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Mostly Cross Posts from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

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Budding Love
Adara O’Hare
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Vanessa North
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The Hell You Say - Josh Lanyon

Utterly riveting and fantastic. I loved the entire series, but this is the book that had the greatest impact on me.

Spoilers: fairly early in the book, Jake informs Adrien that his girlfriend is pregnant. The news is shattering enough at the time, a bitter reminder of something that Adrien and the reader have allowed themselves to forget because of our affection for Jake Riordan. But Kate exists: through no fault of her own, she has been, to borrow Lanyon’s metaphor, a silent cancer, and in this volume the disease finally blooms into stage-four destructiveness. It is a measure of my investment with these characters that I found myself divided between numb horror and agonized heartbreak when Jake tells Adrien he’s getting married. Lanyon’s writing here is gut-wrenching:

He was right. I knew the score. He’d never pretended it was other than it was--whatever the hell that was. I’d never kidded myself there was any chance for us. Well, not often anyway.
I guess my mistake had been in believing he was too smart and too honest not to eventually realize…
Not his feelings for me--because I didn’t think what he felt for me was that significant--but his own true nature. How could he deny what he was? How could he choose to live such a profound and cancerous deception?

I don’t think I’d ever understood closeting before this book: this is not a harmless or humorous secret; it is a soul-destroying disease, a hideous betrayal of those things that should be most precious, which in Jake’s case reaches its ugly apogee when he physically knocks Adrien to the ground, one of the more disturbing scenes I’ve ever read. The parallel with a sociopathic murderer is not as strained as one might think. For someone as fundamentally honest as Jake Riordan to live that kind of deception is the real perversion: that he fails to understand this is both believable and frightening. And though Lanyon doesn’t dismiss the bigoted aspects of our society that impel someone to make such a choice, in the end he places the responsibility squarely on Jake.

The later two volumes wrap up their story beautifully, but this book stands out for forcing me to understand on a visceral level something I’d never had to face before.