Sam Walsh is a gifted award-winning highly in-demand architect. He is perfectly put together on the outside. His immaculate clothes, a much-too-cool-for-you sneer and strictly-anonymous one-sided-relationships are his armor, so nothing and no one can touch him. Tiel Desai is brilliant. A brilliant musician, a gifted music therapist and sought after professor and researcher. Long ago exiled from her family she revels in marching to beat of a different drum. Her jingly casualness and non-conformity is her armor. Tiel and Sam would have never gotten to know each other, if the elevator they were riding in didn't first stall and later plummet with them trapped inside.
This is a opposites attract story about two emotionally messed up people drawn to each other even as they try to push each other away. The intense intimacy of surviving that the elevator accident forges a bond between them neither of them quite understands. The adrenaline and the post-survival alcohol and dancing lubricates them enough so they drop their guard enough to become attached to each other. Their relationships is hard to define, not quite platonic but not quite anything else. Their lives start revolving around each other. Tiel interrupts Sam's self-destructive pattern of club hook-ups, filling his evenings with music gigs & band-hunts all over Boston. Before either of them notice they form a real relationship, even if they can't quite define it, and willfully mislabel it.
Eventually the late-night cuddles & affectionate touches escalate to the point they have admit to they have been more than just friends but they both have a horrible time admitting they want more. They both have an incredible amount of baggage around sex and relationships. Their issues are big enough that their sexual chemistry can't paper over it. Their insecurities and self-sabotage sink them. They are in any position to heal each other but instead they spur each other to get their lives in order and stop hiding from their issues. It is only after they have faced those issues that they become strong enough to claim each other.
It was fascinating how my feelings about Tiel morphed as the book progressed. Initially I saw her the same way Sam did, a confident, mature and self-contained. But as the book progresses her jealousy, and inability to accurately value her talents becomes more evident. As the book progresses the subtle nature of Tiel's self-destructive nature comes to the fore. The vulnerability Tiel tries to hide when she first encounters Sam's family felt very raw and painfully real. The differences between their families of origin, and the distinct nature of their messed up relationships with them are not small obstacles to overcome and I appreciated that Canterbary takes them seriously.
I normally avoid books where cheating or the suspcion of it a crucial plot element. Sam doesn't, but Tiel's fears that he will. While not blind to the source of her insecurities (her horrible first marriage and Sam's reputation as player), she doesn't see till fairly late in the book how she courted and feed her insecurities. I was pretty mad at Sam for failing to see how some of his behavior would look, and not protecting Tiel from it. But Sam is so incredibly destroyed when it all explodes and the fact that he take the time to get himself better that I couldn't stay mad at him for long and I was relieved when Tiel forgave him too. Their reconciliation in someways feels one sided as Sam is the one who has to do the big gesture but I think Tiel's transformation was just as significant and made it possible for her to forgive and claim Sam rather than turning him away.
This was my first Walsh book and my first book by Kate Canterbary. Although this book was way angstier and more tortured than my usual, I will definitely look for more of her books as I was able to enjoy a story-line that I normally avoid.
I received a review copy of Necessary Restorations from the author via NetGalley