All Stirred Up by Z.A. Maxfield
This was a spontaneous purchase, as Maxfield announced the book was out and I happened to be re-reading the first of the set. I bought it that morning and finished it by evening. It wasn't an amazing book--I didn't break down crying or feel bubbling with joy, and I didn't come out of it feeling like a better person, or with the desire to be a better person. But it was a good book. It did exactly what a book is supposed to do by playing upon my emotions while taking me along the story. A perfect beach read, which is what I needed at the moment! (Mind you, sans the beach.) I think I actually enjoyed this more than the first one.
PTSD. Maxfield's portrayal of Brendan's panic attacks and anxiety felt realistic. While on one hand it's a clever plot device, I liked how it showed a different type of PTSD, since most show the most debilitating where it's in constant effect and that's not always the case. Brendan is confident and cocksure, if not exhausted, but when he has an attack, all his weaknesses show.
Breach of ethics. When Dirk (get your giggles out now) and Brendan hook up for the first time, all I could think was "No! You can't do that!" But thankfully Maxfield addressed it and recognized that I psychiatrists couldn't behave that way without breaking the profession's code of ethics. She smartly played the situation to the advantage of plot progression. In addition, once Brendan arrives at the recuperation center, he's tentative about trusting the people there, but through several short glimpses, we can see how he would change his mind without having to be shown the entire time.
Characters. Dirk and Brendan are enjoyable characters who, while not perfect, don't have too many, or too big of, flaws to make them unappealing. The relationship and my love of them started off rocky, but as the novel progressed, so did they and I like how they handled everything upon Brendan's return to New York. In addition, we get to see more of Evan and Toby!
This is a beach read and must be read as such. If you want something deep, dark, or thought provoking, go elsewhere. (No points taken off for that, although I rarely mark a beach read as a 5-star read.)