shelby's past pain and increasingly declining mother coupled with Ty's ongoing struggle to connect with his son make for, while a daunting read, it is also an emotional read guaranteed to remain in your thoughts after you've put the book down.