Rating: 4.5 stars
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It’s been twenty years since Bishop was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. After two decades in prison, part of that time on death row, Bishop has been exonerated and released. When Anson took a new job as a prison guard, both of their lives were changed and Anson worked tirelessly to get Bishop released. But, while Bishop is now physically free, he has come back into a world that he barely recognizes and that makes little sense.
Anson wants Bishop to move forward and he wants them to move forward together, but Bishop never had the opportunity to explore his sexuality and doesn’t know where to begin. He has also walked out into a world that has gotten itself in a hurry and trying to learn technology and the world around him, while terrified to leave the house, is a bigger challenge than either Bishop or Anson was prepared for. When Bishop starts to question whether he would have been better off left on the inside, Anson will have to show him that their life and their love is worth it.
Outside follows Inside, and the books should be read in order. At the end of Inside, Bishop was exonerated and Outside picks up shortly after his release from prison. Author Nicky James does an amazing job of showing Bishop’s first-person narrative as he tries to acclimate to the world outside of prison. But after 20 years incarcerated, he’s institutionalized and living free is not the dream he envisioned. Bishop does not recognize the world around him; his face is all over the news in their small town and living with Anson, as well as facing homophobia, adds another layer of anxiety that Bishop has to manage. He wants to be with Anson, but that’s just another thing he doesn’t know how to do.
James also shows how there are limited resources for the wrongly accused who have been freed. Bishop is given no resources and no support and, while he has Anson, Anson struggles to fully comprehend all that Bishop is going through. Woven into the tale of Bishop acclimating to the outside world is the love story that the men are building. This is a heavier story as the men have many issues to deal with while their relationship is completely new as well.
After all the turmoil the men have gone through, they certainly deserved a happy ending, but the conclusion came together a little too quickly and a little too easily for me. The writing is strong here and the emotions are intense and fans of second chances in life after unjust circumstances could look to pick up this duology.
This series certainly has an unusual premise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michelle.