“I pull myself together. I try so hard to hide this stormy weather. I can't let them see this indication of unhappiness; but deep down inside, I'm just a wrecked mess.” ~ Chelsea Ashdown (Wrecked Mess)
Rief, of 'Wrecked' by Deanna Wadsworth, is in love with the idea of Mathew even before he meets him. Rief has the gift of prophesy and has been painting images of Mathew for years. Imagine his surprise when he comes face-to-face with Mathew, realizing this man isn't just a dream, but a real, flesh and blood man. Despite their myriad of differences, Mathew, who has vehemently kept his attraction to men a secret, can't deny his feelings for Rief anymore than Rief, also in the closet, can deny them for Mathew. They must find a way to bridge the gap between them or stay wrecked the rest of their lives.
Aside from the badgering and insults Mathew received daily from his father, Mathew lives a charmed life. He is the son of a duke and his only heir; he has a shipping business, money, status, a large inheritance from his aunt, and is engaged to a beautiful young woman, his best friend since childhood. Yet Mathew feels unhappy and trapped in a lie that he doesn't dare admit; he's attracted to men. So far, Mathew has managed to quell his desires, but when he meets Rief, the attraction is so strong he almost spontaneously combusts. Mathew can't stay away from Rief, no matter what. When he finally tastes this passion, there's no going back. Mathew has to have more and throws caution to the wind. When tragedy strikes, Mathew realizes just how much he's willing to give up to be with Rief forever and begins to formalize a plan to make it happen.
Rief has been an outcast for most of his life. Before his mother killed herself, he was her favorite. Unfortunately he foretold her death in one of his prophetic portraits, which alienates him from his father and, subsequently, from the entire community. Everyone is afraid of him, fearing that if he paints them they will die. He has enough rejection and scorn as it is. He prefers men just like Mathew does and keeps it hidden for the same reason. Rief is depressed and lonely. The only contact Rief has with other men has been rushed and emotionally unfulfilling. He needs more. When Mathew and Rief consummate their growing attraction, it's an extremely emotional and physical experience. They realize they are in love as well as lust, and want to be together forever. Rief has no idea how that could be achieved but when Mathew comes up with a plan, he is certainly willing to try.
This historical romance portrays life in Key West in the mid 1800s when loving another man was a capital crime punishable by imprisonment and death. Rief and Mathew were highly aware of the risks they were taking, but felt that their love was worth it. Besides that, the men completed each other; together, their strengths and weaknesses were balanced and their lives were infinitely better. If you enjoy stories about history, romance between men, ships, ports, the supernatural, and most of all, a happy ending, you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Deanna, for the glimpse into Rief and Mathew's life.