Jason Atkinson had a great life. He was an accomplished professor and married to Morgan, a man he loved, and Morgan was devoted to Jason. Except, 18 months ago, Jason found out that Morgan was a serial killer. Jason’s world fell apart and the media followed his every move. Now that Morgan has been sentenced, Jason has moved hours away, changed his name, and gotten a new job. But Jason’s mental health is fragile and his trust in everyone and everything has been shattered. It also doesn’t help that even from prison, Morgan is able to throw up one roadblock after another to stall the divorce that Jason desperately wants. All Jason knows is that 20 years of his life has been a lie and he will never recover.
Sklyar Dawson is one of Jason’s new students and he’s outgoing and talkative and goes after what he wants—and what he currently wants is Jason. Skylar has no idea what Jason has been through and is determined to crack Jason’s gruff exterior. And, despite all of Jason’s reasons why he needs to stay away from Skylar, he is drawn into Skylar’s effortless smile and bright personality. But Jason’s struggles are all too real and he’s certain he will only dim Skylar’s light, even if what is happening between them feels real.
The idea of Jason finding out he was married to a serial killer intrigued me from the start and my interest was high in reading The Endless Road to Sunshine. As the book opens, we get thrown into Jason’s life, as it’s been 18 months since his husband was arrested and he has now been sentenced. Jason’s life is completely destroyed on every level and he has an intense sense of guilt as well regarding the victims, for reasons revealed in the story. He has his close friend, who is also his lawyer. And, while Jason probably shouldn’t have been teaching since he is completely unraveled, he doesn’t know what else to do with himself and is trying to carry on.
Skylar is the opposite of Jason. He’s younger and appears carefree, has a smile for everyone, talks nonstop, and listens to endless music as loud as he can get it. In private though, Skylar has a sadness that lingers from his relationship with his mother’s husband, to being dismissed by men when he wanted something more than one night.
Skylar is persistent and Jason has to reveal more of himself than he wants to as the story progresses. While Jason is Skylar’s teacher and Jason knows he shouldn’t be dating a student, the story doesn’t create a power imbalance.
James did a great job with creating both Jason and Skylar. The emotional turmoil that Jason is in is well written and Skylar’s world, while not as harsh, is vividly felt as well. The overall story, however, was highly predictable for me, more than I expected and more than I wanted it to be. Everything from Morgan’s behavior to how Jason and Skylar’s entire story played out was too predictable and too obvious and, while I did enjoy the journey, I would have preferred to not see every plot point coming ahead of time. And then while the guys did deserve a break at some point, some of the threads were tied up too easily, most notably Skylar’s relationship with his mother’s husband.
Nicky James’ books are always written about intriguing topics and the depth of emotions she writes into her characters is always worth a look.