Tuesday, April 16, 2019

ARC Review: Escaping Camp Roosevelt by Bryan T. Clark

Escaping Camp Roosevelt
“He’s a bad boy—cocky and damaged. So, why can’t I stop thinking about him?" 

Broken Dreams 
Sociable and unselfish, eighteen-year-old Tucker Graves loves two things—his darling little sister and the thrill of playing baseball. He never dreamed that he’d be homeless, but after a series of misfortunes, his life is nothing like he could have possibly imagined. Shocked and shattered, Tucker, his mother, and his baby sister now must brave the dangers of a dilapidated homeless encampment called Camp Roosevelt. 

A Wounded Heart 
Homeless since the age of fourteen, Dancer has mastered the tricks of living on the streets as a sex worker. The quiet, reclusive, and calculating ways of this twenty-year-old, green-eyed Adonis help him to survive. He hides his emotional scars from the world by interacting only with his clients, whose occasional bizarre requests he reluctantly fulfills. Dancer’s past has taught him to trust no one. 

A Second Chance 
When Tucker and Dancer come face to face on a stormy night, having been thrown together under the same roof, Tucker brings out a feeling in Dancer that he didn’t know still existed in him—desire. Neither man can deny the attraction he feels for the other. But some scars run deep, causing both Tucker and Dancer to question whether falling in love is even possible, especially when survival is on the line.

Todd's rating:

What with the homelessness, prostitution, and drug abuse, this book felt very much like a New Adult story from Garrett Leigh -- except not quite.

We first met 18 y.o. Tucker, brand new to living on the streets, as his mother's meth habit took what little they'd ever had from them, forcing them to seek refuge in a tent city in a suburb of Chicago.

20 y.o. Dancer, however, had been living on the streets since running away from parental sexual abuse at age 14, earning his living by having sex with men for money, while hardening his heart against everyone and everything.

Dancer came across as a bit of a cold-hearted bitch, but I immediately liked both Dancer and Tucker, even if they didn't seem to care for one another very much upon their first interactions.

In addition to keeping himself and his addict mother alive, Tucker's main objective was to keep his 6 y.o. sister, Mattie, safe, which had been mostly his job since she'd been born.

I loved seeing Tucker work his way past Dancer's hard-edged, impenetrable defenses. No matter how much Dancer tried, though, there was just something about Tucker that spoke to his loneliness and screamed, "Let me in!"

One of my favorite aspects of this story was that, in spite of the fact that Dancer kept himself alive by having sex with strangers for cash, his relationship with Tucker, especially to begin with, had very little to do with the actual carnal side of things. Dancer had never enjoyed sex, it was a means to an end, and Tucker never pushed.

What did make me a bit uncomfortable, though only a little, was how Dancer had explicitly told Tucker that he didn't like being touched, yet Tucker *did* continue to press on that front, in a non-sexual, but caring way. Still, it was something that Dancer didn't like, so that pushing felt a bit aggressive.

Some might categorize this book as instal-love, as all of the initial events happened in only a few short weeks; however, with dire circumstances, from the harsh weather to staying feed, constantly swirling around the guys, it somehow didn't *feel* overly insta-love, which I appreciated.

I love when stories completely pull me in, making me feel as if I'm inside of the story, standing a hair's-breath away from the MC's, but here, there was something about the writing style, no matter how into the story that I got, which left me feeling as if I was standing a good distance away from the action, watching from the outside.

I can't explain it better than that, I wish I could, but I just didn't feel as though I was part of the story, like amazing stories almost always tend to make me feel. Like you're breathing the same air as the MC's.

Due to that feeling of "apartness" (wow, I wasn't 1,000% positive that was an actual word, but it is, so yay me!), I'd rate this emotional, moderately-angsty story at around 3.75 stars.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.


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