Series: Keeping Secrets 01
Author: J. Roman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Novella (130pgs)
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (30th June 2012)
Heat Level: Low – Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts
Blurb: For gay teens in the South, Erwin High School is as good as it gets. The prevailing liberalism means being gay doesn’t have to be the focus of your life—which frees up seventeen-year-old Jason Strummer to take on the role of bully. Jason understands his beauty and power and has a reputation to match his attitude. No one but his best friend suspects the cruelty Jason hides behind is a ruse to keep his hellish private life out of the public eye.
Jason has only loved one boy in his life, and that crush on Tommy Johnson ended so badly that they’re no longer on speaking terms. When an ex-lover threatens Jason and Tommy steps in to help, the heartless playboy can’t help but fall a little bit back in love with him—but Jason will have to choose between keeping Tommy or his secrets.
Young Adult Age Range: 14 to 18 years old
Warning: Some scenes may cause distress.
Review: Jason is living a hellish existence in his home life, so he puts on a front at school and with his friends. He has a hard shell and doesn’t care who he hurts. But, when he is attacked by his ex-lover, Tommy steps up to the plate and rescues him and it is the start of something new between them. But, Jason once humiliated Tommy; can they really forgive and forget? And can Jason admit his secrets and become the person Tommy thinks he can be?
This is quite a hard-hitting story, that has your emotions swinging with desperation to save Jason and to beat the crap out of his mother and kill his step-father, and yes there are also times you want to smack sense into Jason. But, when you fully understand what he has gone through and is still going through you can empathize with his actions. I can only read this book as a mother, but I am sure there are some of you out there that will see it from different perspectives. For me I was sick to the stomach for poor Jason, for what he was going through and for what his mother knew he was going through.
Jason hits out at people before they can do it to him, in retaliation for an offense and so people don’t see the real him. This means he comes across as shallow and self-centered. It takes Tommy to begin to get through to Jason that he doesn’t have to be that person, that he can be less defensive and that there are people who will help him. Tommy and Jason have some touching moments and they are wonderful together, they both secretly loved the other when they were younger, but, a careless word from Tommy hurt Jason more than he thought possible and so he enacted his revenge.
This is a sweet love story that is angsty, with a lot of emotional upheaval for these teenagers. Tommy and Jason have their misunderstandings, but they are at the beginning of their new relationship and at a new juncture in Jason’s life. Jason has had a lot to live with and hide, he has his reasons for how he acts but it isn’t always easy to forgive his actions. Tommy has lived through his humiliation and come out the other side, now he wants another chance with Jason.
I will recommend this to those who love young adult stories that are as hard-hitting as they are sweet with young love, for those who can see past the surface mask to the hurting boy underneath, who want a happily ever after and a new start for two young men.