It’s tough enough facing life as an ex-con but when you have the added burden of blaming yourself for your mother’s disabling accident after the father you love passes away while you’re in prison, there is no way you can ever escape the guilt you carry with you every day. Now despite getting his GED and being in his senior year in college, Justin Molina has little but regret in his life. Carrying three jobs in order to survive and help his wheelchair bound mother, he struggles with seeing past the stupid mistakes that caused him prison time and wrecked his life. On top of all that, he is stuck in a poetry writing class that will satisfy a humanities requirement but has little to do with his major. If it weren’t for the hot Professor Harding who teaches the class, it would be a total waste.
Foster Harding has lived a very safe and orderly life. Despite the economic ease he had growing up, he was born to older parents who never really wanted children and, as a result, his has been a privileged but lonely life. He made the mistake of marrying a younger woman who never accepted Foster for who he was and their relationship ended up in divorce. Having just received the final papers, Foster is sure he will never find love nor does he think he’s actually worthy of doing so, anyway. With a new class of wannabe poets in front of him, one student in particular catches his attention. Foster can hear such raw emotion in Justin Molina’s poetry and it hints that a much more fragile man lay beneath the tattooed and tough boy exterior. Everything inside Foster seems to be drawn to the younger man but two problems keep him from pursuing the guy—first, he is a student in his class and secondly, Foster isn’t bisexual…or so he’s convinced himself.
Felice Stevens has released an incredibly tender and moving romance novel entitled Broken Silence. Complete with several passages of original poetry that are both heart-wrenching in their painful honesty and, later, so very sweet in their expression, the story is told from a dual point of view with Foster and Justin alternating when narrating the chapters in the story. As such, you really get a clear understanding of every foible and misguided belief these two men have about themselves and their self-worth. These feelings set the stage for a romance that is fraught with misunderstanding and doubt.
Justin and Foster both come from a place of self-loathing. Despite having served his time, Justin continues to beat himself up over getting caught trying to steal merchandise he needed to sell in order to score pot for his ailing father to use for pain management. While in prison his father dies and his mother is a victim of a freak accident leaving her unable to walk. The around the clock nursing care, medications and physical therapy all cost a lot of money—something Justin is determined to provide. Despite his mother assuring him that he has nothing to blame himself for, Justin is wracked with a guilt that causes him to doubt everything he does and makes him his own worst enemy.
Foster has never really experienced a nurturing kind of love—either from his parents or his ex-wife. Born to aloof parents who left him to his own devices far too often and then marrying a woman who had more affection for Foster’s money than him, he has never really felt loved. Now in his forties and newly divorced, he lives a solitary life despite his best friend encouraging him to get out and live a little. When Justin and Foster collide, doors that have been kept closed for far too long suddenly swing wide open and the two find themselves fighting off an attraction they both know can only end badly. But the heart wants what it wants and before long these two are diving headfirst into a relationship that they struggle to define and must keep hidden from the world.
This novel has a little bit of everything—a coming out moment for Foster, an age gap romance that is so well done and an incredibly tender love story that takes no short cuts but faces each obstacle thrown in its path head on. Broken Silence is a poignant rebirth of two men who have had the worst of circumstances thrown at them and not only survive it but, together, manage to thrive.