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.

Going the Distance by John Goode

Title :  Going the Distance                 Word Count : 81,982

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance / Young Adult

Blurb : Looking like the perfect all-American boy—tall, handsome, and athletic—makes it easy for Danny Monroe to blend in with the in-crowd of a new high school. It’s a trick he picked up moving with his father from one Marine base to the next. When you aren’t going to be around long, it’s better to give people what they want. And what they want are his quick hands and fast feet on the basketball court.

On court, he can be himself and ignore certain strange developing urges. Everyone knows you can’t like boys and be a jock, but for Danny his growing attraction is becoming overwhelming. At the thought of losing the only thing that matters, Danny starts to panic and realizes he has a choice to make: happiness or basketball.

My Review :  It must be extremely  hard to try to outrun yourself,  it’s virtually impossible. Army brat  Danny  has first hand experience of this, since the first time he was caught fooling around with his friend at a sleepover and the friend hung him out to dry. His father was exceptionally dissapointed  in him and threatened to send him away. Danny promised his dad that it would  never happen again and suppressed any desires or questions  he ever had about his sexuality.  This holds true until he meets Cody Franks, one of the guys on his basketball team,  an all around  good  guy. Cody and Danny forms a bond where they become the best of friends,  but there is a doorway that is opened in their relationship  that could lead to some thought provoking questions. After a team member sees them kissing on the court one night, Danny pushes Cody away, shuts him out and stops being friends with him. Danny didn’t even get to say goodbye or apologize  when he heard that Cody was moving away.

 Danny is devastated but he does nothing more than push his true self further away.The more you deny your true self is the more you lose the most important  part of yourself. Danny decides the best way to lose himself is to do it through something that he loves and is good at, basketball. This works for all of two minutes, until he starts changing into an unrecognizable  bitter team captain who has isolated and backed himself into a very  far corner. 

After getting dressed down by his coach after a lost game due to his inflated ego, Danny gets into a horrible  car accident. After having an out of body near death experience,  Danny sees himself for what he truly is. It takes his accident for him to finally face up to the truth, that he just might be gay. He has to come to realize  that  he is lucky to be alive and he  needs to stop using other people as a way to hide and deny his sexuality. He faces a constant  battle with his sexuality. His friend  Nate helps him to cope after his accident. Nate accepts that his friend is possibly gay, but Danny refuses to acknowledge  the truth of his desires.

This novel truly resonates with me because it touches on the many facets of life. This is a true coming of age story that talks about love, heartbreak, disappointments, faith, perseverance and throughout  it all fear. Danny gets a lot of things wrong along the way, but that just makes him a teenager and human. It takes a lot of soul searching  and Cody reappearing for Danny to gain forgiveness for his harsh treatment . He has to learn to love himself first and foremost  before he can find love. In my estimation  this novel was definitely a journey. It shows the struggles that many gay or questioning athletes feel that they need to go through to prove themselves to the world. Danny’s journey leaves us on a cliffhanger  with many unanswered questions. I give this my ratings of 3- it was ok, give it a try.  I was left unfulfilled and yearning to  see where Danny would end up.  

Favorite Quotes : 1. “If we are servants of God, and I mean true servants and not just in name, then we have an obligation to love everyone in the name of the Lord. Not just the people we agree with and not just the things we can understand, but everything. Saint Augustine said it best when he wrote ‘Cum dilectione huminum et odio vitiorum.’ It translates as ‘With love for mankind and hatred of sins,’ but nowadays we just say love the sinner, but hate the sin. And though it is true we must love the sinner, I think Augustine got it right the first time. With love for mankind. That is the point, for all of mankind. Not the white folks or the straight ones or the nice ones, for all mankind. ( If we all lived our life by these dictates, the world  would be a  far better place.)

2. You think the answer is hating them? You’re wrong, dead wrong. And I assure you, if you think the fact you are here, dressed up on a Sunday, is a golden ticket to heaven, it isn’t. You want to quote Corinthians and tell me that the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, or men who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God, then be sure to finish the quote with thieves, greedy people, drunks, revilers, and swindlers too. You think having money and wanting more is good? Not according to that quote. You want to think getting the best out of a deal is good, you’re better off finding another passage to defend it.” (People are always quick to throw stones in a glass house, rather than see the sins and wrongs that they  have committed. )

Omorphi by C. Kennedy

Title : Omorphi                                 Word Count :189,675

Genre : Young Adult / Gay Romance

Blurb : High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy’s boyfriend would entail.

Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s teammates turns enemy, and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy’s combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together.

My Review: From the very beginning where we are introduced to Christy, we see that he is very special.  Christy is androgynous , he’s very tiny and looks very pretty and he doesn’t speak due to a trauma that he has sustained to his neck. He has had to endure sexual abuse since he was a child. His father kept him locked away where he was repeatedly abused and passed around to the father’s business partners. They were able to do whatever they wanted to Christy. Christy is incredibly scarred both emotionally and physically and like most victims he sees himself as a dirty, broken human being.Christy’s survival speaks to resiliency.

Michael knows what he likes, he has never had a boyfriend but he has a huge crush on Christy. He has no clue the extent of  the emotional baggage he is getting when he approaches Christy. Once he gets to know Christy, he realizes how much repair and rejuvenation he will have to do to Christy’s self esteem. Their relationship is definitely not easy, it is conflicted and convoluted with secrets of Christy’s past. He finds it hard to open up to Michael about all the atrocities that has been done to him. Michael tries hard to pull Christy out of his shell and protect him from all the demons that are chasing him figuratively and physically. 

This book was over 500 pgs long and I really think that it could have been reduced by taking out some of the unnecessary drama. After awhile I found that the drama became very unrealistic for what a high school student would normally have to endure. It was a little off-putting for me. To give an example, one of the bad guys shoots Michael and by the next day Michael is back at school to protect Christy. I think these scenes were overly dramatized and was just far beyond the capacity of what is expected of a typical 18yr old. That being said, as much as I wanted to put down the book, I couldn’t because the storyline was riveting and I couldn’t wait to see how everything turned out for this couple.

The sex between these two main characters was really good. Michael really allowed Christy to truly be himself by wearing all the frilly girly underwear that he wanted. This really turned Michael on and was Christy’s way of feeling pretty. He believed that the feminine underwear and makeup really transformed him into a beautiful person,  someone who wasn’t tainted by all the abuse.

Michael and Christy finally got their happily ever after amidst all the craziness. I really appreciated this story after reading the author’s note at the end. It says that the abuse suffered by Christy in this story is based on real events. All I can say is how utterly horrifying it must be for someone to have these life experiences.  My heart truly goes out to everyone who has ever suffered through abuse especially children. I give this my ratings of 4 – not only because the chemistry between Michael and Christy was super hot. My ratings are for all the Christys in the world who have endured, survived and conquered their demons and heartfelt tears for those who didn’t make it through. 

For a Price by Hallie Burton

Title : For a Price                            Word Count : 51,367

Genre : Young Adult / Gay Romance

Blurb : At seventeen, Charles “Trey” Maddox Taft III has had better years. His father ran off with a younger woman, and with no alimony or child support, his family has to move from affluent Coconut Grove to a rough neighborhood near Miami’s Little Havana. It’s a completely different world, but Trey is determined to make the best of a bad situation, if only no one finds out he’s gay.

On Trey’s first day in his new territory, he’s saved from being run over by local bad boy Bobby Cruz. Bobby is an unabashedly gay, sexually active high school senior who’s tired of one-night stands. After meeting preppie Trey, Bobby decides to try something new. Things go well at first, but being in a relationship is tricky and might take more work than either wants to do.

My Review :  This really had a great story line.  It solidified in my mind why I like opposites attract tropes. Bobby is a tough guy from the Barrio and Trey was the nerdy former rich kid. They really complemented each other and it was fun to watch their young love blossom.  Trey realizes he is attracted to Bobby from the moment he laid eyes on him. Bobby teases Trey mercilessly about his preppy clothes. Throughout all of this a precious undeniable friendship is fostered between the two. After giving Trey a makeover,  Trey kisses Bobby and they start to explore their passions  for each other. Their explorations had the right amount of steamy for a coming of age story.

At the end of summer when Bobby’s friends come back from vacation,  Trey sees that he might have some competition for Bobby’s affection from Hazy , Bobby’s best friend. After some posturing and mistakes Hazy and Trey realize that they can be friends for Bobby’s sake and Bobby and Trey realize how special it is to have their kind of connection.    

Bobby and his friends become a part of Trey’s family. This shows that family is not only by blood and DNA. Family can be about the people who we open our hearts to and  who in turn open up and let us in their lives and take precious care to mold that love. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, give it a try.

Wet Paint by Will Parkinson

Title : Wet Paint     Word Count :70,995           Genre : Young Adult / Gay Romance

Blurb: Although Addy’s heart and body bear the scars from his life before he was adopted by the Deans, he’s ached for something he thought he would never find. Until he met Benny. He isn’t sure how anyone can care for someone as broken as he is, even though he wants it desperately.

High school senior Benny Peters has his whole life planned out for him, until a chaste kiss at summer camp opens a new world of possibilities. Determined to erase Addy’s insecurities, Benny works to take away his boyfriend’s pain and replace it with love.

When Addy’s past intrudes on their future, it’s going to take everything Benny can muster to show that no matter what–or who–they face, they belong together.

My Review : My heart broke for Addy, he was such a sweet tortured soul. Addy is adopted and he is slowly learning to open up to these wonderful giving parents, the Deans. He has been put through the wringer and he is trying to overcome the trauma he has sustained after years of abuse. His biological father had abused him emotionally, physically and sexually from the age of six. Addy is a strong sixteen year old who is trying to put his life together bit by bit. He goes to Camp Care where he undergoes some intensive healing through the use of art. Best friends Taylor and Benny gives him the tools to express himself and allows him to see what true friendship means. He opens up even more to Benny on the one on one talks that they have. Addy feels safe with Benny even though Benny is such a big guy. He kisses Benny and it confuses Benny because he is straight, but there is just something about Addy he can’t resist.  He feels the need to cherish and protect Addy and show him what pure love is. 

Benny was the epitome of a great man. He was almost saint-like. Benny truly was the kindest person there was who looked out for his friends and others.  He hated watching the people he loved being bullied, so he was always there to protect them. Even though it was his first time with a guy, he took to it like a fish to water. He treated Addy like gold and made him feel special in a way that nobody else had before. Addy was resilient and he found his strength through Benny’s love. This was a sweet romantic story, not a lot of sex scenes but powerful nonetheless.  I give this one my ratings of 4 – not because it was steamy, but because the characters were resilient and learnt from each other what true friendship and loving is all about.

Nail Polish and Feathers by Jo Ramsey

Title : Nail Polish and Feathers     Word Count :74,223      Genre : Young Adult/ Gay

Blurb : Sixteen-year-old Evan Granger has no problems with being gay. Despite his mother’s objections, he wears nail polish and makeup to school and pursues his goal of becoming a professional drag queen.

TV drag star Taffy Sweet gives encouragement and Evan’s cousin Holly tries to protect him, but school bullies abuse him so badly because of his sexuality and the girly way he dresses that he ends up at the hospital emergency room. After that, even his new crush, a closeted football jock named Moe Garcia, is unhappy about Evan’s choice to live his life openly gay. But even in girly clothes and nail polish, Evan is a force to be reckoned with, and he soon shows the bullies—and everyone else—that beating a drag queen up does not mean the queen is beaten down.

My Review : I must say I really ran the gamut of emotions reading this book. Evan is a sixteen year old that is gay and likes to wear some feminine apparel and nail polish. Needless to say he gets picked on constantly by some of the members of the football team. They take it a step further after one of their own gets detention for shoving Evan at school. They actually corner Evan on a crowded street and beat him to a bloody pulp.

It was really disconcerting and it made me really furious to see how most of the adults in this book dealt with the bullying Evan was faced with. From his mother right to the faculty of the school, it was a recurring theme where they told Evan that if he didn’t dress so girly he wouldn’t be picked on all the time. To me, this is the same as when a woman gets raped and the focus is on her clothes and how she was behaving prior to the incident. No one deserves to be abused,no matter how they look or what they wear.  Whenever there is bullying or a crime, we tend to blame the victim and I think this is one of the problems we need to fix  in our society. Let’s lay the blame at the feet of the perpetrators and stop blaming the victims.

 Everyone should be free to love who they want to love. I find that anti-bullying policies are not always enforced in schools properly by the  administration and it always takes someone getting seriously hurt before something is done. It’s a serious problem that our kids are faced with in our schools which should be safe zones but are not. STOP the BULLYING,  STOP the HATE.

 There was also some romance between Evan and the running back of the football team Moe Garcia. Moe was very different from all the other players, he actually stood up for Evan against the whole school.  Moe was ok with them having a relationship behind closed doors, he just wasn’t ready to come out of the closet.  Moe really respected Evan and admired him for being brave and withstanding all the shit that came his way. I really admired Evan for being true to himself and not trying to let anyone change him. I give this my ratings of 3 – it was ok, give it a try.