This book…wow I cannot say enough. I’ve read everything Stone has written, and loved it. Stone is an incredibly talented author — the kind you drop everything for when a new book comes along — but this story is a level above.
It’s clear that this particular topic is very, very close to her heart. Her passion and fight here rings throughout. Adam’s torment, his confusion, his disconnect from faith and the longing he won’t allow himself to feel is so rich, I ached for him. The development of his and Brandon’s love unfolds gorgeously, painfully, so very honestly.
The moment when Brandon shares the questions he has with his faith and how this unlocks Adam’s anxieties but also wonder is powerful as hell. All of the things Adam has locked down, all of his beautiful self that’s been crushed out of him — watching them rise to the surface is like watching someone come awake. It really felt like an honor to be a part of that story.
I must say, there’s such a lovely reverence in Brandon’s practice of faith here. In the idea of living a devotion and faith that involves questioning and wanting to learn and wanting to be open to possibilities. I’m agnostic personally, and I am not familiar with Mormon faith other than surface things, but I really love books and stories that handle faith beautifully, even if it means questioning, changing direction, or struggle.
This book is very sensual and the build of tension between Brandon and Adam felt visceral. I DEVOURED this book in one sitting because I was so captured by their story.
There are so many things to love about this book. The prose is just beautiful. Stone has a gift for creating a rich backdrop for her stories so that the whole experience feels well loved and well rounded. I always learn from her stories. The level of detail and obvious commitment to research make this story shine and are a testament to how very much Stone cares for her craft.
Now let’s talk about what she crafted. Renaldo’s family is EVERYTHING. They made me miss my family so much. The love and care they have for each other was so palpable. Even when both Renaldo and Hank were terrified of what would happen, as a reader, I trusted that Renaldo’s family would love him unconditionally.
Renaldo…oh lord. What a sensual and romantic man. I wish I had a man in my life who spoke to me like he does to Hank.
And HANK. Oh man do I have a sweet spot for complicated, lovely men. His reserve, initially, spoke so well to his vulnerabilities without Stone every having to state them. She showed us. And as the story unfolds, watching Hank unfold, demonstrating how sweet he is, how much he needs and wants love…UGH. MY HEART. His commitment to being an honest and upstanding man was really moving as well.