Don’t go there for the mystery, there is barely one and it is developed and resolved in one scene.Don’t expect much steam, the MCs are at odds during the first part of the book and frequently apart.Don’t count on a developing contrary romance to angst over. Both MCs are openly gay, they’re settled in a convenient relationship, they usually don’t lie to each other and they don’t agonize over their romantic feelings.Then what?Swift’s characterization did it all for me, kept as it is on the edge of a writing precipice but never falling over. The story is told from his POV and is always precariously close to being too pathetic, always within a hair’s breadth of what could be an insufferable self-pity trip if it wasn’t skilfully balanced.No assault of witty retorts, Swift is basically without any shell, but a humorous touch here and there and the funny chapters’ beginnings contribute to balancing the angst, because angst there is.It comes from the hard truth that even if Swift has stayed away from cocaine for six years, there is no such thing as full recovery and when the craving hits, it hits without warning and hard. His helpless hunger squeezed my heart and Barry’s relapse teared it up.Swift is self-centered but he’s fighting hard and his focus is as much necessary as revealing of the relentless fight against addiction.He is wallowing in his past but he tries to help someone else and he loves Max who doesn’t show saintly resignation when Swift messes up and offers tranquil strength when it’s needed. Max utters the most painful word of this story but when the romance shows its comfort face, how sweet it is!Max smoothed the thin skin between Swift's shoulder blades."This is where your wings used to be."Hurt/comfort stories often have me rolling my eyes or seething with anger because there is something indecent in hammering pathos without restraint. Well done, it pushes all my buttons and Come Unto These Yellow Sands worked beautifully for me.