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. 

Zack’s Awakening by Jaclyn Osborn

Title : Zack’s Awakening       Word Count : 213 pgs
Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : Fear. Zack Greyson had never known the true meaning of the word until he suspected he might be gay—which wasn’t an option for the personal trainer and ex-football star. He’s tried to convince himself that his attraction to men is nothing more than just a mere curiosity, but when Jackson Parker walks into his life, that façade comes shattering down.

Jackson Parker is used to rejection because secrets never stay hidden forever. Left slightly broken and with no sense of belonging after his family’s rejection, he’s sought love in all the wrong places before. But meeting Zack, the hazel-eyed jock with killer dimples, Jackson steps out of his comfort zone and fights one last time for the happiness he knows he deserves.

Falling for a supposed straight guy was crazy, but for once, Jackson feels like his luck has changed, and he’s finally found someone who won’t throw him away. However, Zack struggles to discover who he is and who he wants to be. When his fear of coming out drives a wedge between him and Jackson, only one question remains: Which is stronger: love or fear?

My Review : Fear is an emotion that can often cause us to act irrationally. Zack understands this all too well. Zack has always been this all American popular jock that everyone loves and want to be around. Coming to terms with the fact that he is gay is very hard for him to do. He keeps on worrying about the perceptions of others. I found this very strange , since his own brother Gabriel is fabulously flamboyant in his gayness. Zack is very protective of his brother, and their father loves both of his sons unconditionally.
When we are first introduced to Jackson, I immediately feel the hurt that he feels from being rebuffed by Zack someone who he has become close to, but constantly pulls away when things get heavy. I guess what they say is true that no two ‘coming out’ experiences are alike. There were times when I felt like strangling Zack for being so concerned about others’ perceptions and hurting the people who mean the most to him. Jackson showed a lot of strength and patience and tried his best to give Zack the time that he needed to come to terms with being gay.
However, it took losing Jax and hurting his sweet brother Gabriel to finally get Zack’s head out of the sand. I really liked Zack in book 1, but I just found it hard to warm up to him as a main character in book 2. It was hard for me to reconcile the sweet caring brother to the very stubborn man who refused to step out of the closet proudly. Eventually , Zack and Jax got where they needed to be to forge a strong relationship. In my opinion, it took way too long for Zack to ‘man up’ and stop hurting sweet Jackson.
The main event for me was seeing the previous beloved characters Gabriel and Michael and watching how in love they still are. Gabriel is still as fabulous as ever and Michael is very much in love and pampering his princess. Their wedding was beautiful and caused me to get all weepy. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

Michael’s Awakening by Jaclyn Osborn

Title: Michael’s Awakening                    Word Count: 190 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:One moment…that’s all it takes for life as you once knew it to change irrevocably. For Michael Kingston, that moment was when he first laid eyes on Gabriel. In his life, Michael had only known darkness, leaving behind a broken shell of a man. Unspeakable memories of his childhood constantly plagued him, causing him to disconnect emotionally from the world. No one had ever shown him love; therefore, he believed that he was unworthy of it. And then everything changed.

Gabriel Greyson had always been different. Growing up in a small, Bible-thumping town, his preferences for men, makeup, and fashion made him an outcast. But, with the support and love of his family, he overcame obstacles that were thrown his way and rose above the intolerance. He danced to the beat of his own glammed-out drum and refused to believe that he was anything other than ultra-fabulous. Working as a beautician, he had a job he adored and felt that everything was perfect in his life. Everything except for true love.

When these two unlikely men meet, sparks fly. For the first time in Michael’s life, he feels like he can overcome the darkness inside him. Gabriel gives him hope and slowly brings him out of the shadows, showing him that even the darkest of souls can be redeemed. But there are secrets that Michael keeps locked away. Michael’s fear is that Gabriel will turn away from him when he discovers the truth. After all, who could ever love a beast?

My Review:  The juxtaposition of darkness versus light comes through clearly in our main characters. Gabriel is a flamboyant, vivacious, vibrant androgynous young man that exudes a light that can’t be suppressed or contained. He is someone who you can’t help but to love, because according to him he is so damn ‘fabulous’. It’s obvious that he is used to being sneered at and judged by the way he wears his sexuality proudly. He is unashamedly gay and he puts on a brave face daily to deal with the bigots of Texas. Gabriel loves all things fashion and takes pride in his appearance. He is very talented and has a passion for playing the Cello, something that he got from his deceased mother who loved him unconditionally. It is at one of his concerts where we are introduced to his counterpart Micheal. Michael’s very soul is wreathed in darkness. He has never known love and was abused constantly as a child by his own mother. He has scars , both physical and emotional. He is instantly attracted and drawn to Gabriel’s light, but he is afraid to overwhelm that purity with the darkness within him. They have a moment after Gabriel’s performance, where they have an intense staring match. Michael brushes off his attraction and decide to leave the angelic Gabriel alone.

Micheal is definitely surprised at his reaction to Gabriel when they meet again for the second time at a nightclub. He doesn’t understand the possessiveness he feels when another man tries to pick up Gabriel. He dominantly steps in and Gabriel is shocked and intrigued to see the handsome intense stranger who he saw briefly at his concert. Gabriel is certainly attracted to Michael and there is something vulnerable about this strong man that calls to him.

Thet both get along famously and it doesn’t take Michael long to stop fighting his developing feelings for his ‘princess’ Gabriel. Gabriel is amazed that this macho self- assured attorney accepts him in all his flamboyant girliness. Michael sees something special in  Gabriel that makes him want to step into the light. They quickly become close when Michael reveals the horrendous abusive childhood that he had to endure at his mother’s hands. Gabriel was halfway in love with Michael from their very first date and Michael’s openness pushes him  headlong into full blown love.

Michael pampers and spoils Gabriel at every opportunity and Gabriel is so happy that he is accepted so wholheartedly. They are compatible in every which way. Michael is definitely the knight in shining armour to Gabriel’s ‘princess’. It soon becomes clear to Gabriel’s family and friends that he has found the perfect protector and love of his life . They welcome Michael with open arms. Gabriel is truly a character and I can’t  express how much I  adored him in all his prissy fabulous glory.  However, not everyone is so accepting of Gabriel. A homophobic zealot decides to target Gabriel and succeded in hurting him. Michael got there in time to save his ‘princess’. And yes, they lived happily ever after with Michael proposing with a beautiful girly princess cut diamond for Gabriel. This was an exhilarating fun read with just the right amount of angst. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from this author. I give this my rating of 5- bring out the vibrators .