Rating: 4.5 stars
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Sean and Austin seem to have the perfect life. They’ve taken steps to cement their new relationship by purchasing a new house so that Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, has a place with them. Then their perfect world is shattered when Sean’s ex-wife calls to say that Jason is missing.
When Jason shows up a few days later, horribly abused and incapable of speaking of the horrors he went through, Sean and Austin find people beginning to point fingers at them because in a small town where small minds perpetuate, only a gay man could have done such a horrific thing.
As Sean and Austin struggle to maintain their relationship with the innuendo and threats of Sean losing visitation, Sean makes a bold decision to save his son from the real villain who is much closer to home.
This is not a romance…repeat, this is NOT a romance. This story may feature a gay couple, but it is not a romance story. It contains subject matter that some readers may have issues with. These include child molestation, child abuse, and kidnapping.
Sean and Austin are the perfect couple. Though Sean is older than Austin, Austin is his perfect mate. They share the same interests, the same sense of humor, and a satisfying sex life. When they both take the day off of work to spend together, they are not expecting their glorious day together to turn into their worst nightmare. When Sean’s ex-wife, Shelley, calls to tell him Jason is missing, their world and their life together goes into a downward spiral. Starting with Austin being left out when it comes to searching for the missing child.
Shelley is still bitter over the fact that her husband came out as being gay – despite the fact that she has remarried. She fought hard in their divorce to minimize his visitations with their son. Sean never gave up, and worked hard to create a loving household for Jason to visit. While Shelley may have softened a bit when it comes to sharing parenting with Sean, she wants nothing to do with Austin. So when she calls Sean about Jason, she tells him that she doesn’t want Austin around.
Though their divorce pretty much killed any affection they had for one another, Sean and Shelley find themselves needing to cling to one another in the days that follow the kidnapping. During this time, Shelley finds herself realizing that Sean is not the monster she thought he was when he came out as being gay. So when Jason shows up beaten and sexually abused, Shelley finds herself defending Sean to those who are ready to convict him without any evidence. Then a second tragedy ensues when Shelley is involved in a serious car accident that leaves her incapable of caring for Jason. Sean and Austin find themselves, once again, on the outside looking in. Then Sean makes a bold decision, one that could land him in prison.
While initially I didn’t like Shelley because she sought to exclude Austin from being with her son, I liked how she was willing to stand up for Sean and Austin when it really mattered. Her hurt and anger over her failed relationship with Sean seemed genuine.
What I especially liked about this story was that it wasn’t just “gay” people that the townspeople were quick to accuse. Junior Parsons, the man who found Jason, finds himself being accused of committing the horrendous acts upon the child – not only because he found the child, but because of who and what he was. At times, I found myself so angry at how he was being treated.
Another thing I really liked about this story was that the POV changed. So as a reader, I got to get inside the head of the different characters. This really helped me to empathize with Shelley, who I didn’t like at all in the beginning.
Unlike most stories where you don’t know who the villain is, in this book, we find out fairly quickly who is repsonsible and are able to get into his mind. On one hand, I was disappointed because I would have liked it to be a secret; on the other hand, the revelation of who the culprit was and watching him/her try to cover their tracks made for a much better story.
I have two complaints about this book. The first was the whole issue of [spoiler] Sean kidnapping his own child to keep him safe from the villain and Shelley telling the police that she doesn’t want him arrested. While it made for a great story, it really doesn’t work like that in real life. Parental kidnapping is parental kidnapping. You break the law, there are consequences. While a judge may dismiss the charges based on the circumstances, the police don’t get a say in whether he is arrested or not. Once charged are brought against a subject, they have to be dismissed by a court of law. Most people wouldn’t see this as a problem, but for me, it’s all in the details. [/spoiler]
The second complaint was that I would have liked to have seen something more between Austin and Sean at the end. I kind of felt that Austin just fell by the wayside in this story with everything going on, yet he is there at the end ready, willing, and able to forgive Sean for essentially abandoning him. So, for me, I would have liked to have seen an epilogue where Sean and Austin have dealt with the issue of Austin being less important to Sean than Jason. I know, this wasn’t a romance story, but still…I needed to know that Austin wasn’t the only one fighting for this relationship.
Overall, this was a great suspense story that will give you the chills! This is real life horror where the villain is hiding in plain sight. Great story, I highly recommend!
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.