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3.9 out of 5 stars35
3.9 out of 5 stars
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I'm not a huge fan of this author, but I couldn't help but want to read this tale, based on the blurb, and though there's no full-on sex in it, it's a very good read, surprisingly well-written. I've found her other books rather messy, confused and confusing, but this had me hooked from the start due to some of the unacceptable, hard-to-believe events


Without wishing to spoil the tale, the blurb isn't accurate, as Jack's parents finding out about him is where the book ends, on a cliffhanger. One that was good enough for me to both be annoyed that this wasn't clearly indicated as a 'part 1' novel, and to go and nose at the author's website - only to find that this is book 1 of 3.

This is a tale featuring a budding loving relationship between two incredibly decent, loyal, likable young men and two lots of parents who don't deserve to be parents. There's bigotry, prejudice, brutality, and yet hope. We get to see the dangers of small towns dominated by close-minded, bigoted religion, spewed out by a self-important and blinkered pastor. One who's selective in his interpretation of the Bible and the message he spreads, and who is not above reproach; he's a hypocrite, a liar and a bully and he certainly doesn't know the true meaning of being a Christian. However, satisfyingly, there are also some decent role models and people who are prepared to go out of their way for others. It was both touching and horrifying, and it drew me in. Totally.

I was in two minds about reading the next book as it looks to be particularly harrowing, but when I nosed at the author's website, the cover image of book 3 was reassuring and heart-warming. I can't say more, but have a read and see for yourselves; this is well worth a read...

I contacted the author about the other books in the series, and she advised that book 2 is out on 25/03 and book 3 on 01/04. I'll be watching out for both.
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on 17 April 2014
I downloaded this book when it was released but knew it was the First of in a series so decided to wait till I had the next Two books!

OMG, I’m still totally and completely wowed by this book.
Jack and Andrew live in a small town called Sweet, in Georgia. Jack's father is the towns Minister, to say he is homophobic is a understatement. Andrews parent moved to the town in the hope of beating the gay out of their son after he was caught kissing a boy. The relationship between these young men builds very quickly and they have to hide their relationship from everyone.

This book is written beautifully, the story builds at a good pace and keeps your attention throughout. The authors writing style is very descriptive which gave me wonderful images, I could visualise this town, sub character as well as Jack and Andrew as if I was watching a movie in my own mind.

I was very surprised at just how accurate this author has described the way some young people still are treated by the community and parents due to sexuality!

Sara York has given readers two men that are beyond memorable. I am looking forward to starting the next the next book while at the same time knowing it is not going to be a easy read!
Highly Recommended!!
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on 3 August 2014
***caution, given the nature of the book reviewed, this review tackles adult subjects***

I loved this book. I must admit that I generally never read popular fiction, least of all romantic, or erotic fiction (I would imagine that this book falls somewhere between the two genres). Nonetheless, I was offered this free and could never resist a bargain...

The book is touchingly characterised and very nicely written generally. One feels for the characters terribly, particularly for the little boy, Billy, the protagonist's brother, who is a classic "sissy-boy" likes girly things and wants to be a princess.

I recognise myself in some ways in the second character, Andrew...though I had far more caring parents, there was something of a desire for them to try to persuade me out of being gay, occasionally quite stridently.

Fortunately, in England, on the whole the situation facing young gay men has changed massively since I was 18. It is simply a tragedy that this is not the case in many parts of the United States. I think Ms York has tackled the subject of growing up gay in a deeply conservative, religious family quite bravely and sensitively.

As well, being from The UK, the nature of enforced heterosexuality of parts of the USA, the homecomings the proms, and so on, is something that fascinates and confuses me. The insight into this subject was also very interesting.

A couple of niggles. The equation of anal sex with "Real sex" as opposed to the apparent half-measure of fellatio left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable. It is certainly not the case that all gay men are into anal sex, either as the active or receptive partner. Nor has anyone I have encountered thought that they were being short-changed if they only got fellatio. I wonder, should this, evidently pedagogic book, not have been careful to make this apparent.

The same might also go for the issue of cross-dressing. This is hardly an extreme pleasure, but it is by no means a very common experience for gay men, whether feminine or masculine. Of course, in this, I am being pedantic, but the nature of drag is not generally sexual. I simply think that for young boys from very conservative backgrounds, this would be a very unusual behaviour.

It should also be said that whilst very feminine and "girly" boys generally will turn out to be gay, it is by no means certain that they will retain their tendency to like "girl-things" into adulthood. This is definitely my experience.

That said, I still give this novel 5 stars. It was captivating and beautifully and very convincingly written. All the more impressive when you realise that the author is a straight woman
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on 28 July 2014
The most disturbing aspect of this story is that I suspect some aspects of the abusive bigotry it portrays is toned down. Small town southern USA with its obsession with high school sport and the church is a completely alien environment to me so at times I found I was reading the book almost as an anthropological study. It was fascinating but cushioned the horror a little. in fact I found some of the implications of the jungle that American high schools seem to be as appalling as the revolting treatment meted out to their children by some of the parents.
The protagonists are appealing. I found the accounts of Jack, still a child in many ways, trying to shoulder responsibility way beyond his years very touching. Especially his care for his young brother, Billy, who is surely headed for trouble. Jack's Henry V before Harfleur speech to his football team mates was both amusing and desperately sad. So much pressure to be 'men' and their nearest and dearest examples are weak worthless and loathsome bullies.
I didn't like the sex scenes between Jack and Andrew. There seemed to be too much detail for it to be covered by the readers' need to know what was going on, in fact enough to be erotica. To use the plight of the protagonists to tittilate the readers seemed inappropriate bearing in mind the poignancy of the subject matter.
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on 11 August 2015
Firstly I should say that I found the book ultimately a bit of a con, in that although this "novel" was free, when you reach the final page you are told that it is "to be continued" which means that the story ends abruptly and you will need to purchase further volumes to read the whole story.

If you want an easy, simplistic and slightly naive story, then you may well enjoy this. You can predict what's going to happen as it's happened in other books before it. People are either black or white, in the sense of good or bad. Situations and dialogue leave a lot to be desired, and are generally unbelievable, being a gay man, and with knowledge of Christian values and what the bible says.
Not wanting to give any of the "plot" away, and spoil the story, I found the writing unbelievably repetitive, being told the same thing over and over again, as though the characters and us the readers had never read the previous phrases. A bit like on TV programmes on ITV when they tell you at the beginning what you are about to see, then before the break what you will see next, then after the break what you have already seen, and if you edited all that out you could save yourself a lot of viewing time, or, in this case, reading time. Probably the whole story, in several parts, could be condensed into a much tauter, better read, if it was properly edited. For me, it was like an early draft of a novel, rather than the finished product that you would offer to a wider audience to read. But obviously the author did something right, as I kept going until the end, when I discovered that it was only the first segment of the story and felt cheated, and hopefully as she continues to write, she will learn her craft and with judicious editing present a story really worthy of the subject.
If you think I'm being too harsh, then read the decades old story of Billy Sive and Harlan his coach, which was so well told and emotional that I can remember it from last reading it in the 1970s or 1980s. The Front Runner. Similar conflicts and background, but chalk and cheese with this.
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on 9 September 2014
Although I usually like this kind of book, I must admit this one defeated me half way through. The idea is a really good one and I have read several similar novels. I found the characters to be too black/white - the 'good' ones were sickenly sweet while the 'bad' ones had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The sex scenes seemed awkwardly written and also stereotypical. I realised that I didn't care what happens to the characters - but by looking at the covers of the next two instalments, it's obvious. I just got bored.
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on 4 April 2016
An interesting, heart-warming story brought down by the crude, frequent sex scenes.
Jack and Andrew's story is one that contains shades of truth and reality, but doesn't stay grounded long enough to be completely believable.
The star quarterback falls in love with the quiet new kid. Only problem - they're gay in what seems like the most anti-gay place on Earth.
There is a major drawback to this book and it's the sex scenes. I'm not a prude by any means, but the sex scenes definitely come out of nowhere here and can be very graphic, often slipping into questionable writing. One the one hand though, they do feel quite apt, given our main characters are two teenage boys.
The story is littered with interesting characters, none more interesting than Jack's youngest brother Billy, who I'm delighted to see is the focus of the fourth book.
We end on a sharp, tense cliff-hanger that perhaps feels a little manipulative into getting you to buy the next book - although considering the low price, I'm not complaining too much!
Despite all the negatives, I was interested enough to buy the second book and see where the story goes.
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on 10 August 2014
Jack is a gay high school student. He also happens to be the son of a pastor ,whose views smack of typical deep-south homophobic religious bigotry. When Andrew Collins and his family move to the small rown of Sweet, Georgia, they feel a connection.

But in this case the course of true love will not run smooth; thanks to the interference of narrow minded Christian bigotry.

I was totally disgusted at the way both Jack & Andrew were treated in this book. They are both eighteen but treated like six year olds. The scenes of their emotional and sexual discovery of each other are beautifully portrayed with real feeling.
Anyone with a sense of decency and horror of injustice will really root for these guys and hope for them. I for one will definitely be reading the rest of this series in the hope that Jack & Andrew are finally able to stick two fingers up to the religious homophobic which blights their community’s life.
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on 10 June 2014
Wow. What an emotional and beautifully written story about such deep-rooted issues. This is a story of two young gay men, forced to feel shame and fear about who they are by their own families and the deeply religious southern town they live in. To live as they want to, to admit who they are would be committing the biggest 'sin' imaginable (I 'quote' sin because it is clearly absurd and wrong that someone could think that way, but unfortunately for some it is a reality) and the consequences would be dire. The struggles Andrew and Jack go through really tugged at my heart and it's not over yet for them. In fact, I have a feeling things are about to get a lot worse in book 2, which of course I bought immediately after finishing this one.

A beautiful, compelling story about forbidden love, parental abuse and trying to find your place in the world. I can't wait to read book 2.
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on 8 June 2015
A touching look at growing up gay in a very conservative setting. It manages to cover sexuality, gender, even various types of familial abuse in a teen romance novel. Definitely worth a look for any teen discovering their sexuality or looking to support a gay sibling.

My main criticism, apart from a little stupidity on the part of the main character right at the end, is that characters' internal monologues were quite repetitive. Their thoughts were generally made plain in the text and subtext and didn't need to be spelled out to us. It's not a long book, but certain parts like that could be edited down.

I felt the characters had a tendency to behave melodramatically and over-romanticise their first love, but they're teenagers after all, so that's true to life! Be warned that some of the upsetting themes continue to the end, as setup for a sequel.
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