Reviewed by Ami
Title: War Paint
Author: Sarah Black
Series: States of Love
Heroes: Ben & Eli
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 88 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Available at: Dreamspinner Press & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: There’s an art to love.
Mural artist Ben has come from Tel Aviv to Atlanta to work on a commission. A successful artist, he’s still lonely and isolated after his family’s rejection. Ben is charmed and surprised when local soldier Eli mistakes him for homeless, and brings him a cup of coffee and a biscuit. This gesture opens the door. Eli is lost, trying to make sense of a future without the Army after a combat injury ends his career.
Art gives them a new language and a path forward. But lost men can reach out, desperate to hang on to anyone close. Is what they find together real, and the kind of love that will last?
The war paint, it gave me back something I thought I had lost when they took my uniform. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I could see myself again.
Eli mistakenly thinks that Ben – who sits on a bench with his dog on his feet across of a diner where Eli has been contemplating what to do with his life after Army – as homeless and he gives Ben his biscuit. Afterwards, love and friendship blooms between the two men as they – probably – save each other as well…
For me, Sarah Black’s stories are always more than just romance. There’s MEANING behind it, and it is like balm to my soul. War Paint delves into the life of young ex-soldier, Eli, who has been struggling after he is no longer welcome into the Army due to his injury… as well as Ben, an experienced street artist who – at the time when Eli finds him sitting on the bench – is losing his inspiration to his latest project.
I am in love with this tale … in his young life, the Army is everything for Eli. He leaves his home because his parents are not exactly at peace with his sexuality. When Eli is no longer part of the Army, he doesn’t know what to do. His counselor has instructed Eli to write down his thoughts in a journal and to explore what vocations he can do instead. When Ben gives Eli his camera, it’s like Ben gives himself back.
Ben has also been uprooted of his old life somewhat – he left Tel Aviv after telling his family about his sexuality and he have never returned. He travels a lot, doing his street arts project by project, but never really have a place he can call home.
“If disaster strikes, I don’t have a shield. No family, no home. Nothing to anchor me to a place. It feels sort of, I don’t know, thin. Like the barriers that protect me from the world, the walls I’ve built for myself, are thin.”
And Eli, beautiful young Eli, has given Ben an inspiration of someone to hold on to. Eli who flourishes with his idea about war paint and how it is a protection for people who wear it.
Sarah Black’s writing is exquisite and evocative… which is why I find myself willing to return to her book, again and again.
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*