Finn: A Bully Novella 2 by Morgan Campbell

Title: Finn: A Bully Novella             Word Count: 157pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:It all started with a doll…

All I wanted was to be a kid,

to have fun with my friends and make mistakes.

But little did I know that my father had other plans.

A daily life lesson constantly spat in my face.
Every day, for years, I’ve been told that I’m wrong.

That I’m a mistake.

That I’m a sinner.

That no matter what, I’m an abomination.

A reminder that’s been drilled into my head;

beaten into my body and soul;

like a punch to the gut;

shoved in my face,

that what I am is a betrayal to my family.

Simply for being me. Simply for being gay.
Now, all I want is to be free from this nightmare that I’m trapped in.

To find the one that got away.

The one with the hazel eyes…

All I want is to find him

so he can save me from myself.

**This is not a standalone and is book two of the Bully Series. This book may contain certain triggers**
My Review: Here we have the other side of the story. We get to see the same journey of the characters through Finn’s eyes. For me, I wouldn’t say it was total redemption for Finn. The truth of the matter is that Finn is definitely a flawed character and you just have to accept him despite his shortcomings and foibles. Finn’s journey starts when he is a five year old boy, hero 

 worshipping his father. He is soon disillusioned with his perfect family life,when his father beats the hell out of him for asking for a doll for his birthday. 

The horrors of his childhood continued everyday until he was 15. Finn and his mother was beaten on numerous occasions especially when his father believed that he wasn’t being manly enough and showing gay tendencies. Finn obliterated his true self to the point where he was so deep in the closet and constantly lived in fear of being exposed. He hurt and bullied his high school crush Grayson so deeply that he pushed him to self harm. When Grayson disappeared from school, Finn feels guilty but pushes him to the back of his mind and continued on with his selfish teenage life.

Finn’s armour cracks a little bit when he gets to college and meets his confident gay roommate. He finds a bit of acceptance with Gunnar who reveals to him the joys of exploration through sex toys. Finn feels very liberated when he tries an anal plug and dildo Gunnar gifted him for the first time. Finn becomes more self aware and gains a new understanding of his sexuality. He relishes the idea of being a ‘bottom’ and wants to embrace it fully. These explorations go no further when Gunnar graduates and leaves him alone. Finn falls back into the destructive cycle of lying and pretending. He hooks up with Allison who soon turns into his wife, because of an unplanned pregnancy. He tries to suppress that part of himself still undeveloped and unexplored, but this facade can’t be sustained for very long under the pressures of real life.

Finn becomes very unhappy in his marriage and starts cheating on his wife with a man. For the first time in his life , he feels free to be who he was meant to be.After his first time with Gary, he makes a vow to stay away but he is reeled in by the forbidden feelings he was taught was wrong. He gets carried away by the newfound feelings he has for his beau. Finn is soon caught red handed with his pants down. There are some tears, but Allison has reconciled that her marriage is over. However, she cautions Finn to be totally honest the next time around and stop hiding. So far , Finn is definitely not painted in a great light. His resume consists of bullying, cheating and an all around self centered bastard.

The next chapter of his life begins with him finally  standing up and accepting who he is , a gay man. He is reunited with Grayson, his high school crush. It is a rough rocky road and they both have to find the strength to forgive each other for all the bad blood between  them. Finn especially will have to find the strength to forgive himself for all the pain he’s inflicted on his loved ones. He knows that even though Gray has forgiven him and proposed, he needs to get Gray’s families’ blessings.Finn bares his soul to them and at the end they have no doubt of his love and devotion for Grayson. There is definitely a fairytale ending with them getting married and two years down  the road still blissfully happy and welcoming their  baby girl. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, it was nice to gain a different perspective of their journey together.

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.