Fifteen years ago Elijah Langley’s world came to an abrupt halt with the death of his high school boyfriend. He keeps his past—and his sexual orientation—hidden until he attends a fundraiser for The Center for HOPE, an LGBT youth center, where he meets Adam Lancaster, HOPE’s infuriatingly stubborn and sexy founder.
A survivor of a turbulent childhood, Adam understands better than most the challenges his youth face. He’s drawn to Elijah’s baby blues and devilish smile but refuses to compromise his values and climb back into the closet for anyone—not even the man showering time and money on HOPE. Months of constant flirting wear down Adam’s resolve until he surrenders to his desires, but Elijah can’t shake his demons.
When a youth from the center is brutally assaulted, Elijah must find a way to confront the fears and memories that are starting to ruin his life, so he can stand strong for those he loves.
When Elijah was 17 years old, something terrible happened, something for which he blames himself to this day, and he lost Brian, his best friend/boyfriend.
Many years later, Elijah is deeply in the closet, and has closed himself off to the prospect of ever finding love again. He has a difficult relationship with his parents, all born from that tragic loss. He came across as lonely, even if he has a woman hanging off his arm for whatever social event he's attending, and Sunday dinner with his parents, where the only talk allowed is either about the family business (where Elijah is the CEO) or his mother's desire to see him settling down with a nice girl.
I loved him immediately. I cried for him, for his pain and his grief, none of which he allowed himself to express and deal with, and for the empty life he led.
Then Elijah comes across a pamphlet for a local LGBT Youth center (HOPE), where he meets Adam, who runs the center.
Adam is out and proud, though he also has demons of the past, but he's not willing to go back into the closet for anyone - not even the gorgeous man who starts supporting the center with money, and hanging out.
There is much UST for a while, and the author did a great job with writing those emotions. The interactions between Adam and Elijah were well done, even if Adam wasn't always very nice to Elijah, understandably so due to his history.
When an almost-tragedy serves as a catalyst for a long-overdue discussion with his parents, I was spellbound and on the edge of my seat. And somewhat surprised at the reaction of Elijah's parents, when the truth comes out, and the healing can finally begin.
And Elijah, realizing maybe for the first time that there might just be redemption for him after all, comes clean to both Adam and Kollin. He makes promises he intends to keep, he can for the first time in many, many years see the light at the end of the tunnel and take a deep breath.
I cried like a baby. So there's that.
Elijah does an amazing thing for Kollin. It's... well, you'll see.
There's some almost drama with Adam's ex, but that's quickly squashed, thank goodness, and I really appreciated that the author didn't drag out that particular misunderstanding, when there were plenty of others in this book. I guess I can't fault her for doing it this way though, as it gets Adam to pull his head from his behind and get with the program.
In some instances, the book got a little preachy, especially when it came to Adam talk about the center. There are some really good supporting characters, though, and I would be remiss to not mention Kollin, a young gay teenager with a difficult home life who spends much time at the center. His character was wonderfully done, and I loved the relationship that develops between him and Eli, who possibly sees Kollin as a way to do for him what he wasn't able to do for Brian.
I didn't care for Adam as much as I cared for Eli, and that's primarily due to Adam's treatment of him. He was quick to judge, and a little pushy, and I hated that Adam didn't see Eli for who he was.
I might be a bit biased toward Eli. Sue me. Even if he still had some serious lessons to learn.
And I adored Kollin. His characterization was wonderfully done.
My first book by this author, and her debut novel, built around a topic that needs far more exposure - LGBTQ youth, and how badly many of these children are treated by their own families, the people who are supposed to love them and protect them, no matter what.
And while we don't get the grand HEA, we do get a lovely HFN, with the promise of more to come.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **
Get the book:
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, happy reading!
Buylink is provided as a courtesy and does not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with this book, author, or bookseller listed.