On a cold, wet afternoon Damian stumbled across a young man huddled beneath a tree crying his eyes out. He’s got more than enough problems of his own, but is compelled to give the bloke a place to crash for at least the night.
Josh is used to being alone, and most days it’s easier than trying to deal with people who can’t, or won’t, understand him. When Damian takes him in for the night, Josh assumes it’s gong to be one more go round of sex and get out in the morning.
Neither of them expects the friendship that develops, and they’re far from prepared when friendship starts to turn into more.
Warning: This story mentions abuse and cutting
Scarred Souls is one of those rare reads where not connecting with the main characters was a good thing. Why? Because both Josh and Damian bear major scars – emotional and physical – and not connecting with them was paramount for my sanity. Not connecting with the characters did not keep me from feeling their pain, their frustration, their calm, their happiness, or their love, it just kept me from feeling them with the same intensity that they did, especially Josh. Scarred Souls is an extremely emotional read and I strongly suggest you take the warning seriously because if self-harm, suicide, or physical or sexual abuse are sensitive issues for you, do NOT read this book.
Kove tackles some very difficult subject matter in Scarred Souls and does so admirably. Much of the book seems to focus on Josh’s issues but for good reason – his scars and behaviors are the most noticeable. Although Josh’s trauma isn’t explained fully in the beginning, the author drops enough clues through Josh’s thoughts and trailing statements that it wasn’t difficult to suss out that he had been physically and sexually abused. Whether his abuse was directly responsible for his personality disorder or not, his coping mechanism is one of the more extreme and difficult to treat. Josh is a cutter and when he meets Damian he is sporting fresh wounds because it was the only way he knew how to deal with recent events. We don’t understand the significance of Damian inviting Josh back to his flat until Damian’s conversation with his roommate Silver. Where Josh’s mood swings are obvious and frequent, Damian is calm and collected for most of the book. Between Josh’s inner musings, journal entries, and conversations with others, it’s easier to figure out where he’s coming from (even when it’s not from a place of logic), but Damian being a man of few words meant that even though I knew something happened to him, I had no inkling of what it was until he actually told Josh about it. And, ummm, yeah, that was disturbing.
While both men have suffered terribly in their pasts, they fit together. It’s not an easy fit because Damian’s asexual nature exacerbates Josh’s insecurities (which are worsened by his personality disorder). Because neither have felt for anyone what they feel for each other, both young men persevere in making it work, even if it takes them a while to define what their relationship is. This is not a case of insta-love or even insta-lust, but rather a situation in which one broken soul (Damian) seems to recognize a kindred spirit (Josh) and cannot turn away from it. Because Kove does such a good job of capturing the chaotic mind of Josh, I suspect that this will prove to be a difficult read for some. Josh has a personality disorder that eschews logic, causing his reactions to be dictated by his emotions, which are unstable, and the writing reflects this perfectly. Scarred Souls is a 5-star read because of how impactful it was for me. I look forward to reading Inked Souls when it’s released because I want to see where things go for Silver and Kian and I hope for updates on Damian and Josh as well.