Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: Forsaken by J.R. Gray

forsakenTitle ~ Forsaken

Author ~ J.R. Gray 

Published ~ 26th February 2018

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance 





Titus had lived and breathed religion his entire life, tucked away from the rest of the world in a compound in northern Wyoming. He’s destined to be the next leader of the church, deemed so by the Prophet.

God spoke and with His word He created. But God made a mistake. Titus isn’t worthy. He was born sick and it’s solidified when he rescues the most beautiful man he’s ever seen.

Torn between fidelity to his faith or his soul, Titus must reconcile the two parts of himself before he’s discovered hiding among the chosen.


Debra’s Review

In a story that could have been full of angst, this is more a book about accepting yourself and having the strength to do what you need to live the life that is best for you.

When Titus, who has grown up as the heir to the Prophet (his grandfather) on an insular compound of a Wyoming cult, finds a beaten man on the side of the road, the decision he makes to help changes his life in an instant. The battered man appropriately named Angel, not only looks like one, but certainly must be a sign from God to Titus. He brings Angel back to the compound with the intention of getting him cleaned up and driving him to civilization, but soon that intention quickly changes.

Angel has misgivings about Titus, but has little choice and agrees to go with him. The two quickly open up to each other and he finds himself feeling bad for Titus and offering to help him. Angel is such a good soul. Although he has been betrayed by the last man he trusted with his heart, he can't help but want to help save Titus from the destiny set out for him and as much as he knows it can't possibly end well, he can’t help but fall for Titus.

Not unexpectedly, Titus seems to be oblivious to much of what’s really happening at the compound, but he is in tune with his own feelings that he is somehow wrong, broken, not fit for what he is told he is meant to be – the next Prophet. He feels like he doesn't belong there, he just really doesn't know what to do about it. He's been silently rebelling in small ways, but is resigned to fulfilling his role.

I’ve read stories dealing with cults before and one thing I always find is there is that underlying feeling of dread and the knowledge of the threat that looms over them for any perceived infraction or attempt to leave. I didn’t really get that here until very late in the story. Titus is not confined to the property. In fact much of the story takes place outside of the compound. He seems to have a lot of freedom when he routinely drives to Denver and other areas to do outreach and selling his furniture. Reading is encouraged, there is no television or internet, but he does have a cell phone. The few days Angel spends at the compound, there is very little interaction with any other members and I felt that I didn’t get a real feel for what life was like there. I would have liked to have seen more interaction with the Prophet earlier in the story. It’s only through Angel’s gut instinct after his very brief observation and off-page conversation with the Prophet that we know he feels there is something wrong. We also don’t meet Titus’ family until later in the book. His brother, Paul, is a wonderful character whose story left me with so many questions in the end. Unfortunately the rest of Titus’ family leave much to be desired.

In some respects Titus seems so na├»ve and in others, he isn’t and sometimes this felt odd. He is very well-read and there seems to be no real rhyme or reason to what he is aware of and what he is not. Angel's life and what he describes to Titus about being gay - a word Titus didn't have for what he knew he was - is a revelation he desperately wants to believe.

There were times where musings and questions got repetitive. I liked the trust the two men built with each other, though I thought Titus jumped into some physical aspects of the relationship rather quickly and without question. Angel’s background was vague, we know he had issues with his last relationship that broke his trust and led to him leaving his life behind and I was left wondering about that as well.

The story is not preachy. It’s mostly about Titus building a relationship with Angel and deciding what life he is going to live and how he can do it. His personal relationship with God has always been different than what the Prophet and his interpretation of religion told Titus it should be and after meeting Angel he is no longer certain what is right and wrong.

The tension does ratchet up in the last part of the book when Titus has his eyes opened and realizes that he cannot stay at the compound but struggles with leaving his brother and the only life he has known. This part of the story had me on the edge of my seat wondering just how things would work out.

This was a good story, though uneven at times and with a lighter than I expected based on the subject matter. I liked all of the characters and their different outlooks. The ending is HFN and I was glad to see mention of counselling. I was left with some questions about events in the story, but as far as Titus and Angel went, I was satisfied where we left them.

Purchase Link



Meet J.R. Gray

When not staying up all night writing, J.R. Gray can be found at the gym where it's half assumed he is a permanent resident to fulfill his self-inflicted masochism. A dominant and a pilot, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. He frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns and conversations, to jot down notes or plot bunnies. Commas are the bane of his existence even though it's been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder. If Gray wasn't writing…well, that's not possible. The buildup of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave, insanity or both. The idea of haunting has always appealed to him. J.R. Gray is genderqueer and prefers he/him pronouns.



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