Author ~ Leta Blake
Publisher ~ Leta Blake Books
Published ~ 16th September 2016
Genre ~ New Adult, M/M, Coming of Age
Growing up gay isn’t easy. Growing up gay in Knoxville, Tennessee is even harder.
Eighteen-year-old Peter Mandel, a private school senior—class of 1991—is passionate about photography. Peter doesn’t have many friends, preferring to shoot pictures from behind the scenes to keep his homosexuality secret.
Enter Adam Algedi, a charming, worldly new guy who doesn't do labels, but does want to do Peter. Hardly able to believe gorgeous Adam would want geeky, skinny him of all people, Peter's swept away on a journey of first love and sexual discovery. But as their mutual web of lies spins tighter and tighter, can Peter find the confidence he needs to make the right choices? And will his crush on Daniel, a college acquaintance, open a new path?
Join Peter in the first book of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.
This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements.
Book 1 of 4.
Length: 100,000 words, 328 pages
These books contain aspects of: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.
I’m going to preface this review by saying my 5* rating for this book will not match everyone’s idea of what constitutes a 5* read. This book is more a coming of age book than an out and out romance and it has angst by the bucket load. It is the first in a new 4 part series centring on a young man, Peter Mandel. The 4 books will follow his life and so we will be taken on a journey by the author. This first book focuses on his last year at school and all of the trials, tribulations and heartbreak that come with this journey of self discovery. It is not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination and I spent most of the time with my stomach in knots, feeling sick and trying desperately not to cry. Not the best advert for a book, I agree, but the writing is so evocative and the feelings so real, you cannot do anything but empathise with Peter and go along for the ride.
Peter changes schools to a private school for his last year for bullying reasons. He’s eighteen and a very keen photographer and on initial inspection seems to have very apathetic parents. On orientation day he meets brother and sister Adam and Sarah, I immediately adored Adam for even just speaking to Peter and disliked Sarah because of her prickly attitude. My opinions of them changing somewhat throughout the book. Peter and Adam hit it off from the start and thus begins a tumultuous relationship which is the mainstay of this story. At times it is very sweet, the friendship, flirting and first forays into a sexual relationship, but for the most part I wanted to scream at people and shake some sense in to them. Not just at Peter and Adam either. For this, the author needs some congratulations as she captures the early teenage relationships so well.
The hierarchy at the new school and Sarah’s attempts to get them to the highest echelon of the school society, grated on me. It served to reinforce all of those cliques and stereotypes that were typical of a lot of schools at that time. This led to more complicated situations and at this point I was comparing the story to The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, with all of the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up.
Photography is a major theme of this book and Peter is never far away from his camera. He uses it to try to understand the world around him, his emotions and the feelings and motives of Adam. He uses it to document, but ultimately escape from his life which he feels is closing in around him. He is constantly examining his life choices but is ultimately drawn to Adam, and he to him in a way that leaves your heart aching for the both of them.
This book is set in the 1990’s and the soundtrack played out in this story resonated a lot with me as it was the songs I was listening to at the exact same time. Maybe, because I can remember my thoughts and feelings at that time, the music being especially reminiscent, that this book struck me so hard. Don’t get me wrong, we’re talking Amy Lane’s Locker Room amounts of angst, but we’re also growing and experiencing with Peter, Adam and the others. I was gripped by Peter’s story and ultimately Peter himself who I just wanted to hug so hard. I read it in one sitting as I was so desperate to see if there was any resolution per se at the end of the book, but we’re more left with a where does he go from here question? I for one cannot wait for the next instalment, however, if angst isn’t your thing but a journey is, maybe read after all 4 books have been published as the author does promise an eventual HEA.
Meet Leta Blake
Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake's educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family. You can find out more about her by following her online: