Published by Rennie Road Books on March 21st 2017
Also by this author: Bittersweet (True North, #1), Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository
Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.
In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.
But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.
It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.
Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.
Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?
Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord's name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.
I’ve been a fan of Sarina Bowen’s books for over a year now. Some of her books are kind of hit or miss for me, but I can proudly say that this one was definitely a hit for me. Though it was so heartbreaking at times, it was still such a romantic and refreshing romance between two fabulous men. If you’re looking for an m/m love story that doesn’t have ridiculous drama, has a unique setting, and has wonderful characters that you can’t help but cheer for, this book is probably for you. I recommend picking it up! Sarina hasn’t let down here with this new series. I only wish that I had read it when it was first published under a different name a few years ago.
Josh is such a sweet and caring guy. There honestly isn’t anything that I disliked about him. He had such a wonderful and pure personality. I really sympathized with all the years that he spent inside the cult. He was bullied by a particular group of people inside of it that targeted him for being gay. I can’t say this enough, I just enjoyed him as a character. He had so many awesome personality traits that made him instantly likable. For example, Josh is great at taking care of Maggie’s baby. More on her later, but through taking care of her, he learned how great he is at taking care of babies in general. I loved getting to see him figuring out his strength and true passion.
On the other hand, we have Caleb. I also loved Caleb. I loved how passionate and sure he was about Josh, even when Josh had his doubts about whether or not them being together was okay. Caleb was always very careful and understanding when Josh had these doubts, and I loved that about him. He’s a decent guy all around. He may not be good with kids like Josh is, but he discovered his passion for working with cars while still in the cult. I’ll admit that I did get frustrated with Caleb for a hot minute towards the end. I’m not going to say much about it, but it made me want to shake him. Thankfully, the drama didn’t last longer than a couple of pages so it didn’t turn out to be a huge deal.
Caleb and Josh make such a powerful and beautiful couple. I was a little surprised by how early on in the book that they get together. As soon as they leave the cult, they end up hooking up, which was surprising. However, they did already have an established friendship so that made it believable. They are such a sweet and lovely couple, you can’t help but cheer for them to have a happy ending because of all the bullshit they were put through for most of their lives. So the romance was hot and fantastic. It was one of my favorite aspects of the book for sure!
So the supporting characters were memorable as well. Once they escape, they hitch hike a ride from a kind trucker named Washington. This dude is so freaking nice and you can’t help but instantly love him. Though he’s mostly in the first part of the book, he doesn’t go away, and the boys never forget all he did for them. The boys move in with Maggie who escaped the cult years back and is now married. Her husband Daniel is just as hilarious and caring as his wife. They become Caleb and Josh’s family, and you fall in love with those two (and baby Chloe) just as much as you do with the boys. Sarina Bowen is amazing at writing well developed characters, even if they are simply supporting.
As a whole, this was a fun book to read. I won’t lie, I wasn’t able to stop reading once I first picked it up. I was just automatically swept away by the characters, both main and supporting. Caleb and Josh are two compelling and well written characters. I can’t talk about them enough without just continually rambling. So I’m going to repeat that you should read this if you’re looking for something sad, but not completely heartbreaking. It might have some sadness, but there’s a lot of funny moments in there as well. You should just read it and judge it for yourself!