PIERCING THE NIGHT
Cary Stilwell has been existing since he was ten years old, and each year it gets harder to find meaning in his bleak life. The only exception - his work. As a top-billed aerialist in a popular travelling circus, he enjoys accolades and applause, but little else. When notable photographer, Rhys McIntyre, joins the circus to catalogue its inner workings, Cary fights the attraction that hits him from the moment they meet. But a kind soul wrapped in a beautiful body has a way of battering all the walls Cary has built around his cold, dark heart.
Rhys McIntyre is on his third iteration of reinventing himself. Once a hotdog financier, he embraced his passion for photography and became an eminent war photo journalist. Until one too many bullets lodged in his body, and he gave up the front lines for the softer side of chronicling life. When he accepts the assignment to record life in a circus, the last thing he expects is to find the man crush of his dreams. Except Cary Stilwell is a cold, tortured man who seems incapable of any warm emotion, never mind love. But Rhys is known for his persistence, and this time the pay-off might be more than he could have ever imagined.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
NOTE: See author’s notes for additional content warnings. Living On Air is my first experience with the writing of Susan Mac Nicol and I’ve got to say, I’m hooked! Looking into this fascinating author just got me more intrigued and I can’t wait to discover more. This book is a winner, with amazing characters and a captivating story which flows so perfectly that I couldn’t put it down. There are some tough subjects and intense emotions in Living On Air, though the overall mood is hopeful. As the main story progresses it is interspersed with light and intimate moments which kept me focused on a happy outcome for these characters. One of the most enjoyable parts of Living On Air is the unique and colorful cast of characters. I love the way the circus folk interact, and all the subplots would make a novel I’d enjoy all on its own. Susan Mac Nicol’s descriptions of circus life are so vivid I could just imagine what life with this small, close-knit group of people would be like. As the story flows along and the characters reveal more about themselves we see so deeply into their hearts, which are flawed and complex and interesting. Twenty-three years ago ten-year-old Christopher Spencer escaped a gruesome and horrific event and thankfully found a home with the Trazellas Circus. Assuming a new name, Cary Stilwell immerses himself in the therapeutic relief that “focusing on the silks” provides. Even though life in the circus is a diversion from his traumatic memories, the most effective way he’s found of coping is through self-harming. Despite his fear of clowns, charming and vivacious photographer Rhys McIntyre is intrigued by the opportunity to chronicle circus life as his next assignment. Rhys has ghosts of his own, between his traumatic experiences as a photojournalist in war zones and the heartbreaking death of his lover, he welcomes this chance to surround himself with good things for awhile. The attraction is palpable every time these two men interact, and even though Cary tries to push him away with his best acerbic persona, Rhys can’t resist Cary’s beauty and vows to heal his damaged soul. Rhys is so charming, between his adorable Scottish accent and mannerisms he gradually works his way into Cary’s life. When Cary’s desperate need for love wins out, he realizes if he wants a new life he must face his demons and make things right. Susan Mac Nicol does a beautiful job with the alternating points-of-view in Living On Air. I love seeing each man experience the same event and how it affects them. There are some huge reveals and seeing Rhys ponder how it will affect Cary, and then seeing it all through Cary’s eyes…it’s just marvelous! Living On Air is a beautiful and hopeful romance and well worth the emotional roller coaster this book will take you on. Rhys drawing Cary out of his shell and bringing him into the present, and Cary’s journey to face his demons just wrung me dry; and I can’t wait to let Susan Mac Nicol do it to me all over again.
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. There comes along, once in a rare while, a book that PUSHES you. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. It pushes your skill at writing a coherent review, but most of all, it PUSHES you to get into the mind of someone close you, that you hadn't been able to before. And OMG this book PUSHED me! So if my review goes awry, it's because I can't get the right words out, okay?? Cary has his own coping methods to deal with a major childhood trauma. Except, he isn't dealing with it, not really, he just deals with the pain his coping method causes. And he is good at hiding what he is doing. Rhys comes to the circus to take pictures, that's all. Pictures to go in a book. But Cary has a powerful reaction to Rhys, and vice versa, and the circus folk are amusing watching Rhys PUSH Cary. But they both carry scars, physical and emotional, and when Cary decides to confront his, he PUSHES Rhys away. Finding to so difficult to write this, I really am, without bawling my eyes out. I'm not giving anything away by saying Cary self harms, and from the very first PAGE we get it. And getting into Cary's mindset when he does what he does, THAT is the hardest thing I found to read in this book. Someone VERY close to me used to do this, not to the extent that Cary does, but close. I could never get my head round the why she did this, it made no sense to me at all. And their trauma was totally different to Cary's but getting into Cary's mind as he descends into oblivion, made me understand a little bit better WHY she did this. And trust me when I say this, the amount of attention to detail, and research gone into this book, is OUTSTANDING! Cary's trauma and coping methods, what happened after. Rhys' own trauma, while not as in depth as Cary's, is bad too. Cary on his silks, I could SEE him, you know?? It was just like being there! And now?? Now I want to see the guy who Ms Mac Nicol used as inspiration for Cary and his silks. The scene where the title came to make complete and total sense?? I had to go sit out the back for a few minutes, because I really did cry at that! I started to read this at work (don't tell anyone!) and I had to keep putting it down. I had to keep putting it down when a particular chapter was difficult, or too emotional and I was getting upset. Had I been at home, I have no doubt I would have bawled my way through and read the whole book in one go. Or at least I would have tried to. Because this is not a fluffy romance, it is not an easy read and it's not even a Happily Ever After. But what it is, is an outstanding piece of work that Susan Mac Nicol should call her Masterpiece of writing. There is a little author's note on the blurb, I strongly suggest you heed it. While Cary and Rhys don't get a full Happily Ever After, they do get a Happy For Now. Both guys have a lot of healing to do, individually and as a couple. I just hope Ms Mac Nicol will write them a Happily Ever After, and SOON!!! I can't word how much, even though it is an emotionally gut wrenching read, how much I LOVED this book. You know what?? Brand new shelf on Goodreads, just for books like this. It's title?? Masterpieces. 5 stars, but only because I can't give it anymore! **same worded review will appear elsewhere**
Living on Air is a beautiful yet dark story. It tells of Cary, who went through something so horrific it still affects him to this day. And then we have Rhys, who has lived in war zones and seen the darker side of life for himself. When these two meet, there is an implosion that will affect both of their lives. This was my first book by Susan Mac Nicol, and it definitely won't be my last. The story was woven with intricate details - enough so you can feel sympathy for the characters, or live vicariously through their triumphs - but without going into too much detail that it becomes gratuitous. I will say that Rhys deserves a medal for putting up with Cary's moods, but I can also see why he would. The attraction is there, that pull you can't ignore, even if you want to. Rhys and Cary do make an excellent couple, but you are kept on tenterhooks. The story flows exceedingly well, and the scenes transition from one to the next without disruption. There were no editing or grammatical errors that disrupted my reading flow, and the characters were all vivid enough to jump out of the pages. I will say one thing - Cary may not be the crying type, but I certainly am. I had to re-read the last few chapters as the words kept blurring in front of me! Absolutely recommended. * A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. * Merissa Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!