A poignant blend of romance and young adult drama, the novel is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking…
Daniels tackles the significant theme of identity with a serious message of LGBTQ and bullying issues in his deeply poignant, candid coming-of-age gay romance, which tells the story of a young man struggling with love, life, and sexuality. As a teen, Elliott Denison has struggled with his sexual identity. Growing up in a religious household, with over-protective, extremely strict parents is difficult. But things are worse in the school. Reserved and gentle by nature, Elliott, more than often, finds himself becoming the target of bullies. The only bright spot for Elliott is his friendship with Paul, who would go to any length to protect the former. Estranged from his parents, Elliott enters adulthood. His life changes soon after he meets the handsome, endearing Chase Harrison, and things begin to look up. But an anonymous hater has other plans. Daniels’s compassionate consideration of issues of LGBTQ bullying and harassment is both intuitive and insightful as he depicts the plight of his protagonist as a child and teenager fraught with his parents’ strict parenting while struggling with issues of self-worth, low esteem, and sexual identity. The adept combination of convincing characters, sharp psychological insights, and well-woven LGBTQ elements makes for a memorable experience. However, Daniels’s biggest strength is portraying his characters’ struggles with their relentless insecurities and inner demons. He focuses on the raw feelings of his characters, who remain broken amid their ongoing struggles. In a soft, searing voice, he examines the intricacies of human nature, love, relationships, duty, responsibility, and mortality through the eyes of his main characters. Elliott shines as the protagonist. His vulnerability, brokenness, and gentle nature make him heartbreakingly real and relatable. Chase is a thoroughly developed character, charming, candid, and likable. Paul is equally compelling. Daniels’s writing is assured, dialogue sharp, and the novel’s pace measured and leisurely. Intelligent, crisp prose pulls the reader deep into the intriguing storyline. Though bullying and teenage LGBTQ issues make up the major portion of the storyline, this is a story with psychological meat, what it means to love truly and selflessly, and about being true to one’s own self. This expert exploration of homosexuality, enduring friendship, family ties, love, guilt, regret, faith, forgiveness, and revenge will delight the lovers of gay romance.
By Kristian Daniels
Pub date April 5, 2021
Price $16.99 (USD) Paperback, $30.99 Hardcover, $3.08 Kindle edition