Release Day Reviews ~ Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen
Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh & Caleb called it home.
In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.
But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.
It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.
Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.
Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?
Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord's name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone. For more about its previous publication, you can read this blog post.
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Josh and Caleb have spent everyday together since they were just toddlers. They are best friends, growing up on a religious compound where only the strong survive to get their first wife (yes, I said FIRST, as most eventually take more than one, since they are a polygamist cult). They spend their days working the fields of the Compound and studying the bible. When Josh is tossed out at the bus station with just $50.00, he waits for Caleb, who plans to run away to join him.
The boys hitchhike across county to get to a friend that has already escaped the Compound. Along the way, Josh discovers the attraction and love he feels for Caleb is mutual, even though life isn't always easy, they pledge their love to one another and vow to stick it out together.
Even after they escape and finally make it to safety, life isn't easy. They not only have to learn to live in the real world and get jobs, but they have to hide their love. They have been taught for years that what they feel for one another is an abomination and a sin. We watch them struggle with the choice to come out or stay closeted.
This was such and interesting storyline. The topic is something I have never read about and it was so interesting to watch Josh discover things he had never had/done before. It was truly fascinating to watch. You don't realize the things in the modern world you take for granted. I couldn't imagine being 19, and never having tried Coke or coffee. To never have watched a TV show, or seen a TV for that matter! To not know what a McDonald's is!
This was an amazing story. This book drew me in and held me captivated. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down!! I loved the author's writing style. I was never once bored or found myself skimming. I sucked up every word and when it was over, I was looking for more.
Josh and Caleb have an amazing chemistry. The sex was hot, but sweet and also somewhat innocent, as well. I loved watching them get to learn about one another's bodies together. I felt the love between Josh and Caleb coming off the pages of this book. This story took me on a true emotional roller coaster. I was happy to see, even though the book ended well that Caleb and Josh's story isn't over yet. I am going to anxiously await the next leg of their journey!
I saw some really bad reviews for this book back when it first came out. While I agree with some of the reviewers' points (it could have been much more angsty, and probably could have had a little more feeling and passion from and between the main characters, and yes, it could have taken them longer, and been more difficult to adjust to a normal life outside of the compound). While all the above is true, I chose not to pick this book apart, because I sincerely enjoyed it. It definitely doesn't deserve some of the 2 and 3 star ratings it received, in my opinion.
I can't wait for more!!
*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement.*
I stayed up until after 5am on Saturday reading this book, I just couldn’t put it down!
Josh and Caleb have lived inside a cult all their lives and while Josh is sure his best friend and secret crush, Caleb, will have a good life no matter what, he’s not too sure he’s not going to be tossed out anytime now that he’s twenty. Caleb has a plan, though, but things escalate faster than he imagined and he’s not exactly ready when the elders decide to throw Josh out. Now, he has to find Josh and together try to forge a life out of Paradise.
I really liked Caleb, there were a few instances in which his misplaced sense of duty and responsibility made me want to strangle/slap some sense into him, but other than that, I loved that he had most things figured out by the time he ran away from the cult. I loved Josh so much. He was such a sweet, innocent boy. While he and Caleb were the same age, Caleb seemed the more mature of the two, perhaps because Caleb had a higher standing in the cult they lived in, so he got to experience more things than Josh. Still, it was lovely seeing Josh discover all the things he’d missed out on and find his way in the world. I adored seeing him grow a backbone there in the end, too, even if the events leading to that made me cry when my heart broke right along with his and let me tell you, trying to stifle my sobs at 3:30am wasn’t an easy task! I love the chemistry between them, they were really hot together and even if they were young, they seemed to have the kind of love that lasts a lifetime.
I loved Washington and the fact that Sarina Bowen managed to keep him connected with the boys in such a clever way! I also loved Maggie, Daniel and little Chloe, who was so adorable! I have to admit I wasn’t too fond of Miriam, but that was more because I had some issues with that last storyline than anything else.
All in all, this was a fantastic read! I’m a huge Sarina Bowen fan since I read The Understatement of the Year and I’ve pretty much read anything she’s written since, MM or MF, so I knew I was going to love this book. The writing, the pacing and the progression, and above all, the characters were outstanding! I was completely swept away as I followed Josh and Caleb’s journey and the difficulties the boys encountered out in the real world. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and finding out what Sarina has in store for us then!
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***
Josh and Caleb have been best friends their entire lives. Growing up in a polygamist cult and kept far from society Josh fears that he'll be one of the men tossed from their community and never heard from again. After all, unlike Caleb, Josh isn't a strong worker, well-liked or connected to the community hierarchy. Hopefully, no one will figure out Josh harbors a secret love for Caleb.
When it becomes apparent Josh's fears have come true and he'll be tossed out like trash, he's surprised that Caleb seems to have a plan. Caleb leaving with him never occurred to him and he has no idea why Caleb would do it. The two men have nothing more than a backpack between them but Caleb is determined to get them to safety in Massachusetts, Josh will just have to trust him.
I really enjoyed this story. It's always hard reading about young men and women tossed out by family, especially for their sexual orientation or any asinine reason one can come up with. Add in a cult in which men think they can fool people into believing God would actually want something so vile and disgusting and my heart breaks. Luckily, this book isn't one that dives too much into the darkness and instead focuses on Josh and Caleb and life away from it all. Adapting to the world they've been kept from and learning how to be a real couple.
I really liked Josh but there were times I felt as if he was too sweet and that was an easy excuse for Caleb to run roughshod over him a bit. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Caleb but there is a point in the story where he really angered me and made me want to wring his neck. He tends to think he's the only one who has the answers and tries to play the martyr when he shouldn't. He needs to take more time to sit and discuss things with Josh, include him in their life decisions. I'm glad Josh seemed to grow a backbone and stand up for himself and show that he had a good head on his shoulders.
Together they were sweet and you could tell they truly loved one another. They were young and had some growing up to do especially now that they were free, however, they seem to be devoted to one another.
Overall, I really enjoyed Goodbye Paradise and would definitely recommend it!
***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.***