Reviewed by Susan65
Author: Sloane Kennedy
Series: The Protectors #11
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 308 Pages
Publisher: Sloane Kennedy
Release Date: December 14, 2017
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: I failed Caleb once because I was a coward. And he ended up paying the price.
Ten years of war and the loss of nearly his entire family have left thirty-four-year-old former sniper, Jace Christenson, with nothing to come home to. And he prefers it that way. Life consists of his work in an underground vigilante group, the near-constant search for the last remaining link to who he used to be, and a string of meaningless sexual encounters that serve only one purpose… to make it easier to not feel anything anymore.
But when Jace gets the call that the young man he saved two years earlier has gone missing, he’s forced to deal with the truth he’s been trying to deny from the moment he laid eyes on Caleb Cortano.
That the young man is so very much more than just the exception to all his rules…
You know how if something shatters when it breaks, there’s no way to find all the pieces to put it back like it once was? Maybe sometimes it’s better not to even try…
Nineteen-year-old Caleb Cortano has been barely hanging onto his sanity in the two years since the truth about his father’s depravities came to light. A victim of the man’s crimes himself, Caleb has only managed to find any semblance of peace when he’s in the presence of the man who saved him once before.
But when he finally comes to accept that Jace Christenson wants nothing to do with someone who’s shattered beyond repair, Caleb finds another way to seek solace from the pain inside.
As the fear of being reunited with the father he both fears and misses becomes more and more likely, desperation has Caleb doing something foolish that brings him face to face with the only man he’s ever wanted… but who doesn’t want him back.
Caleb stays with me until we get some answers… just me…
When Caleb’s life is threatened, Jace refuses to walk away a second time. Even if protecting Caleb means he’s risking his own heart, Jace isn’t going anywhere. At least not until he can put some of the missing pieces of Caleb’s life back together.
But will Caleb be able to do the same for the equally broken Jace?
Will two shattered men be able to find all the missing pieces to be who they were truly meant to, or is Caleb right? Some things just aren’t worth trying to fix…
Review: First off, what an extremely difficult subject matter this story covers. Child sexual abuse by a parent is so taboo, but Sloane Kennedy did a fantastic job of handling this intensely egregious act of horror. I think the fact the topic was so well done, I was more easily able to overlook the age difference between Caleb (19) and Jace (34). Normally, the ick factor would be sky high, but in this case, Caleb needed a man who made him feel safe and loved. Although on the surface, Jace was the complete opposite of what Caleb should want, he was what Caleb needed and Caleb was who Jace needed, as well. I got past the age difference on this one, even though I do believe Caleb had a bit of hero worship going on, and that was not very healthy, but at least Jace walked away when he was 17. If that didn’t happen, I doubt I could have read it.
Caleb is truly a broken man/boy. He has been used, abused, and failed miserably by any authority figure in life, and his father. No child should have their world ripped asunder as awfully as Caleb’s was. You meet him in an earlier installment when Jace rescues him from a mental facility. Truly, Caleb’s father is the epitome of evil incarnate. Ugh, he deserved everything he got, but too bad he didn’t get it sooner. What a truly awful, soulless man. Disgusting.
Jace is drawn to Caleb and feels an overwhelming sense of guilt for initially walking away. But what else could he do? Caleb was a sex abuse survivor and a kid, and Jace was a man who used other men, aggressively, to get off. These two were oil and water….but Caleb needed Jace, and Jace…well, Jace was willing to change for him. He just needed time and he needed to deal with his own family issues, namely his sister disappearance, first.
There are many terrible scenes the reader needs to get past, but in the end, your heart rejoices for the man that Caleb has become. He will always be mentally tormented by his past, but with Jace and his family, he found the strength to move on. Yes, this story is one of horrible acts, but the underlying theme was moving on and overcoming. Caleb and Eli are both success stories, and that is all because of the men that believed in them.
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.*