Scars We Hide (CadburyNovel 2) by Jaclyn Osborn

​Title: Scars we Hide             Word Count: 308 pgs

Genre :Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Trust makes you vulnerable. Weak. Peyton Evans learned that lesson long ago. Being shuffled between foster homes since he was five, and then surviving for so long on his own, he has kept a wall around his heart. The abuse he suffered at the age of fifteen refuses to fade into the past, and the scars it caused impact him every day. He’d thought he’d found love before, but that relationship showed him once again that trust only led to more pain.

Struggling with an addiction he developed as a teenager, Torin Hayes found himself one screw up away from going to prison and decided to get clean. But a sudden incident threatens to send him back down that rocky path, and he fears people will never look past his intimidating appearance and will only see the tattooed delinquent he’s been labeled as for years. Moving to Cadbury, Oklahoma is his only way to start over.

When the two men meet, the attraction between them is far from instant, but Torin’s persistence blurs Peyton’s opinion of him as a tattooed bad boy who will break his heart and shatter him all over again. Peyton’s scars run deep and make it hard for him to let go of his fear and accept a love he doesn’t feel he deserves. But, when it comes to matters of the heart, even the most strategic plans can change.

*Trigger warning: This story contains content that may be sensitive for some readers. The triggers are: drug/alcohol abuse and flashbacks of sexual abuse including rape. This is Book 2 in the Cadbury series, but can be read as a standalone.*

My Review: The main character Torin has a lot of demons plaguing him. Torin a recovering alcoholic has just lost his best friend/ fuck buddy to a drug overdose. This causes Torin to relapse and go on a bender. His uncle steps in and decides to take him to his hometown in Cadbury. This is exactly the break that Torin needs to get away from all the bad influences. From the moment he lays eyes on the quaint little house that his uncle sets him up in, he knows that he can finally make a change in his life. He quickly starts looking for a job, but his bad boy persona coupled with a scar on his face can be very off-putting. 

Torin meets Peyton, the sexy blond barista that works in the coffee shop where he is applying for a job. Torin is smitten and there is an innocence and vulnerability that surrounds Peyton that makes him want to protect him. He is turned down for the job, but that does not stop him from asking Peyton out. Peyton is very attracted to the sexy bad boy , but he is cautious about relationships because of his experiences. 

All the people in Peyton’s life has always left him by the wayside. He was taken from his drug addicted mother and put in foster care. When he was finally placed with a family, he was sexual abused by his foster bother constantly. Peyton’s foster brother caused him a lot of emotional scars making him feel unloved and unworthy. Peyton tends to shy away from relationships because of the pain he believes will come from it.

Peyton tells Torin he is only interested in some no strings attached fun and Torin agrees. They both find out soon enough that won’t work. Peyton causes Torin to yearn for more, because he is the only guy that keeps Torin’s demons at bay. When Torin is with Peyton, he doesn’t think about drinking. He starts wanting more and this scares Peyton. It seems that Peyton has become his new drug of choice. When Peyton’s  ex Luke accuses Torin for not being good enough, that sets him on edge. Torin realizes in  that  moment that his sobriety is definitely going to be an uphill battle when he almost has a panic attack. He calls Peyton right then to see if he can soothe his raging demons.

 From the tone of his voice Peyton comes to the conclusion that something is  very wrong with Torin and rushes to his side. Peyton has to admit to himself that he does care for his sexy badboy. Torin opens up to Peyton telling him about his addiction  and about his grief over his bestfriend. However,  he stirs up a lot of Peyton’s demons when he pushes too hard , too fast. When Peyton rejects him , he gets really upset and this pushes Peyton even further into his shell because of his past abuse. Torin doesn’t understand that Peyton’s rejection stems more from self preservation than anything else. Here are two guys who are so damaged that they don’t recognize that they are each other’s healing  balm.

After about a week , Torin’s heart is aching after all his texts to Peyton has gone unanswered. He decides to take the bull by the horns and see if Peyton will give him another shot. At first , Peyton  rebuffs him but when Tor turns to leave he realize that he really want to lead a normal life where he can have a boyfriend. Tor is ecstatic that Peyton is willing to give them a chance. They start out slow and their makeup sex is extremely hot.They are with each other everyday and even though it’s slow going Peyton starts to open up a little more. He goes more in depth and tells Torin about being raped by his foster brother Jason. All of his insecurities are laid bare, his feelings of worthlessness and his stuttering. The pieces of the puzzle that is Peyton all comes together and Torin gets a better understanding of the man who has captured his heart. 

Torin has turned into the sweetest most loving boyfriend and this causes Peyton’s healing to progress. Torin encourages him to speak to a professional and finally Peyton acknowledges that he does need help.These two men are able to find their strength from within each other to help heal their individual scars. Torin continues to go to AA meetings so that he can be a better man to support his sweet Peyton. Torin introduces Peyton to his mother and brother when they come for the holidays. Peyton sees how warm and loving Tor is with them and he feels a sense of belonging for the first time ever. They both work together to overcome any residual fear of intimacy leftover from Peyton’s past abuse. It’s slow going but Tor is very patient and so protective of his ‘baby boy’. Their relationship progress to the next level where they move in together and Tor gets Peyton a cat. The love that they feel for each other is something that is almost tangible. I really enjoyed watching these two men healing each others hearts. Their sexual chemistry was definitely a big plus as well. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear. 

Frozen 1:Innocent by Scarlet Blackwell

​Title: Innocent    Word Count: 38,349

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: Gabriel Black is at his remote Alaskan cabin finishing his new novel when a man breaks in and holds him prisoner. Ethan is frozen to the bone and carrying a gun, his origin a mystery. Heat ignites instantly between Gabriel and Ethan and the lines between captive and captor soon start to blur. Ethan is an enigma, a man surely on the run, maybe a dangerous criminal, but Gabriel is drawn to Ethan’s broken spirit and damaged soul. What secrets is Ethan keeping and is he, as he claims, innocent?

My Review: Gabriel Black is at his cabin trying to write his next novel when he is surprised by an intruder. His first impression of the man pointing a gun at him is that he is very handsome. Gabriel knows he’s in trouble , but so far his captor Ethan has not hurt him. Ethan is definitely in trouble with the law, but there is a vulnerability and a gentleness that belies the fact that he could be a hardened criminal. 

Gabriel gets hot and bothered by his sexy captor after sleeping the whole night pressed against his body. He tries to seduce Ethan the next morning , but he has to admit to himself that he is not just doing it to gain his freedom. There is a sexual tension between these two men.  Gabriel is really turned on by Ethan and it’s obvious to him that Ethan is repressing his sexuality.

 Gabriel has to remind himself that he has a partner back home even though things have been rocky for them lately. He is almost sure that their relationship is about to end, but he still wants to remain loyal. Confirmation of the end of their relationship comes when his partner Jack calls to tell Gabriel that he has been having an affair with Gabriel’s best friend Jordan. The betrayal hits Gabriel extremely hard and he breaks down in front of Ethan. 

Ethan feels horrible for the heartbreak that Gabriel is enduring because of his cheating ex. Ethan wants to comfort this sweet man, but instead he gives him some time alone to pull himself together. Gabriel’s sobs are heartrending and after what seems like hours he is all cried out. It is at that moment while he’s watching tv that he sees the manhunt on for Ethan who allegedly killed his boyfriend. He escaped from prison after serving 3 years so far. Ethan explains to Gabriel that he is innocent and was framed for the murder.Gabriel chooses to believe Ethan , because he desperately needs to explore the connection he feels with this man and there is an obvious innocence surrounding Ethan. Before they can go even further Ethan is caught and sent back to prison. 

Gabriel is shaken up and decides to distance himself from the situation by going back home. He is met by an empty house and realizes that nothing else compares to the two days he had with Ethan.  Gabriel decides to become actively involved with Ethan’s case. Ethan is happy to hear from his lawyer about Gabriel’s involvement. For the first time since being sentenced, he starts hoping for the future.

Gabriel and the lawyer go through the evidence with a fine tooth comb. Eventually , all their hard work and dedication pays off when they find the real culprit. Not only do they find the suspect but they also find another victim chained in his basement. It takes no time at all to free Ethan when they’ve found the real killer. 

Gabriel is hiding close to his car on the day of Ethan’s release, not sure of the reception he will get.Ethan is overwhelmed with gratitude and as happy as Gabriel is, he is also worried that this is all they have between them. He decides to give Ethan some space to be with his family. Ethan feels abandoned and goes over to Gabriel’s hotel room to give him a piece of his mind.  Ethan is angry, but it doesn’t take long for their passion to combust. They experience the same feelings that they had started to explore at the cabin. They realize that  while the foundation of their relationship is a  bit unsteady, they can make it. They are both willing to make the effort and take it one step at a time and see where it can lead. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.