The hardest battle is the fight to be yourself....
Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy--a cocky sports fan capable of drinking more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse's been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He's a Kensington boy--a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.
Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can't fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should've ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography--documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he's working to be happy with who he is.
When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys' community center sports leagues, Jesse's self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there's one barrier Jesse can't find the strength to break through--coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can't stay away.
Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.
Reader Advisory: Out of the Shade is a standalone novel with an HEA that carries the following warnings--alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting
There are a lot of reasons why...
I shouldn't have liked this one and I do mean a lot. So let's get on with this and start a list...
first off there's the whole neanderthal caveman mentality, copious amounts of alcohol consumption, there's a group of men that in some ways don't seem to have really made it past their high school or college days...yeah, let's be generous and say college days...so, in truth I could probably go through the first part of this book and by part I mean about 30 probably 40% and pick out all kinds of details that made me crazy, annoyed the hell out of me or at the very least had me using some very unladylike language. So to those who dnf'd before the halfway point, in all honestly I get it I really do and another time I very probably would have done the same.
But right now in this moment for me it turned out it was a case of the right time for the right story and the second half of this book was the right story, for me. It was the story that I was looking to read.
In the first part of this story we meet Jesse Solomona and to be honest the only thing I was definite about during the first part of the story was I did not like Jesse. He was someone with addiction issues...sorry, I don't care what Jesse wants to tell himself. He's an alcoholic add in some definite anger issues...the man was at times abusive towards his friends..seriously I did not like Jesse and if I had done a dnf on this one he would have been the biggest reason.
Then we have Chuck Dunn a tattooed and pierced sports photographer who's walked away from a very successful career and while he doesn't advertise it, he also doesn't hide in the closet.
We also meet the Kensington Boys and their wives. These are Jesse's friends. He's grown up with these men and they play league sports together they go drinking together, celebrate holidays and special events together, go drinking together, go on vacation together, go drinking together...are you seeing a pattern here? I have to say I'm not really sure how many Kensington Boys there are but this group is beyond important to Jesse...they're so important to Jesse that being who he thinks they want him to be is far more important to him than being who he wants to be.
While I wasn't a fan of Jesse this was not the case with Chuck. I liked Chuck and honestly I was definitely not a fan of Chuck with Jesse because, for me, Jesse just did not deserve someone like Chuck...nope, not even a little bit.
So here I am not quite halfway through the story and honestly leaning towards moving on but there's this little voice that whispers in my ear and says..."But what if you're suppose to read this one...what if it's the last half of the book that's important...that's the story you're looking for...what if you're missing out but not finishing this." and I have to admit that voice whispers in my ear quite often and most of the time I do listen to it...every once in a while I tell it to shut up and go away but somewhere in the clusterf*ck that was the beginning of this book there were a few little things that resonated with me and made me want to know a bit more...like Jesse's sister and some of the Kensington Boys and their wives were interesting and yeah, I admit it Jesse and Chuck just weren't quite working for me so I wanted to see how this could ever possibly work.
I picked through what worked and what didn't and weighed the pros and cons of it and at the end of it all I thought "What the hell, I've come this far. Why stop now?" so I didn't and here's what I found...
For me the second half of this book is about what happens when you hit rock bottom and realize that you've basically destroyed your life and lost what matters the most. It's about second chances and what it takes to deserve them and me, I love second chances.
For everything that drove me crazy about the first half of this book there was equally as much that made me so glad that I stuck with it in the second half of the story. For me the last half of this book is about change, it's about life and it's about love. Jesse is a man who needs to change to get the future that he wants instead of the one that's being created by his destructive behavior, Chuck needs to let go of his past if he's going to have a chance with the man that he's falling in love with and even with some of the secondary characters there's growth and change...maybe not as dramatic or as obvious as that of Jesse or even Chuck but it's the small things the subtle things that often happen in day to day life...somethings may only be a blip on the radar while other things can mean so much more than we realize at the moment...but still it's change and change is life.
I've always said that if we don't go through the bad times, how can we truly appreciate and know how special the good times are and I feel like that's what happened here the beginning of this story is Jesse's bad times and in order for the reader to truly appreciate the good times and what it took for Jesse to get to them we needed to go through the bad times with him.
*************************An ARC of "Out of the Shade" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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