The Preacher's Son
Jason Banning is a wreck. His leg’s been blown to hell in Afghanistan, his boyfriend just left him and took the dog, and now he’s back in his hometown of Pinehurst, Washington, a place that holds nothing but wretched memories…and Nathan Tull. Nathan Tull, whose life Jason ruined. Nathan Tull, who will never believe Jason did what he did for a greater good. Nathan Tull, whose reverend father runs a gay conversion therapy camp that Jason once sought to bring down—at any cost.Nathan Tull is trying to live a quiet life. Four years ago, when Nate was a prospective student visiting UW Tacoma, his world collapsed when senior Jason Bannon slept with him, filmed it, and put the footage online. A painful public outing and a crisis of faith later, Nate has finally begun to heal. Cured of the “phantoms” that plagued him for years, he now has a girlfriend, a counselor job at his dad’s camp, and the constant, loving support of his father.But when he learns Jason is back in town, his carefully constructed identity begins to crumble. As desperate to reconcile his love for God with his attraction to men as Jason is to make sense of the damage he’s done, Nate finds himself walking a dangerous line. On one side lies the righteous life he committed himself to in the wake of his public humiliation. On the other is the sin he committed with Jason Banning, and the phantoms that won’t let him be. But is there a path that can bridge those two worlds—where his faith and his identity as a gay man aren’t mutually exclusive?And can he walk that path with the man who betrayed him?

The Preacher's Son Details

TitleThe Preacher's Son
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 11th, 2018
PublisherLisa Henry and J.A Rock
ISBN-139781983483790
Rating
GenreRomance, M M Romance, Contemporary, Religion

The Preacher's Son Review

  • Lisa Henry
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t respond to readers’ reviews, even those addressed to me, because I believe those reviews are a reader’s space. However if you have anything to ask about The Preacher’s Son, then I’m happy for you to do that here in my review space. There does seem to be some misconception about how Nate’s father is portrayed in the book. Yes, he thinks he’s doing the right thing by Nate and the kids at the camp. And no, he absolutely isn’t. Conversion therapy is reprehensible and harmful, and should be b I don’t respond to readers’ reviews, even those addressed to me, because I believe those reviews are a reader’s space. However if you have anything to ask about The Preacher’s Son, then I’m happy for you to do that here in my review space. There does seem to be some misconception about how Nate’s father is portrayed in the book. Yes, he thinks he’s doing the right thing by Nate and the kids at the camp. And no, he absolutely isn’t. Conversion therapy is reprehensible and harmful, and should be banned, and I don’t think there is any content in the book that would give any reader the impression otherwise. Likewise, what Jason does to Nate in outing him is cruel and short-sighted, and this is something that all the characters struggle to address throughout the story--and will continue to struggle to address beyond that. This isn’t a story where romance is a fix-it for trauma. As my co-writer JA says, “Lisa and I were fully aware that some readers would have concerns about those issues, and that the book could be polarizing. We did everything we could within the book to make the characters' struggles as realistic as possible, and to make sure it was not a romanticization or endorsement of bullying, but an honest look at how people struggle with the mistakes they make and the damage they do to one another. It's not a story that asks the reader, or even the other characters in the book to forgive Jason for what he does to Nate. It's a story about two individuals striving to make peace with themselves and each other. As a queer person, I try always to write from a truthful place, without fetishizing my pain or anyone else's. We understand readers' concerns and hope they'll give the book a chance. We also understand it's potentially divisive, and not for everyone.”
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    The blurb really peaked my interest. I am not a big fan of religious reads to be honest, but that was not what caught my attention. When I read what Jason actually did to Nate....I really wanted to know how that would turn out...I am a very big fan of groveling, and I was hoping to get some here....because man did Jason ruin Nate's life !!Jason and Nate meet when they are younger. Both are gay, but Nate is deeply in the closet, and one of the reasons for that, is his family. Nate's dad runs a co The blurb really peaked my interest. I am not a big fan of religious reads to be honest, but that was not what caught my attention. When I read what Jason actually did to Nate....I really wanted to know how that would turn out...I am a very big fan of groveling, and I was hoping to get some here....because man did Jason ruin Nate's life !!Jason and Nate meet when they are younger. Both are gay, but Nate is deeply in the closet, and one of the reasons for that, is his family. Nate's dad runs a conversion camp, which is supposed to turn the gay into straightJason knows all about Nate's dad and the conversion camp, and he thinks he might be able to shut this camp down, and help all the gay people affected by this camp...including Nate.Problem is.....he thinks the best way to shut this camp down is by exposing Nate publically. Which he does....in a very cruel, and in my opinion unforgiveable, way. He tapes the two of them having sex, it's Nate's first time by the way, and putting it online...Fast forward some years and Jason is on his way back to his hometown after being injured in Afghanistan. Jason get's to witness just how much his video still hurts Nate years later. How does one make up for something like this..... How does he make things right again....Apparently Nate is the better man, cause I would have never forgiven Jason for his evil stupidity !! I hold a mean grudge and even though I know Jason was sorry in the end.... it wasn't enough for me. I wanted him to pay for what he did....and in my opinion, he didn't pay enough (and no.. his injuries had nothing to do with all of this).This is a story about forgiveness.....and I guess I am not really as forgiving as I thought :PNow don't get me wrong, I did enjoy reading this one, it just also frustrated me. It hard to root for a couple, when one of them is making your blood boil :P  My reviews are posted on DirtyBooksObsession
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  • Nathan Burgoine
    January 1, 1970
    Conversion therapy is hateful, violent, and kills queer people; people involved in it cannot be allies or claim to love queer people, and framing those who support conversion therapy as merely misguided or "loving" diminishes the evils suffered in reality.Revenge porn is abhorrent and a violation and an assault; no one has to forgive someone who violates and assaults them, and placing those who assault others as romantic leads, especially with the person they assault, is a dismissive choice at b Conversion therapy is hateful, violent, and kills queer people; people involved in it cannot be allies or claim to love queer people, and framing those who support conversion therapy as merely misguided or "loving" diminishes the evils suffered in reality.Revenge porn is abhorrent and a violation and an assault; no one has to forgive someone who violates and assaults them, and placing those who assault others as romantic leads, especially with the person they assault, is a dismissive choice at best.It’s unfortunate that has to be critical feedback.Full thoughts on this over at my blog.
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  • River
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI find that making a review for this book is a bit hard, I find a lot of things about the book very interesting but at the same time it's very hard to get past Jason's actions. In the end, I'm left wondering what were the authors thinking, not in a bad way, just curious. If you read the blurb then you know what happened between Nathan and Jason. As a person I hate Jason's actions, there's no way around it, it was awful and I would say even unforgivable. As a reader, it was fascinating t 3.5 starsI find that making a review for this book is a bit hard, I find a lot of things about the book very interesting but at the same time it's very hard to get past Jason's actions. In the end, I'm left wondering what were the authors thinking, not in a bad way, just curious. If you read the blurb then you know what happened between Nathan and Jason. As a person I hate Jason's actions, there's no way around it, it was awful and I would say even unforgivable. As a reader, it was fascinating to see the way Nate handled the situation. Sometimes i found myself agreeing with Jason's thoughts because I am not a believer and I felt like his reactions were so real, like yeah i would totally roll me eyes if someone try to pushed those believes on me. I did liked the way the story didn't made Nate's dad to be a hateful bigot but at the same time I felt like it was too nice, look I know not all christians are bad people but it's so hard to simpatize with someone that tries to change kids identities so bad that they emotionally and mentally torture and abuse them, because telling a kid that what they are is wrong is complete abuse and torture, you can't change my mind on that. I do think the religion - homosexuality theme is very interesting and it was handled very nicely but it was just not enough, not because the authors didn't tried but because it's such a big thing that you can't cover it in one book. I'm gonna leave things here because I feel like my thoughts are a mess.This is a complicated story and I don't think it's for everyone but I did like reading it.
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  • Chris, the Dalek King
    January 1, 1970
    Wow…do I have thoughts about this book. Many many thoughts. Unfortunately I am also in the middle of fighting off the plague and so those thoughts are not quite as coherent as I would hope they would be for this review. Nonetheless, I shall go on.So firstly…Jason Bannon is a self-righteous douchebag. Why? Well the fact that he knowingly and purposefully taped–without consent–Nathan Tull having sex with him, doesn’t help. Nor does the fact that he did so because Nathan’s father is pastor who runs Wow…do I have thoughts about this book. Many many thoughts. Unfortunately I am also in the middle of fighting off the plague and so those thoughts are not quite as coherent as I would hope they would be for this review. Nonetheless, I shall go on.So firstly…Jason Bannon is a self-righteous douchebag. Why? Well the fact that he knowingly and purposefully taped–without consent–Nathan Tull having sex with him, doesn’t help. Nor does the fact that he did so because Nathan’s father is pastor who runs a “pray-the-gay-away” camp. Worse yet, that even after having sex with Nathan, taping Nathan, and then hearing Nathan thank him for giving him courage to tell his father that he is gay…Jason, I couldn’t be a bigger asshat if I tried, Bannon then puts the video online along with an article outing Nathan and shaming his father. And then–and of course there is an “and then”–he has the balls to defend his actions as somehow “helping” Nathan and others like him.There’s no way to get around it. Jason Bannon, you are the winner of Biggest Fucking Douchebag of the Year. Everyone else…you didn’t even bother writing a speech, did ya?Which is going to make this sound a bit odd: I really like Jason. Like an insane amount.He is the human embodiment of Fucked Up. As in, he is one hell of a fucking mess. He is so sure about what is “right” that he is willing to steamroll over anyone. He is pushy and brash and still one-fifth that hurt kid who showed up to live with his aunt after his parents were killed and sat in a church that told him that all that love and acceptance his parents shared with him was wrong.So yeah, I really love him. Because in just about any other LGBT book Jason would be the “Christian.” He’s got just about all the classical character traits. It is just instead of his righteous indignation coming from religion, it comes from his own moral code. And it is so easy for me to hate “Christians” who act like this, to vilify them and spray my disgust all over the internet, but when it is a character who hold a lot of the same views and opinions as you acting like a douche? That’s tricky. Makes you squirm and twist. Makes you feel and think and evalutate some of your own less pleasing thoughts.In fact what I really like about this story is how it kinda flipped the script on several characters and tropes. Especially when it comes to how the Christians in this book are portrayed.Timothy Tull, Nathan’s father, is not a horrible man. A misguided man–a man whose good intention are wildly off the mark–yes. But he is not evil. Like the book says, Timothy Tull did genuinely love the kids who came to Moving Forward. And that just made it more of a fucking tragedy, didn’t it? Nathan’s father genuinely believes in what he is doing. And not in a mean and spiteful way either. He is all about God’s love and God’s forgiveness. It’s just such a fucking tragedy that his version of love is so damn narrow. And while I abhor conversion “therapy,” this book lets me sympathize with this man, especially when it come to having him confront Jason, this fucktard who hurt his son so badly. That Timothy thinks part of the hurt comes from the fact that Nathan thought it ok to be gay, I dislike, but there is no denying that the guy loves his son.And having grown up with, and come out to, a deeply religious family, I get that. And I also get the way that it can fuck you up. Because while it is easy to point to those horrible people who kick their LGBT kids out of the house when they come out and say “these people are monsters,” it is somewhat harder to confront the idea that this person who says they will love you no matter what despite your “sins”…also sees something dark and horrible and disgusting in you. In a part of you that can’t be cut out or separated without irreparable harm. The “hate the sin, love the sinner” way of thinking can cause just as much damage, even if in different ways, than those who come out and get treated to hellfire and brimstone.There is no doubt in my mind that Timothy loves his son. But there is also no doubt in my mind that his brand of “love” is also damaging to Nathan. And to the other kids at the camp.The Preacher’s Son is not the most comfortable book to read, but it is still a very good one to read. It takes several very uncomfortable topics and makes you see every angle and question both sides. Not because it wants to make a case for conversion therapy being ok, but because I think it wants you to see just how harmful it can be. Even when done with love. Even when done with kindness and the best intentions. It is wrong, because when drowning someone with love or hate, the end result is still the same.And while this book isn’t perfect–I think the switch from Nathan going “Nope, not any cock wanted here!” to “Cock? Yes, please!” was a bit abrupt–it still was one hell of a story. And it got to me on so many levels that I’d love to talk about…but then we would be here for an hour and…no. I need to go to bed now. So, should you read this? I’d say yeah. Unless the whole conversion therapy thing is gonna trigger you. Then…yeah, might wanna give this a pass since that is a huge aspect of the story. I myself thought it was incredibly well written, and the exploration of both Nathan and Jason’s characters was excellent. Not the easiest of reads, but well worth the effort.4.5 starsThis book was provided free in exchange for a fair and honest review for Love Bytes. Go there to check out other reviews, author interviews, and all those awesome giveaways. Click below.
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  • F.E. Jr.
    January 1, 1970
    Hi, I'm an ex fundi- there's NOTHING good about conversion camps whether you're talking about ex gay therapy OR more importantly the behavior adjustment camps that are all over the continental United States. ((NEw Bethany Home for Girls in Corpus Christi, Texas)) if you want to google just one version. Fundamentalism is a mental illness that hurts a lot more people than just homosexuals (not to diminish them at all) making light of this subject matter or trying to lighten it really does a terrib Hi, I'm an ex fundi- there's NOTHING good about conversion camps whether you're talking about ex gay therapy OR more importantly the behavior adjustment camps that are all over the continental United States. ((NEw Bethany Home for Girls in Corpus Christi, Texas)) if you want to google just one version. Fundamentalism is a mental illness that hurts a lot more people than just homosexuals (not to diminish them at all) making light of this subject matter or trying to lighten it really does a terrible disservice to the thousands of people in our country alone who suffer from a host of mental and physical maladies due to overexposure to toxic levels of cortisol and adrenaline in their early developmental years. I don't know you, I don't know your work. Don't take this as a personal affront. But this issue is so bad, it's so god awful, that the only proper word I can use to describe what happens in these places and to these poor people, is pure evil. It's not ghosts, or vampires, or mummies - it's men committing heinous crimes in the name of God. Your detractors who are posting negative reviews probably don't know how bad it really is. I hope you reconsider revising this book. If you need an advisor I'd be more than willing to help you.
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  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    The blurb does a good job of laying out what this story is and yes, religion plays a large part in the story. This book won’t be for everyone based upon that (and I should also warn that there are references to and on page scenes of suicide attempts) but those who enjoy getting into the heads of characters and being fully engaged in the struggle within them that will lead to the ultimate payoff will be pleased.What Jason did to Nate, how he used him, was horrible. Being in Jason’s head during th The blurb does a good job of laying out what this story is and yes, religion plays a large part in the story. This book won’t be for everyone based upon that (and I should also warn that there are references to and on page scenes of suicide attempts) but those who enjoy getting into the heads of characters and being fully engaged in the struggle within them that will lead to the ultimate payoff will be pleased.What Jason did to Nate, how he used him, was horrible. Being in Jason’s head during the act, we know he is aware that what he is doing was wrong on so many levels and feels guilty while he’s doing it. Jason is just one of the people in the story who misguidedly believes they are doing something right. Something good that will help people. Meanwhile, 18 year old Nate, a virgin who is spending the weekend looking at a college, on his own for the first time, thinks he has found a friend, a lover and a person who understands. Even though the reader doesn’t hear about the fallout until years afterwards, it is no less gut-wrenching.Picking up four years later, the story is focused on the characters trying to make things right as much as possible for themselves and those they have hurt. Nate has it especially hard, trying to reconcile his homosexuality, his faith and his place in his family. Working at his father’s conversion camp while knowing he is lying to the teenage children who heard his story and may believe it on some level. Struggling to change, but not sure which way is best and who he will hurt more with every decision.Jason is struggling too. A pariah in the town he hated as a teenager and hates now that he is forced back he wants to make amends to Nate, but doesn’t expect Nate to forgive. The two start to see each other and a relationship develops. Jason wants Nate to help change him. Nate needs to learn to think and live for himself and not for his father or anyone else. Even since the incident, Nate has always felt something for Jason even though he question having feelings for his abuser.All the relationships in this story are complex – Nate and his family especially. Nate’s mom understands him more than he knows, but their relationship has also been fractured, not as much by the scandal but by the differing beliefs they all hold. The family is functioning in dysfunction and once Nate starts accepting himself and seeing his father’s flaws, he begins to see his mother in a new light as well. Nate loves his father, but is afraid that his father’s love for him will only go so far when he learns the truth.What works very well here is the characters have good intentions, but they have flaws and they sometimes do things that are wrong. They are living in the gray areas that all people do and struggling with how to deal with it. Questioning motives, feelings and long-held beliefs, questioning their worth to the people around them and society in general and trying to find the balance of what they owe themselves and what they owe others. Jason struggles with what he did to Nathan while still wanting to see Moving Forward burn to the ground. He struggles with whether he is deserving of Nate’s forgiveness even when all he wants is to love Nate and make him happy. Nate struggles with his hypocrisy, his lies and how he can help the kids at the camp when he is really struggling with what is going on there. His belief that what his father is doing can help the kids is repeatedly and tragically tested with the new group of campers that arrive at the same time Jason does.Yes, there is a romance storyline but the meat of the story is more each character’s journey of self-discovery and forgiveness – of others and themselves - and of learning how to live their truth and reconciling that with their faith, family and long held beliefs.I found myself interested and invested in all the characters. There were a few times where the characters’ thoughts felt a bit repetitive, but overall I could understand the struggle each was going through and empathize with them. I’ve always enjoyed the writing team of Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock and while this story was different than I’ve read from them in the past, I enjoyed the departure.
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  • Elena
    January 1, 1970
    As much as it pains me to pass on a new book by this duo, I know myself too well to think I'd enjoy a story centered on religion and a character's faith.
  • Jack Harbon
    January 1, 1970
    I can't decide what to be more upset about. The real life victims of conversion camps voicing their concern for this harmful book being ignored and told to shut up? The idea that forced outings and non-consensual recording during sex acts aren't considered irredeemable, but instead, just "short-sighted"? Or the fact that so many straight women reading this book see no problem with authors profiting off of the pain and suffering and literal torture of queer people?There's a difference between dar I can't decide what to be more upset about. The real life victims of conversion camps voicing their concern for this harmful book being ignored and told to shut up? The idea that forced outings and non-consensual recording during sex acts aren't considered irredeemable, but instead, just "short-sighted"? Or the fact that so many straight women reading this book see no problem with authors profiting off of the pain and suffering and literal torture of queer people?There's a difference between dark and exploitative, and these two authors seem either ignorant or uncaring about that line. Either way, I hope they know that every time they insist their conversion camp isn't "all that bad," there's a gay boy, just like the one in their book, considering killing himself to escape the shame, abuse, and assault that goes on in those camps.Hope the money was worth it!
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  • Aeren
    January 1, 1970
    No considero que esto sea romance, debería estar indicado, aparte, es un completo disparate.
  • J.C. Long
    January 1, 1970
    I just want to say HOW DARE YOU to the authors of this book. How dare you write a story that is nothing more than queer tragedy porn and pass it off as a romance. Do you have any idea how hurtful this nonsense garbage fire of a book is? Do you realize how idiotic you sound trying to put anything close to a humanizing spin on TORTURE? Conversion camps are NOT a plot point for some cishet completely disengaged from the queer community wannabe ally. "Oh, his father is well meaning!" No, his father I just want to say HOW DARE YOU to the authors of this book. How dare you write a story that is nothing more than queer tragedy porn and pass it off as a romance. Do you have any idea how hurtful this nonsense garbage fire of a book is? Do you realize how idiotic you sound trying to put anything close to a humanizing spin on TORTURE? Conversion camps are NOT a plot point for some cishet completely disengaged from the queer community wannabe ally. "Oh, his father is well meaning!" No, his father is a bastard who put him through conversion therapy. There is no well meaning there. There is no gray. There is no complex, multifaceted issue. Conversion camp is torture. No one can possibly submit someone they truly love to torture. No one. Conversion camps cause hundreds of suicides every year, countless more attempted suicides, and leave people broken and wounded for their entire lives. HOW. DARE. YOU. And just so you know: ruining someone's life by outing them and recording a sexual encounter without their consent? NOT a jump off for a relationship. The fact that it even has the chance to be shows that you understand NOTHING of the experiences you're trying to write about. You're profiting off of the suffering and pain of the queer community without ANY understanding of what that pain is and means. You should be ashamed of yourselves.Addendum RE: latest responses from authors: LOVE NEVER LEADS TO ABUSE. ABUSE CANNOT ORIGINATE FROM LOVE. These are antithetical concepts and conflating them in any way is just as harmful as the ridiculous relationship/conversion therapy angle of this story.
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  • Samington
    January 1, 1970
    The happiest ending here would be for Nate to get enough therapy to dump both his awful dad and his shithead "boyfriend" for good.
  • Jo * Smut-Dickted *
    January 1, 1970
    A completely emotional book to me. There is much here that, if it resonates, will make you tear up and really think and ponder and question. I get why some don't want to forgive Jason - I mean I appreciate they have that thought. It's not about forgiveness though or pushing aside terrible actions. It really isn't. What it is about is the understanding between two people, that love can exist side by side with hate, and that there is a gut level honesty with yourself that, unheeded, makes life a l A completely emotional book to me. There is much here that, if it resonates, will make you tear up and really think and ponder and question. I get why some don't want to forgive Jason - I mean I appreciate they have that thought. It's not about forgiveness though or pushing aside terrible actions. It really isn't. What it is about is the understanding between two people, that love can exist side by side with hate, and that there is a gut level honesty with yourself that, unheeded, makes life a living hell. And I'm not only talking about Nate here. I'm talking about all of them - Reverend, the mom, Nate, Isaac, Rose, Jason. They each are a part of the story - it took all of them to tell the tale. And not all is explicitly stated - but by the actions at the end you can see what might be happening..and people do what they are capable of. I understand why the story stays gray in so many ways - or why it might seem like that on the surface. And this is also a book about what lies beneath. I don't think it really is, though, a story about gray - or not like how we usually see it...like OMG I have to live in the gray because I cannot be either all one way or the other - like you are a spinner that is supposed to land on up or down and you stop in the middle. In some ways it is the exact opposite. It makes us understand that gray is the new normal and all the desire for crystal clear distinctions just aren't what life is about. It's all about doing a thing, or not doing a thing, and realizing that the very act of doing or not doing is both about you and about anyone that you will affect. The parallels here are deep and nuanced. No one escapes them. I thought a lot about why the authors gave Jason his disability - and came up with because the first temptation of all of us, after what he did, would be to say GOOD. See. Karma. Or why they choose to have Nate have a girlfriend (and ya know how that's turning out) who he then (it's a gay romance..this is not a spoiler - he's not ending up with the girl) has to break up with. He does a thing (view spoiler)[ cheating- that is always a issue for many that read gay romance -- and somehow to us that's a little less painful then the harm done to him. (hide spoiler)] It's all relative and it's all related. It's weaving a story that makes you push past emotions to get to the candy center. Our choices are uniquely ours - and we can own them - but it is possible for something that is good for you, or that you perceive to be good for you, to be not good for another. That human actions can be rash, kind, cruel, harmful, patient, and loving - and more - all at once. I'm making a mess of the review. The book is an emotional wringer if you can get beyond your preconceived notions and desire to see every person or act as solely good or bad. We kind of like our romance like that though - where the bad guy is clearly the bad guy and the good guy wins. Here there isn't any winner - there is only life - for everyone it is a compromise, a constant push and pull, and a challenge to live life to the best they can of their abilities - with as much integrity, honesty, and love...as they can. I'll only say one thing that I could not reconcile (view spoiler)[ and that is the divorce of Nate's parents - it doesn't feel authentic, it doesn't settle in me. Not because I think they had a great relationship, but because we don't see any of the real work of that decision - and it makes it far too easy to just end on a sort of oh yeah Tim's really bad because all along you sort of are led to believing Kristin is the one that's "more good" if that makes sense... it feels a bit of a cop out-- and I didn't like it. I do, however, agree conversion therapy camp had to close yes. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Isak+Even
    January 1, 1970
    I haven't read the book so that's why I'm not rating it.Having read the blurb I can't accept this as a romance. Someone having sex with someone, filming them, putting it online and then being forgiven by the abused person? No. Just no. No matter how wrong the character thinks it is, how he suffers afterwards, blah blah blah. Romanticising abuse is not sexy. And don't even get me started on the whole conversion therapy arc and how much the dad running the camp loves his son.This whole plot is giv I haven't read the book so that's why I'm not rating it.Having read the blurb I can't accept this as a romance. Someone having sex with someone, filming them, putting it online and then being forgiven by the abused person? No. Just no. No matter how wrong the character thinks it is, how he suffers afterwards, blah blah blah. Romanticising abuse is not sexy. And don't even get me started on the whole conversion therapy arc and how much the dad running the camp loves his son.This whole plot is giving me anxiety without even having read it, I can't even imagine people who have been through similar things may feel.IF this book hadn't been romance, but a thriller, a noir novel or whatever, I may have considered it even though religious themes are not my thing. But romance?? WTF?
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  • Sunne
    January 1, 1970
    This book…obviously not everybody is happy with this book.I’m not sure everybody who commented has actually read the book or read it properly.Why? Because it is a complicated book about a serious matter. So I’m going to try and get my thoughts in line:The people in this book are real – they are not stereotypes, good or bad. They are both.Jason is an a** - when he films and outs Nathan, he is driven by the self-righteous urge to expose Timothy Tull, Nathan’s father and leader of a conversion ther This book…obviously not everybody is happy with this book.I’m not sure everybody who commented has actually read the book or read it properly.Why? Because it is a complicated book about a serious matter. So I’m going to try and get my thoughts in line:The people in this book are real – they are not stereotypes, good or bad. They are both.Jason is an a** - when he films and outs Nathan, he is driven by the self-righteous urge to expose Timothy Tull, Nathan’s father and leader of a conversion therapy camp. He’s been hurt emotionally by him after the death of his parents. So Jason has found his own goals, wants to be a journalist who draws attention to the wrongs of this world, thinking the end justifies the means, trying to expose the man and his camp by proving his own son is gay and in that way helping all the gay kids. It helps the reader to still like him a bit in the beginning because while «seducing» Nathan, he has pangs of conscience, he really likes Nathan.A few years forward, Jason is a regretful man, forced to redefine his world and his worldviews. No, Jason is not the loveable, hot MC….he is a man with problems. But he works through them. There is a lot of self-finding going on by him during the book. Nathan – oh, sweet Nathan – his first step out in the big bad world had backfired so badly, that he never really dared again. After his outing years ago through Jason, he still lives with his parents, working as counsellor at this dad’s camp. So conflicted, so repressed, so hard trying to be what his father taught him to be. But also glad that he still has his father’s love. And that is part of the message of this book. That in real life the people who have the power to hurt you, are the ones who love you and who you love. So Nathan struggles on and on, trying to not disappoint his father again, who loves him so much.The Reverend Tull – he loves his son, he loves the kids in his camp. He sincerely believes he is helping them – according to his narrow, bible based, world view. He is the symbol for all the parents, who tell their gay kids, that they still love them, despite their wrong “lifestyle” or their “sins”. He is the person who screws with their heads because while he tells them, he loves them, he obviously still hates parts of them. He symbolizes every parent with that mindset.And this is another message of the book: Love and well-meaning is not a justification for unintended cruelty, it can be even more cruel than open hate or disgust. It’s made clear in the book: conversion therapy is cruel, no matter if it’s tried with electro shocks or prayers and good thoughts.I also didn't like Nathan’s mom much. Why? Because in the book she is portrayed in a good way, a way that actually doesn’t fit with the Reverend and his camp and she seems to be quite a rebel. But she allowed everything to happen and she knew it was wrong but didn’t interfere with her husband. Aunt Rose purpose in this book is mostly to give Jason a reason to come back to this town (and to stay) and to kick him once in a while to get his though process started, to get another point of view, not as narrow-minded as his own. Both MCs have a lot to work through and it is showing in the writing. It is a complicated book that requests the reader to stretch their imagination and abandon well worn out paths of who is wrong or right. It is a book that reflects real problems in the real world, brought to readers with the addition of the romance. Is it a topic for a romance book? Why not? Because of books like this, books that add real life problems to their stories, I have started reading m/m. I can find cookie cutter romance everywhere, but books that dare to tackle uncomfortable themes and draw attention to such grievances are heightening the awareness for the problems. Ten years ago, I hadn’t even known conversion camps actually exist, let alone what problems gay people still face. In my bubble of the world, my gay friends were fine. Ten years later I try to be an advocate and an supportive ally. So – back to the book. It could have been a five star for me. But it’ll be four because I think some of the message got lost in too much musing of the main characters, Jason especially. He got a bit repetitive. A few sentences less (or a bit more than a few) and it would have been clearer. I got the feeling that several very important conclusions have been lost to the reader because they had been hidden between a lot of not so necessary stuff.
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  • Jaime
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like I need to start this review with a disclaimer.*My opinion on this story is just that and I am in no way negating the effects of abuse and the damage done by conversion therapy camps* I have been known to enjoy twisted, dark theme, untraditional stories. Some are romances and some are not. I am having a hard time totally categorizing this story because of the "love" story that occurs between our two MC. This is a love that many will find wrong, unacceptable, abusive, predatory, and mu I feel like I need to start this review with a disclaimer.*My opinion on this story is just that and I am in no way negating the effects of abuse and the damage done by conversion therapy camps* I have been known to enjoy twisted, dark theme, untraditional stories. Some are romances and some are not. I am having a hard time totally categorizing this story because of the "love" story that occurs between our two MC. This is a love that many will find wrong, unacceptable, abusive, predatory, and much more... It is a "second chance" love that I had a hard time with because it makes you think "would I be able to forgive and love someone who did this" -- Jason is introduced to us through his actions and inner monologue as a predator who makes impulsive decisions for "the greater good" without taking into consideration or even caring about who he is hurting and how his actions will damage another human being. It is almost classic sociopathic behavior. I know we are to "forgive and forget" but this book pushes the limits of that and then some. I don't know anyone who would be able to "forgive and forget" what happened let a lone "forgive, forget, and then fall in love," neither do I know of sociopathic predators who come to see their actions as wrong, after the fact. Second, the relationship between Nathan and his Father is one where Nathan constantly is afraid of letting his dad down and of losing his dad -- complicated by the fact that his dad represents the theological beliefs Nathan has been raised with and strives to follow. Nathan is striving to be the "Good Son" to both to his father and his theological father -- represented in the same man, yet totally separate. Nathan may feel "sure" his dad will love him through anything but he also knows his dad will most likley find his life sinful and never fully accept him because of who he is attracted to and loves. Nathan also fears for his eternal soul and is having a horrible time reconciling a lifetime of teaching and expectations with his emotions, needs, and desires. Finally, the subject matter in this story and the actions of the characters are very strong. Then, it is as if "love" fixes all and everything is rainbows and unicorns. The resolution was too quick to be plausible. Taking us into this area and having such volatile situations stacked together requires a lot of finesse...the resolution of a story is just as important as the set up. The ending or last 3rd of the book felt rushed and as if the author's were done with the topics and wanted to wrap up the story in "ten pages or less"-- it left me feeling totally bereft and I would have been happier had Nathan grown some balls and told Jason to take off - yet, he is so desperate for love he continues to accept the conditional love from his dad and a boyfriend who violated him. Additionally, the complete behavior and change of belief from the dad in this story, a minister who has been running conversion therapy camps who practically overnight changes his entire belief on the subject of LGBTQ -- really unrealistic and asking the readers to take yet another huge fucking leap. If only all the people who thrived on hate cloaked in righteousness could change that quickly-- maybe our world we be a perfect Utopia. Just too much... too many leaps and disregard. Again, this coming from someone who loves Dark Theme story's full of mind-fu#*ery!Rating: Not Rating
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  • Daphne
    January 1, 1970
    Not doing it. There’s a line and for me, this is it. I feel like buying and reading this story for enjoyment (which is why i read) would be appropriating a virulent form of emotional and psychological abuse that too many young people suffer through with no hope of respite because their parents do this to them. In 2018, with the climate of hate dressed up as religion choking our country - I just can’t. Maybe I’m wildly hypocritical because I’ve read so many books - some I loved, including religio Not doing it. There’s a line and for me, this is it. I feel like buying and reading this story for enjoyment (which is why i read) would be appropriating a virulent form of emotional and psychological abuse that too many young people suffer through with no hope of respite because their parents do this to them. In 2018, with the climate of hate dressed up as religion choking our country - I just can’t. Maybe I’m wildly hypocritical because I’ve read so many books - some I loved, including religion. But this is different to me.
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  • Theresa
    January 1, 1970
    Yuck!!!!!
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    3.75*How profound. I can't say this is my favorite, because I've decided stories involving religion (not to be confused with faith) makes me uncomfortable, but it is very well written and makes you think about things. I can't even say I liked Jason or what he did and the way he thought he could change the world...but the fact that he even tried to is commendable. His and Molly’s conversation at the end of the book also made me think. They talk about people how they feel about people in the close 3.75*How profound. I can't say this is my favorite, because I've decided stories involving religion (not to be confused with faith) makes me uncomfortable, but it is very well written and makes you think about things. I can't even say I liked Jason or what he did and the way he thought he could change the world...but the fact that he even tried to is commendable. His and Molly’s conversation at the end of the book also made me think. They talk about people how they feel about people in the closet. In not so many words they feel like: they're out and proud and in the front lines working for basic rights, while everyone not out is sitting back waiting to enjoy the perks. Of course it isn't as cut and dry as that, but it certainly opens your eyes and makes you think. "People said the mind narrowed as it aged. That youth was a time of malleability, that children were blank slates— innocent; as though lack of information were a form of purity rather than a hindrance— that teenagers were society’s revolutionaries. There was some truth to that. The rebelliousness and wonder of being young let you shrug off your parent’s prehistoric ideas and replace them with your own progressive values."Jason and Nate's chemistry, to me, was..odd..to say the least. I personally didn't feel that it was a "burning" chemistry, but more out of desperation. Nate with his fear of coming out and the way he leaned on (and still leans) on Jason to be his rock with coming out. Did he lean towards Jason because he was the first male to show interest in him? I couldn't really tell. For Jason: did he just feel bad for what he did to Nate and just wanted to make it up to him? He does think Nate is "beautiful", but it seems they just hopped into bed all the time- all nervous and awkward and lusty. Reverend Tull, Nate’s father, was an anomaly. You wanted to hate him for what he was doing, but he genuinely believed he was helping this kids and loved them and was doing something good for them. He was a compassionate person with no hate in his heart. It wasn't until something pretty extreme happens to open the reverend's eyes to see the route he is going is more hurting than helping. It doesn't help the fact that Nate is lying to him. Yes, he tells him he has "phantoms" and they try to pray it out, but Nate doesn't tell him the extent and that it's never going to really work, and how would the Reverend actually know? I feel like, if Nathan had been more honest in the beginning, instead of becoming this "Poster Boy" for conversion therapy, maybe it wouldn't have gone on as long as it had. That comes now full circle to Jason and Molly's conversation about those not coming out.... just, profound. Nate has major conflict between his “sins” and his love for God. He must separate his faith from religion. He honestly believes God loves him, and everyone else who "sins". How could he not, if everyone was made in His image? If I were truly a religious person and fully believed in God, this would also be my beliefs. He also has conflict between wanted to be so angry at Jason for what he did, but also loving/lusting after him anyways. “This has been really confusing. Just…figuring out if I can still have a relationship with Him. It’s almost like …like we had a miscommunication? Like, He’s always loved me, and I was going out of my way, doing all this harmful shit to try to get his approval, when He was just right there like… like what the fuck, Nate? You’re fine the way you are.”Jason laughed softly. “I like that your God says ‘what the fuck.’”“He’d have to, right?” Nate laughed too. “All this shit that goes on in the world, all the shit people do in His name… He’d have to laugh, sometimes.”In the end, Nate seems to figure out his balance between Family, Love, and Faith. Somethings don’t end all that happy, but that’s life, right? But for our MC’s, things will start to look up. "What made forgiveness hard was looking into the eyes of the person who’d wronged you and seeing your own reflection. Knowing you had to give up your little patch of territory on the side of Right, and join your antagonist in that vast gray expanse between God’s light and complete darkness. Because your righteousness was an illusion. Your certainty, a danger. Was that ever how God felt? If He’d made people in his image, did that mean He looked at all these flawed sinners and saw his own reflection? Did he realize that His place wasn’t high above, looking down, but right here amid the mess? Or was He fearless? Was He truly flawless? Did He have a plan?"
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  • Natosha Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    I am on the ledge of trying to decide if I liked this book or if I didn't. I honestly do not know which way I am leaning so I will just stay in the middle on this one where I do but I don't like it.Nate and Jason are both young when they first meet each other. Nate is looking into college and Jason already attending the college that Nate is visiting to see what college life is all about. Jason knows who Nate is but he has never had anything previously to do with him. But Jason gets this hair bra I am on the ledge of trying to decide if I liked this book or if I didn't. I honestly do not know which way I am leaning so I will just stay in the middle on this one where I do but I don't like it.Nate and Jason are both young when they first meet each other. Nate is looking into college and Jason already attending the college that Nate is visiting to see what college life is all about. Jason knows who Nate is but he has never had anything previously to do with him. But Jason gets this hair brained idea that he is going to help Nate and every other gay person that has been to the conservation camp that Nates dad runs. This is where Jason really makes a huge mess of things.Jason decides that the only way to open up people's eyes about the conservation camp is to expose the fact that not only is Nate gay but also that he has had to hide it from his father because of him not approving and the fact that his father tried to change those that are gay into straight. That is all well and good but Jason not only exposes that but he exposes Nate in the most cruel possible way, by video taping them having sex and releasing it to the internet. Now years later Nate is still struggling because of the aftermath of that video and Jason is returning to town after being injured in Afghanistan. Jason has started to realize that he may have been I. The wrong with the way that he went about bringing attention to the harm that conservation camps can cause but it takes Nate to actually open Jason's eyes up to just how bad and how much harm his video actually caused.When someone betrays a person the way that Jason betrayed Nate, is their a way to move past that hurt and develop a loving relationship or is it too much to ask for forgiveness from someone that was hurt the way that Jason hurt Nate?There was parts of this book that I really liked. I liked the fact that Jason had to realize on his own just how much his actions affected others. I also like that he had to figure out what the differentlce is between right and wrong even at the age of 26. What I did not like was their was no real consequences for what Jason did. Yes people was negatively affected and people was negatively affected by the conservation camp also but there was really no consequences for these things. Not anything big anyway. Regardless this was a decent read. I cannot say one way or the other what would have made it a better read for me but I did enjoy it and I truly believe that others will enjoy this read too. I guess my biggest thing that really bothered me about this book was there was not really much happiness in this book or at least not in my opinion. But that is just my opinion and I believe that people should make their own opinion based off of what they read since people like different things for different reasons.Was given this galley copy for free for an open and honest review
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  • Manfred
    January 1, 1970
    When I read the blurb for this one, I immediately knew it would be right for me, and it was! Once I started reading, I wasn't able to put this book down, I just had to know what would happen next.Still, the ratings are not really soaring, so what's the problem with this story?First and foremost it is not a gay romance. It is probably a novel with gay protagonists and (a little) sex or rather making out included.Second it doesn't have your typical HEA with marriage proposal and living happily fro When I read the blurb for this one, I immediately knew it would be right for me, and it was! Once I started reading, I wasn't able to put this book down, I just had to know what would happen next.Still, the ratings are not really soaring, so what's the problem with this story?First and foremost it is not a gay romance. It is probably a novel with gay protagonists and (a little) sex or rather making out included.Second it doesn't have your typical HEA with marriage proposal and living happily from then on. Don't get me wrong, there is a happy ending but both men still have their doubts and struggles.Third - and this is probably the only one that was really relevant for me, the conversion of Nate from living as a straight man (struggling with gay thoughts) to returning to Jason was a little too fast for my liking...Many reviewers have big problems with the conversion therapy camp and how it is depicted.We do not have anything like this in Europe (as far as I know), so for me this was rather an abstract idea. However, I do not find it fair, to hold that against this book. There are so many violent stories, should I now stop reading thrillers because people get killed in them? I am not endorsing or accepting rape or murder or theft, when reading stories that include those tropes.If this is a personal trigger for someone, it`s a completely different thing, but for me it was absolutely clear that this book did not idolize or even accept this crazy concept of a conversion therapy.Nate's father runs a camp for conversion therapy of gay kids and when Jason meets Nate in college he films their night together to use the footage against the pastor. However, the real story starts 4 years later, when Jason returns home, after being injured in Afghanistan. And it is much more the struggle of those two with their feelings, regrets, anger and still attraction that is the main trope for the book.I absolutely loved it, it wasn't always nice but always believable, sometimes incredibly sad but still a wonderful read.For me above 4 stars, probably 4.5 and recommended - if you know what you are getting into!
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  • Clare
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not averse to religion in stories. I'm not religious at all and personally I think it's more harmful than helpful. But some people get comfort from it and that deserves to be given consideration.That said, I'm not interested in reading about harmful, abusive religion being given any kind of understanding and/or forgiveness.If people without lived experience are going to write about these things, they need to have some respect and listen to the voices of the people who have lived it, who hav I'm not averse to religion in stories. I'm not religious at all and personally I think it's more harmful than helpful. But some people get comfort from it and that deserves to be given consideration.That said, I'm not interested in reading about harmful, abusive religion being given any kind of understanding and/or forgiveness.If people without lived experience are going to write about these things, they need to have some respect and listen to the voices of the people who have lived it, who have been very clear in their feelings about it.
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  • Bev
    January 1, 1970
    This controversial story was really well written. The subject matter?? Well, as far as I'm concerned, the more information there is out there about these camps the better, and that can only be a good thing surely?? No, I'm not gay and am lucky to live in a country where religion and the churches don't hold anywhere near the power that they used to [and thank goodness for that]....but I consider myself to be a member of the Human Race, and that doesn't mean that we should ignore what is going on This controversial story was really well written. The subject matter?? Well, as far as I'm concerned, the more information there is out there about these camps the better, and that can only be a good thing surely?? No, I'm not gay and am lucky to live in a country where religion and the churches don't hold anywhere near the power that they used to [and thank goodness for that]....but I consider myself to be a member of the Human Race, and that doesn't mean that we should ignore what is going on in the US and other countries in the world. Do we still have conversion therapy over here?? Well, if you believe our government, the answer is no and all sorts of organisations have signed up to a Memorandum of Understanding condemning the practice as dangerous, although it has to be said that many health and social care workers over here are still understood to treat LGBTQ people more poorly than if they were heterosexual. Why can't it just be understood and accepted that sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be 'cured', it is something that is designated at birth and programmed into your genes.There can be absolutely no argument that what Jason did was morally indefensible and to be honest, a pretty shocking and cruel way of trying to score a point against someone's beliefs BUT pot meet kettle, it's also morally indefensible to try and force someone to change their sexuality against their wishes. Jason was a selfish, twisted and bitter individual and without question, a complete and utter douchebag; there really was no way on Earth that he deserved anyone's forgiveness. I would've wanted to get as far away from him as possible, but that then brings us to the Moving Forward camp and Nate, who had the courage to stay put despite what Jason did to him. Nate was obviously trying to find some sort of redemption in his father's eyes by counselling unwilling kids whose parents had sent them to the camp to rid them of their 'gayness'. I got the impression that Nate was a very troubled character indeed who secretly struggled daily with his faith and his sexuality; he had every chance of ending up in hospital himself...and surely would've done if not for his Dad, although I suppose it is also true that his Dad was a great part of the problem too.I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Tim Tull loved his son deeply, but I also have no doubt that the way he chose to demonstrate that love was wrong. The pressure Nate and his mother were under to tow the line in the name of God and their faith was immense, and would've brought lesser people to their knees surely. I can't condone that sort of behaviour at all BUT I also can't condone what Jason did, and the way he did it. Two wrongs don't make a right in my book, and there was fault on both sides. Yes, these camps are an evil that should be eradicated, no argument there from me, but how it's done and by whom are issues which I'm not qualified to answer. 😔
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  • Barb ~rede-2-read~
    January 1, 1970
    Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher through Hearts on Fire Reviews in exchange for an impartial review. **3.5 stars**Apologies for the length of this review. I just had things to say. So I did. When I read the blurb for this one, I thought it would be interesting, timely, and provide MCs that I could love. Well, what a surprise that turned out to be! There is so much here! There’s an MC I loved to hate, and one that I should have loved but really wanted to smack upside the head Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher through Hearts on Fire Reviews in exchange for an impartial review. **3.5 stars**Apologies for the length of this review. I just had things to say. So I did. When I read the blurb for this one, I thought it would be interesting, timely, and provide MCs that I could love. Well, what a surprise that turned out to be! There is so much here! There’s an MC I loved to hate, and one that I should have loved but really wanted to smack upside the head a few times. The topic of gay conversion therapy is presented with pros and cons and anger and forgiveness and love and tolerance and confusion, confusion, confusion—mostly for the young people who come to the camp, the readers, but also for Nathan Tull, the preacher’s son. I had a difficult time rating this story because the writing was outstanding, the topic timely, the characters well-developed and realistic, and even the secondary characters, including the Reverend were atypical and not the usual nasty, evil people some authors portray. But formalized religion with characters who use the Bible to explain their prejudices and beliefs is just difficult for me to read, even when I know the point of the story is to promote religious freedom and to counteract homophobic behavior. The authors presented the facts and they allowed readers to make their own decisions, but after a while, I got bogged down in the religious aspects. So although I liked the story, I wasn’t head-over-heels for it and just can’t give it the “enjoyed it” rating of four stars. Jason Banning was a college senior when he met Nathan Tull, the son of the preacher from the small town he’s been living in with his aunt since the death of his parents. A photo journalism major, when the seeds of a plan to discredit Nathan’s father, Reverend Tull, who runs a gay conversion therapy camp, enter his mind, he proceeds full steam ahead without any regard for Nathan at all. The plan? He videos the first-time sex he engages in with Nathan and though it’s evident Nathan loves every moment of it, Jason impersonally takes that video, creates stills, and floods social media with the photos, the video, and with a scathing article on the horror that is the Reverend’s conversion therapy camp. Nathan’s life choices were taken away but he’s surprised to find his father not only forgives him, but he still loves him and swings Nathan to the belief that these phantom feelings are able to be overcome and he can live a happy life with a woman by his side. The story primarily takes place four years after the opening scene, and Nathan is now working as a counselor at the camp when he learns that Jason Banning has returned to town. Jason has been injured by a roadside bomb, effectively ending his world-traveling photo journalism career. In constant pain, and without work, he spends much of his time reflecting on his life and some of what he is discovering about himself is painful to face. He’s also living with the aunt who raised him when his parents died, and she is terminally ill so he has grief and bereavement issues to deal with in relation to her, as well as his own emotional pain. Never mind the fact that, although she’s always been proud of him, she’s disheartened by what he did to Nathan and provides him with fodder for countless hours of self-reflection. This story is not an easy one—not by a longshot. The reverend is not a nasty man—his motivation really is love for all people, despite his firm belief that homosexuality is wrong. Much of the story takes place at the camp as kids arrive and Nathan faces a group of both savvy and disheartened boys. The savvy kids are well aware of his infamy and the one boy who is a focal point in the story is there against his will and finds Nathan’s hypocrisy disheartening. In the meantime, unknown to not only the kids, but the reverend as well, Jason and Nathan have made contact and are now seeing one another secretly. Nathan may not be able to easily forgive him, but he loves Jason—a fact that becomes more evident as the story unfolds. And Jason, the guy I hated throughout most of the book, finally reaches the conclusion that the way he bullheadedly stormed ahead with his plan without regard to Nathan’s feelings and without allowing Nathan the time and place to come out to his family, was morally reprehensible. As I said early in the review, the story is highly complex, very detailed, and the progress toward a resolution for both the gay conversion therapy camp and for the relationship between Nathan and Jason is slow. Very slow. I’ve only covered key points in the review, but there is so much more to this story that many readers will likely enjoy the opportunity to explore it for themselves. Some of the secondary characters are very endearing, including Isaac, the boy who did not want to come to the camp. I wanted to grab him from the pages and bring him to my family so we could provide him with a positive environment for personal growth. (I do get personally involved in well-written stories.) If you are looking for a romance that is not simple and that requires focus and concentration and a willingness to keep an open mind about formalized religion, and if you can enjoy this story for the journey of discovery that it is, then I definitely recommend this one.
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  • Carol (bookish_notes)
    January 1, 1970
    So. This book. I wasn't sure how to tackle a review for this book. I've read the discussions surrounding this contents of the story. I was already on the fence on what to rate it, and I've read many in the queer community have expressed their outrage and concerns over the topics addressed in the blurb and story itself, so I'm not going to have a rating for this book at all and will try to address the contents of this book in my review.I was perplexed by the premise of this book and was curious t So. This book. I wasn't sure how to tackle a review for this book. I've read the discussions surrounding this contents of the story. I was already on the fence on what to rate it, and I've read many in the queer community have expressed their outrage and concerns over the topics addressed in the blurb and story itself, so I'm not going to have a rating for this book at all and will try to address the contents of this book in my review.I was perplexed by the premise of this book and was curious to see just how the story was going to work itself out. I've read a few of the authors' works before, so despite...everything, I decided to read it. If you read the blurb and decide you don't want to read this book? There's lots of other books out there to read and I would never want anyone to read a book they deem harmful. This review is just going to touch on some of the more prominent issues in this book.The story starts out with a prologue that takes place four years before the start of the main story. It is stated more explicitly later in the story that yes, Nathan is 18 at the start of the book when he's visiting the university campus and meets Jason. Nathan and Jason are both from the same small town of Pinehurst, Washington. Jason is atheist, and Nathan grew up in a preacher's family. Nathan is an only child and his father is revered by the town. His father also runs a gay conversion camp, and represents everything Jason hates.When Jason first meets Nathan and realizes that Nathan is gay, Jason devises a plan to film a sex tape and release it along with an article he'll write that'll expose the preacher as a fraud, because the preacher himself has a gay son. Well. He does manipulate Nathan and does get the tape filmed and released to the public. Nathan was a virgin at the time and the fall out isn't quite what Jason expected. His goal was to hurt Nathan's father, but winded up hurting Nathan the most in the process and outed Nathan in the most public way possible. That itself is very difficult to reconcile in my mind and made it hard to see as a romance novel.Trigger warnings for suicide attempts both on and off the page, and for the manipulation and outing of one of the love interests.From the title and the blurb, you can guess that the book tackles religion, and there's definitely a fair bit of that in this book, but it's not really handled well. The premise is just...not great, to put it mildly. There's just so much happening in this book. It's layer upon layer of angst that gets piled on and it absolutely does get to the point where it seemed excessive.The rest of this review will contain spoilers.(view spoiler)[Jason Banning. Four years ago, he was a senior in college and thought it was going to be his big break into journalism by exposing a small-town preacher for his hypocrisy that will lead to shutting down the conversion camp in Pinehurst. His heart is in the right place that yes, the conversion camp should be shut down because it is harmful to gay teens who are sent there. However. Taking advantage of 18-year-old virgin Nathan and manipulating him into having sex, filming it, releasing it online, and essentially outing Nathan in the process? He's an adult. He needs to take responsibility for his actions. And just everything Jason did is hurtful.We find out that Jason gets death threats and harrassed quite viciously. He leaves and goes to Afghanistan as a reporter and only returns to Pinehurst when his leg gets blown or torn up (we never really get the specifics except that he did not get his leg amputated, but the leg is held together with a lot of metal). He comes back home to his aunt who is dying of cancer, his boyfriend left him and took the dog, he's filled with regret for what he did to Nathan, and finds out that pretty much nothing about Pinehurst has changed since he left.The sex tape. Jason had no idea how old Nathan was. It wasn't until somewhere after the halfway mark, I believe, before we even find out what age Nathan was when that was filmed. It is pointed out by one of Jason's friends that he could very well have been charged with child pornography if Nathan wasn't 18. That friend and his aunt pretty much tell Jason that what he did to Nathan was predatory and Jason violated Nathan. So, technically yes, Jason gets called out on what he did, but he does still try to reason everything away that his heart was in the right place to get rid of the conversion camp. He is apologetic later in the book, but it all came a little too late, honestly. He doesn't truly have any ramifications for his actions regarding the type. It's his own consciousness that plagues him.The thing is, we're made to sympathize with him because half the book is in his POV. It's almost like we're tricked into siding with Jason and excusing what he did. What makes everything even worse is that we find out later that Nathan tried to commit suicide after the tape and the article were released, and I just don't really get how Nathan can still choose to be in a relationship with Jason after all this time.The conversion camp. A lot of the inner workings of this camp is told from Nathan's perspective and we see his struggle with reconciling his father's teachings of God with what he sees in the teens at the camp. He sees their struggles and he realizes his own hypocrisy in telling the teens that they need to be straight when he himself acknowledges that he's gay. Nathan's father is seen from an eye of a child who has essentially been brainwashed. Nathan loves his father and his father is, I think, emotionally abusive? It creates long-term damage on teens that go through the conversion camp, and Nathan's mother definitely enables it.The father keeps saying that it's the teen's choice to be at the camp. That everything is a choice. But I don't necessarily buy it because the preacher and his wife are adults and are in a position of power over these teenagers. One is even pressured by his parents to go to the camp, so to say that they're not pressured to be there are just that. Words. It doesn't mean anything. There is a suicide attempt at the camp. It's graphic. And I'm shocked there was absolutely no trigger warning before the book (or at least in the ARC anyways. I don't know if it's in the final edition or not). The camp does get closed down by the end of the book, but not because of anything really that Jason did or anything that was caused by a movement to shut it down. But more of a result of a teen's suicide attempt, Nathan coming out to his family, and Nathan's parent's divorce, I guess?The relationship. It's...not really the main focus of the story after everything that happens. I found that I liked Jason and Nathan as characters at the end of the book. But as separate characters and in the epilogue-type chapter that's a year out from the events of the book. So much of what we do see in their relationship stems from their past and what Jason did. It's like every time they met up in this story was to have sex and there wasn't really any real reason that I could see where it felt natural for Nathan to trust Jason again. Nathan has never been with another guy and it's almost like Jason is his only choice in the end?Nathan was dating a woman at the beginning of this book. He knows he doesn't love her but he still strings her along and winds up cheating on her with Jason. When she finds out, she calls Nathan out on it, but the cheating part is just another aspect of this book that didn't feel right to me to read. It's really not like there are female characters at all besides the girlfriend, Nathan's mother, and Jason's aunt. (hide spoiler)]Overall, I think there were just too many heavy topics in this book and it was hard to come to terms with the premise. The one time where I felt like I could feel them being a couple was in the epilogue where we're being told a year later how far they've come. I wasn't actively hating the book while I was reading it, but I do wonder if it wasn't for the dual POVs, if the book made me feel empathy for characters who don't deserve it?***Thanks to Judith at Binge On Books/A Novel Takes PR for the ARC as part of a bookstagram tour***
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  • Jax
    January 1, 1970
    It was interesting to see a gay person of faith come to terms with the idea that they can have a relationship with God and be true to themselves. And I liked how Nate’s dad is not portrayed as a monster; it’s much more complicated than that. The preacher loves his son, he’s more misguided than evil. Like Jason, he does harm by doing what he believes is right.I think the consequences of conversion therapy and outing are clear and handled well, but ultimately this was filled with too much pain and It was interesting to see a gay person of faith come to terms with the idea that they can have a relationship with God and be true to themselves. And I liked how Nate’s dad is not portrayed as a monster; it’s much more complicated than that. The preacher loves his son, he’s more misguided than evil. Like Jason, he does harm by doing what he believes is right.I think the consequences of conversion therapy and outing are clear and handled well, but ultimately this was filled with too much pain and sadness for me to really enjoy it. And these guys spend a lot of time in their heads, often rehashing the past. It took me a while to read just because I was never that anxious to get back to it.
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  • Anna Kļaviņa
    January 1, 1970
    Reaction to reviews & summaryNot something I would read for fun as religion at its worst & homophobia makes my blood boil but reading comments, I'm curious. But most importantly I trust Henry as an author, I'm sure she doesn't trivialize suffering/trauma of her characters.While I think that people who run conversion camps and parents who send their children to these camps should be in prison, I also believe that some of these people trully believe that they are doing the right thing and Reaction to reviews & summaryNot something I would read for fun as religion at its worst & homophobia makes my blood boil but reading comments, I'm curious. But most importantly I trust Henry as an author, I'm sure she doesn't trivialize suffering/trauma of her characters.While I think that people who run conversion camps and parents who send their children to these camps should be in prison, I also believe that some of these people trully believe that they are doing the right thing and I don't see how acknowledging that & writting about such person is bad.As for Jason. I don't see how his action can be redeemed.
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  • Mare SLiTsReaD Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Soooooooooooooo.......................I'm very very very much on the fence with this one. I don't know if I liked it or if I didnt. And that really really makes me sad on this "Blue Monday"Rock & Henry are 1 of my fav colabs ever. They work so freaking well together and I honestly have no idea who wrote what. It normally flows. And TBH it was not the writing. It was more so the story........I just ....... could not see the 2 MCs together. AT ALL. And it wasn't so much as "preachy" as it was Soooooooooooooo.......................I'm very very very much on the fence with this one. I don't know if I liked it or if I didnt. And that really really makes me sad on this "Blue Monday"Rock & Henry are 1 of my fav colabs ever. They work so freaking well together and I honestly have no idea who wrote what. It normally flows. And TBH it was not the writing. It was more so the story........I just ....... could not see the 2 MCs together. AT ALL. And it wasn't so much as "preachy" as it was just. Honestly. I can't tell you. I can't put my finger on it. And that is bothering more than anything else. Mare~Slitsread
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    Just no. I think there are many here who have explained why and i don't need to rehash it.
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    This book really gives you a lot to think about. Its something I suppose in this day and age to remember that these camps really do still go on. Although the camp in this book diesnt seem as radical as some I have read about.At the beginning I really didnt like Jason, I couldn't believe that he would do that. And Nate, I know he got to know God but I am not sure I would be as quick to forgive somebody that had done something like that to me.I felt for the boys at the camp. Although Steven and Ty This book really gives you a lot to think about. Its something I suppose in this day and age to remember that these camps really do still go on. Although the camp in this book diesnt seem as radical as some I have read about.At the beginning I really didnt like Jason, I couldn't believe that he would do that. And Nate, I know he got to know God but I am not sure I would be as quick to forgive somebody that had done something like that to me.I felt for the boys at the camp. Although Steven and Tyler seemed to have it right and then poor Isaac.In the end Nate and Jason end up together and somehow Nates father is ok with the idea of his son being gay, not so sure he would have taken it s easily.
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