Fifteen years ago, Elijah Langley's world came to an abrupt halt with the death of his high school boyfriend. He keeps his past - and his sexual orientation - hidden until he attends a fundraiser for The Center for HOPE, an LGBT youth center, where he meets Adam Lancaster, HOPE's infuriatingly stubborn and sexy founder.
A survivor of a turbulent childhood, Adam understands better than most the challenges his youth face. He's drawn to Elijah's baby blues and devilish smile but refuses to compromise his values and climb back into the closet for anyone - not even the man showering time and money on HOPE. Months of constant flirting wear down Adam's resolve until he surrenders to his desires, but Elijah can't shake his demons.
When a youth from the center is brutally assaulted, Elijah must find a way to confront the fears and memories that are starting to ruin his life, so he can stand strong for those he loves.
©2015 Shell Taylor (P)2016 Dreamspinner Press
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"Well written and authentic"
Eli is a rich guy and a big fish in a small pond. He had a bad experience in high school that has led him to closeted life and/or identifying more bi leaning het than anything since.
Adam is the polar opposite. He wears his sexuality like a badge of honor and runs a center for LGBT youth in the same small town.
After a fund raiser Adam and Eli strike up a back and forth enmity of attraction and some scorn on Adam’s part. They end up devoting most of their time together building the Adam’s new center and helping one of the kids, Kollin, deal with his homophobic parents.
Without giving away too much of the story, something happens to Kollin that forces Eli’s hand and makes him face his “issues”.
Now that I’ve read the subsequent books in this series, I can appreciate this book for what it has to offer more than I did on it’s initial reading.
I absolutely loved watching Eli emerge from his past through his work with Kollin and the center. (We just got to see the amazing person Kollin turns into in Book 3 and the groundwork is laid here.)
Adam was both fun and annoying in that he kept pushing Eli away then drawing him back in, but he was blunt and snarky and another great character. I was just as frustrated as Eli by his hot and cold routine, but – again – after reading Book 2 – a lot of his actions make more sense.
Occasionally I didn’t feel Eli behaved as I’d expect a man in his position to act, and this brought me out of the story at times. Adam, however, continually felt “real” if wishy-washy.
For the most part I think this story does a really good job of staying in the land of “possible” and really feeling authentic. There were lots of ways the characters showed very human reactions and yet there was still the appropriately sweet (sometimes hot) romance taking place.
As the first book in a really amazing series I think this did a fantastic job of starting things off with a bang and gives the reader a lot to both love and hope for in the coming installments.
4.5 of 5 stars
Drew Rosenberg is a new narrator to me, and according to Audible this is his only narration. His voice was really smooth and very easy to listen to. To me he did this very “serious and sometimes heavy” book a disservice in that his voices are sometimes more like caricatures than authentic people. It was nice that he differentiated people and tried to give them dramatic personas (Eli’s Dad sounds like Daddy Warbucks and Kollin is very, very swishy) but to me the author did such a tremendous job of making the characters NOT into stereotypes or OTT clichés that Drew's interpretation takes away some of that authenticity. That being said it was still a very good narration and I really did enjoy it, but I just wanted something a little more toned down for this story. I also didn’t hear the Southern accents I was expecting given the location and instead heard more upper East Coast than I think was appropriate.
4.5 of 5 stars for both book and narration
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