Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and 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.

* Note:  This book was provided to The Book Hookup by the author via her publicist but that did not in any way influence this review!

Oh, Sarina Bowen, you’ve done it again. You’ve written a book that is so painfully sweet, heartbreakingly powerful, and yet so incredibly innocent, that it touched my very soul.  You took me to a world that I knew a little about and pulled back the curtains, showing me how it imprints itself on its inhabitants and molds their view of what’s right and what’s wrong…even long after they leave it.  You made me feel for these characters immediately and had me willing to fight to defend them.

Book Rating Breakdown
Writing
Characters
Plot
General Book Feels
Dirty Talk Ability
Degree my heart was ripped out
Angst Me So Good
Overall:

I adored Caleb’s straightforwardness and strength. I loved his protective nature and his desire to do right by all.  And, of course, I couldn’t get enough of his devotion to Josh and his willingness to take things slowly for him.  My heart fluttered as I watched Josh come into himself…as I watched him learn what this new world was like, and let go of the expectations that his old existence placed upon him.  I loved his silent strength, his willingness to fight for what he wanted, and his ability to put himself in unknown and uncomfortable situations if necessary.  But mostly, I was amazed by his exuberance as he learned that his feelings, wants, and needs we absolutely normal.  And, of course, I loved his unshakable love for Caleb.  The chemistry between these two was undeniable.  That might have been because they were lifelong friends, or maybe because they were taught that their love was a sin…but I think it was because they were absolutely perfect for each other.

This book was a wonderful journey. It was a story that didn’t dwell on the negative nor did it wallow in the past.  These characters always looked to move forward and live the life that had been denied them.  It was a story of exploration and of love.  I must also add that it was a breath of fresh air to have secondary characters that I enjoyed as much as the main ones.  Each had depth and contributed greatly to the story.  I could have happily stayed with them for a thousand more pages.

Thank you, Sarina, for giving me a story without tiresome drama or unnecessary angst…thank you for focusing on the pleasures, the struggles, and the overwhelming joys of being accepted and loved for who you are.  I look forward to seeing what you’ve got planned for me next!

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