Jamie’s life turned upside down the day his father found him dancing in his sister’s clothes. Having already endured multiple bouts of corporal punishment by his father and untold sexual abuse by the priest he was repeatedly turned over to in order to ‘confess his sins’, Jamie never thought that this time his father would not only beat him to the point where he required hospitalization, but afterward drop him miles from home and order him never to return. Homeless, destitute, and afraid, Jamie manages to find friends to live with for a while, but eventually they move on and Jamie finds himself at a terrible crossroads doing the unimaginable in order to survive. After a trick turns violent and lands Jamie in the hospital, a kind detective sends Jamie to a bar called The Nook where co-owners Daniel and Marcus will change Jamie’s life forever. But fate is not done with the young man; not only will it bring him love, but, unfortunately, also pain and loss. Now Jamie must find the inner strength his boyfriend, Butch, is so certain he has in order to go on.
This is the second novel I have read by author T.L. Travis and I feel I should begin this review by stating I do think this author has the potential to become a great storyteller. However, I must say that journey must begin with a better editor than they have at present and a keener eye for detail. Several times in this story there were either strange age gaps that made no sense, such as Jamie’s sister apparently having a child somewhere in her forties, to an abrupt change in venue, such as when he and Butch were exploring the woods around Butch’s family home and suddenly there was a gift shop in the woods where there hadn’t been one before. Alongside those issues was the way in which Jamie was suddenly well enough, after just having had the beating of his life that included several broken ribs, to be running and laughing with Butch in those same woods, to then nearly doubling over in pain just from laughing at the dinner table a few hours later. These types of discrepancies kept cropping up repeatedly in the novel.
But the most distressing problem with this book had to be the last 10-15 percent of it where we are essentially told a near complete synopsis of the previous novel, Greyson Fox, which then rapidly segues into a tour of Tuscany that felt like we were reading from a tour guide pamphlet. For those who read Greyson Fox, you might remember that he gifted Butch and Jamie a vacation to anywhere they chose. Jamie had always wanted to see Tuscany. We definitely got to learn about the beautiful Italian countryside, but rather than experience it in real time as Jamie and Butch interacted with their locale, we were ‘told’ about the best places to visit while there. It was so sterile and boring, I was just shocked that not only had the author chosen to essentially remove her characters from the final chapter of the book, but give us a veritable list of top spots to visit on your next Tuscany vacation as well. It was just such a strange way to end the story. Stranger yet was the fact that this was tacked on to a section that essentially gave away all the highlights of Greyson Fox, which either meant you would be bored to death rehashing a book you’d already read, or the novel would be completely ruined for you should you choose to read it after this one.
I was so disappointed with this novel, mainly because when Forgive Me Father began, I fell in love with poor Jamie, My heart bled for this young teen who had been basically thrown away by his uber religious parents, physically and sexually abused by priests that were meant to shield him, and cut off from the sister he loved. His story of survival, while brutal at times, was gritty but realistic, dark and yet hopeful all the same. But right around the fifty percent mark of this novel, the story began to fall apart and cracks began to show in the plot line. Inconsistency became the rule rather than the occasional problem and the story began to take on a rushed feel. So much time was spent on rehashing Greyson Fox when it could have been spent on developing the relationship between Butch and Jamie. The story started to meander off course and never regained its footing after that. I began to wonder if the author would have made a better choice ending the book at the wedding scene and thereby creating a really solid novella, rather than continue on only to have the story rapidly devolve into a mishmash of disconnected and confusing scenes that barely tied together.
Forgive Me Father was a good attempt at a story that had all the potential to be a great novel. Poor editing, confused timelines, and too many long, passively narrated sections caused this book to derail. In the future, I hope this author is able to surround themselves with a support team that will bring out the best in their writing. Until then, I am afraid their books will continue to suffer and that is really unfortunate.