WHY I READ IT
I will read anything and everything Sarina Bowen writes.
WHAT I RATED IT
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
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.
There are a lot of ways to tell you loved a book.
But one of the biggest ways?
When you finish it and immediately want to go back to the beginning and start over again. I didn’t even want to be reading it for the first time again. I just wanted a chance to relive all those feelings again. I wanted to watch Josh and Caleb fall in love. I just wanted to fall in love with falling in love again.
When I say this book, had all the feels, I really mean ALL of them. I felt horror, elation, misery, joy, anger, despair, and contentment. Sometimes, I had those feelings all within a single passage. I alternated between laughing, crying, and just straight out smiling throughout this entire story. I wanted so badly for Josh and Caleb to have their happy ending, but with so much stacked against them, I just wasn’t sure it was possible.
Josh and Caleb have known each other their entire lives while growing up in Paradise, but their upbringing was wasn’t conducive to Josh’s “impure” thoughts. Josh knew he was gay, considering the number of naked thoughts he had about his best friend. He was certain Caleb could never feel the same way. Strong, popular, strapping Caleb, who was planning on marrying Miriam, could never love Josh in the way Josh dreamed of. Josh knew he would eventually be cast out, and that scared him almost as much as spending his life there. The only light in his darkness was Caleb, and the thoughts he allowed himself at night while falling asleep. I just loved Josh, and wanted to hug and protect him. He didn’t think he had much to contribute to society. His confidence and self worth were seriously lacking, but if only he could see himself through Caleb’s eyes.
Caleb was the everyman man. He was one of the trusted men on the compound. Having an opportunity to leave each day for chores and errands, he gained an insight to the world that Josh never had a chance to experience. Josh looked to him as the knowledgeable one, but I always felt like Caleb was just as naive as Josh, he just hid better. But Caleb had a plan, and he was going to see it through.
Even though very little of the story was spent in the actual compound, it was a continuous theme throughout the story. It was a part of them, and difficult to cast out of their minds. I watched Josh and Caleb struggle with the life they were raised on, and the one they were currently living. But they struggled together, and as difficult as it was, it was beautiful to witness.
From the first word, to the last, I was completely taken by this book. I was sneaking in chapters during my lunch period, while waiting to pick up the kids, and when making dinner. I didn’t want to put it down and at the same time, I didn’t want it to end. Bowen creates these magical worlds and stories that I just want to experience time and time again.