The hardest battle is the fight to be yourself….
Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy–a cocky sports fan capable of drinking more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy–a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.
Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography–documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.
When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through–coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.
Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.
Reader Advisory: Out of the Shade is a standalone novel with an HEA that carries the following warnings–alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting.
Labor of love.
This story was painful yet rewarding. From the final note, I gather this story wasn’t easy to write. In all honesty, it wasn’t easy to read either.
It pulled all sorts of emotions from me; frustration, anger, and disappointment.
It was dark and cloudy…then suddenly a horrible storm blew me away.
I was inching towards a book tantrum, but thankfully I regained control.
Why? Because buds of hope began to blossom. Slowly but surely the course shifted. Change can be beautiful. Jesse’s transformation was radiant. I was overjoyed and bubbling with glee, while deep-seated contentment settled into my bones. I was touched with the sincerity.
My eyes welled and my heart lifted. It was remarkable.
This journey hurt but before long, tender gestures soothed the sting. Am I glad I pushed through and fought along with them? Yeah. Yeah, I am. Jesse and Chuck discover love can be painful, it can take patience as well as insurmountable effort. But at the end of the road, there’s no greater joy than being loved straight through to your core. When someone truly loves you, scars (internal and inked) and all, you should hold tight and never let them go. Jesse wanted Chuck with every cell in his body but he knew he had to love himself first. This turned out to be a much bigger challenge than he anticipated. How can you love yourself when you can’t accept yourself? How can you be true to others, when you hide in the shadows? Denial can be a suffocating beast. Jesse began to patch one affliction with another and soon, he was drowning in a sea of self-inflicted pain. Turns out Jesse may have been born a fighter, but the most tenacious battle has been with himself. The taste of victory is sweet but sharing it with his heart’s greatest desire is the ultimate reward. Charles, Chuck, Chuckie….whatever you call him, I adored him. I quickly fell for him and could easily see why Jesse did too. Neither are perfect, their relationship is far from it. Yet, they were utterly and completely perfect for one another.
There are triggers aplenty, separations, and a lengthy list of distressing moments. And yet, again, I still consider it a worthy journey. Kind of a, ‘read at your own risk’ book but it’s a wager I’m grateful I took.
A vested reader. Patience is key. Just do me a favor, please? If you start, give them a chance and don’t give up on them. Trust me, there is forgiveness, rebirth, and redemption.
TITLE: Out of the Shade
AUTHOR: S.A. McAuley
LENGTH: 368 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 21, 2019
BUY LINKS: Amazon