Elpida 2: Tharros by C.Kennedy

Title : Tharros                             Word Count:109,942
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. Almost. He has great friends, parents who love him just the way he is, and he was a champion hurdler until someone took out his knee when they kidnapped his boyfriend. Yet, Michael is determined to make the USATF tryouts in spite of his injuries.

Christy Castle is Michael’s entire world. Healing from years of abuse, his abduction by a predator has left him hiding a new secret as he tries to start his life again. Together, Michael and Christy work to recover from their wounds in time to make prom and graduate high school. To complicate matters, Christy is astonished to learn a fellow victim from his native Greece has survived. Christy will stop at nothing to bring him to the US to keep him safe.

But the prosecution of Christy’s kidnapper looms large in their futures and the struggle to return to normal only worsens. Christy’s past continues to haunt them and, when the prosecution turns ugly and Christy’s new life is torn apart, only their unrelenting courage and determination can save them from the nightmare that threatens to destroy their future together.

My Review: Tharros means courage in Greek and that was exactly what was shown in the second half of the love story of Christy and Michael. The story picks up where it left off from the first novel. Christy has just been found by Michael severely abused and raped by the monster who has abused him for most of his childhood years. This is a horrific tale of innocence lost and the injustices that monsters perpetrate on children everyday. Christy is in his last year of high school and has lived a lifetime of horror already. It is only the steadfast love of his boyfriend Michael and the great support system that he has in Michael’s family and friends that keeps Christy’s sanity intact.
The things that these two young lovers have endured in their short time together has definitely made them stronger. They are constantly harrangued by the press for the story of Christy’s recent kidnapping and Michael’s heroic actions to get him back. Most of their time is spent recuperating from their injuries and getting back to some semblance of normal. Although Christy is in a fragile mindset, he is given something new to focus on when he finds out that Thimi another little boy who endured similar atrocities is still alive. Christy does everything in his power with the help of the adults in his life to bring about Thimi’s safe passage to the United States.
It is the little joys of everyday life that helps Christy and Michael to continue their journey. They prepare for their prom while they go to physiotherapy to get their bodies healthy. Michael is very happy when all his physiotherapy pays off when his injured knee gets better. Micheal will be able to continue with his high school track team.Christy really looks forward to the event of prom and he is truly happy with the most simplistic things like finding a dress and wearing a beautiful corsage. Christy revels in his femininity and Michael supports him without suppressing the effeminate side of Christy. He embraces everything that is Christy.

 The rest of their time is spent getting ready for the trial of Yosef Sanna , the monster who abused Christy. It is very heart-rending for Michael to watch the almost catatonic state that Christy has reverted to as he testifies. Christy perseveres under the pressure, but he is utterly gutted and broken when Yosef yells horrible untruths about Christy’s mother not loving him. Christy flees the courtroom and by the time Michael figures out where he could be it’s almost too late. Michael finds him at the top of a ferris wheel , inconsolable , sobbing and wanting to die. Christy’s psyche is shattered to pieces and he believes he is the dirty little whore that his abusers want him to be.
Once again Christy ends up in the hospital where Michael stays with him. Michael is a fortitude of strength for his beautiful Christy. While they are there the verdict is passed and Yosef Sanna gets life in prison. However, it is the fact that Thimi, the poor abused little boy will be coming to the United States that gives Christy the strength to endure. Christy is definitely brave and has shown great courage in fostering new relationships and forming connections with people that are not tainted by abuse. Michael’s love for him remains strong and helps to heal Christy day by day. I give this my ratings of 3- because as much as I love these beautiful characters, there was just too many unrealistic dramas happening throughout this story. I actually set this book aside for more than a month before I was able to finish it. It was my love for Michael and Christy that made me pick it up again.

Safe 2: Safe in his Heart by Renae Kaye

Title : Safe in his Heart                                Word Count:93,035
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Andrew and Paul learned about God and Jesus in different churches and realize their views of spirituality are worlds apart.

Andrew was raised Catholic and was told his homosexuality was a sin. For his entire life, he hid the truth. He married and had children to present a façade to the world—that of a straight man. It’s not until he has an affair with Paul, who shows him a different side of Jesus, that Andrew realizes he can be gay and still believe in God. Paul’s Jesus is one of acceptance and love, and in Paul’s church, being gay is not a problem.

For Paul and Andrew, falling in love is the easy part of their journey. They must make it through the fires of cheating, being discovered, Andrew’s wife leaving, the necessities of childcare and family life, the demands of their jobs, and working on their commitment to each other. Only then can they be safe in each other’s heart.

My Review: I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to this book. Here’s why, the whole premise of this book is based on breaking marriage vows, cheating, down low and inevitably possibly pulling apart a family with young children. However, this story is real, it’s something that happens all the time. There are so many men who suppress their sexuality for the sake of their families or due to religious beliefs and lead half of a life. Andrew is one of these men, he is married with two children and he says his wife doesn’t care about his extramarital affairs as long as he is discreet. Andrew comes off a little bit as a slut. The first time Paul makes eye contact with him is while Andrew is getting skewered in the bathroom stall of the gym and loving it. Paul is extremely turned on , but is a bit unsettled when he notices the wedding band on Andrew’s ring finger. As soon as Andrew is done , he offers himself up to Paul. Paul resists as he is a bit skeptical about getting involved with a married man.
Even though Andrew is rebuffed a few more times by Paul, he is not offended and there are no hard feelings between the two men. They start working out together and give each other pointers. The attraction that Paul feels for Andrew increases and it’s getting harder to resist this pushy bottom who doesn’t take no for an answer. There is definitely no temerity in Andrew and he goes after Paul like a greedy dog goes after a bone. Andrew attacks Paul voraciously the first time they hook up in a hotel. Andrew acted like a well trained porn star and Paul was in awe of this shameless man he was getting a glimpse of.
It soon becomes clear that Andrew’s powers to compartmentalize are becoming muddled when he starts thinking about cuddling with his hookup. Andrew is greedy for more material for the Vault, the place in his mind where he keeps all illicit thoughts and moments locked away. They go hot and heavy for a few weeks and the sex between them is passionate and the best they’ve both had. Andrew knows this is more than a hookup for him, as things have certainly moved into the category of having an affair.
Unlike Andrew who just brushes off his married status, Paul feels guilty at times. It is not until an acquaintance mentions that Andrew has kids that Paul feels the serious recriminations of his actions. Paul cancels a few of their hotel meetings, but before long they are back to their routine again. Andrew is shocked and petrified when he realizes that Paul knows about his kids, but he doesn’t know what to do as he is not ready for Paul to leave. In their own way, they both come to the realization that they are in love. They try not to let on their feelings for each other as they don’t want to put pressure on each other.
Little do they know that their lives are about to be changed and even more intersected when Andrew’s wife decides to leave him for another man. Andrew is selfishly upset at his wife for going back to her former married lover. He says he’s upset at how she left her kids, not really at the fact that she was throwing away the deal that they had. It is really sad that for him their marriage was just a cover story, something to keep his down low activities separate. Paul steps in seemlessly to help Andrew deal with his kids and get his home in order. He becomes more entrenched in the day to day running of Andrew’s family which leaves Andrew feeling a sense of fear at being discovered, but also one of rightness.
It doesn’t take Paul long to see the harsh realities of Andrew’s life. He soon realizes Andrew’s selfishness as he expects Paul to just fall into a role of taking care of his kids without the outward acknowledgement of being his boyfriend. Andrew still expects to play it straight to the world. Paul is hurt by Andrew’s expectations and nips this in the bud by telling him his position on what he expects out of their relationship. From Andrew’s arguments Paul understands that he feels dirty and ashamed at being gay and that is a problem steeped in Andrew’s religious beliefs which is the foundation of his life.
They both realize that they have to make some changes if they are to move forward. Paul takes Andrew to his parents church so that he can gain a new perspective on religion and what it looks like from the Anglican denomination. Andrew and the pastor have a real heart to heart about religion and how to understand and interpret it from a perspective that is not so archaic. Andrew leaves feeling like his foundation has been shaken and with his eyes more open. Andrew has a renewed love for God and Paul is right there to give him the support he needs.
Paul and Andrew have settled into a routine with the kids and are forming their own family rituals. They work together in perfect harmony and Andrew knows it’s definitely time to come out to the world. Andrew’s wife Kristy comes back when she hears rumours of him being gay. Her first time meeting Paul is explosive but she is calmed when Andrew reasons with her. They work out the logistics of their divorce amicably and she actually stands by their side to tell their straight laced families. They are far from pleased and this is definitely not a story book ending. However ,Paul and Andrew stand strong in the face of adversity. They are not picture perfect and definitely not without faults, but they love each other. Within their love they able to grow stronger as a couple and as fathers to two beautiful children. This is definitely the stamp of a great author, because even though I was on the fence at the beginning, I really ended up loving this couple by the end. They were faced with a hard situation and harsh choices of their own making, but they really pulled together through their love in a believable way. I give this my ratings of 4 -lose the underwear.