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.
4.5 “Leaving to Love” Stars!
Wow, my first M-M romance and what a treat it was! When I read the blurb indicating that this story combined this new to me subgenre with a polygamist cult background, I was greatly intrigued, so I decided to jump right in to discover a whole new world of love. Thank you Ms. Bowen for writing an intense, complex, and sensual romance that has now made me want to explore more of this romance subgenre!
Caleb and Josh grew up in a polygamist cult. They had been friends since they were kids, and Caleb, who came from a more prominent family and had certain advantages as a result of being a child of a first wife, many of which we take for granted (like a birth certificate and drivers’ license) enjoyed certain privileges that were never available to Josh. Josh not only never had the luxury of these privileges but he also often suffered at the hands of the men in the cult who viewed him as weak and didn’t miss an opportunity to put him down. Josh was always also relegated to the less desirable jobs. However, the one bright spot in Josh’s life was Caleb, who no matter what, always watched out for Josh and protected him.
Josh had always been infatuated with Caleb but did his best to hide his feelings, knowing it was against his religion and everything they had been taught in the cult (which was nicknamed Paradise, but was anything but that, particularly for Josh). In fact, Josh was convinced that Caleb wanted to marry Miriam, another childhood friend who had not made a secret of her interest in Caleb.
One of the dirty little secrets of Paradise was that in order to maintain the polygamist desirable ratio (which would allow for certain men to take multiple wives) some of the sons had to be kicked out (usually based on trumped up charges). When it becomes clear to Caleb that Josh is likely to be the next forgotten son to be thrown out, Caleb decides to take matters into his own hands and puts in place an escape plan with Josh.
With the fruition of this escape plan begins the beginning of their new lives where the two men must confront, not only the differences of life outside of Paradise (which includes many things that we normally take for granted, like Christmas cards and soda) but also, their undeniable feelings for one another. However for two people who have been essentially programmed since their birth to believe their feelings were unnatural–addressing those feelings and determining whether to pursue their HEA is definitely anything but certain. Will Josh and Caleb find their HEA along with their newfound freedom outside of Paradise?
All in all, I really enjoyed Goodbye Paradise was rooting for this couple who had been through so much to finally find their real “paradise.”
Source: Review copy provided for review purposes.
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