Title: Out of the Shade
Author: S.A. McAuley
Length: 368 Pages
At a Glance: S.A. McAuley has written an amazing, honest, touching book that you should all go and check out for yourselves!
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: The hardest battle is the fight to be yourself….
Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy–a cocky sports fan capable of drinking more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy–a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.
Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography–documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.
When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through–coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.
Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.
Reader Advisory: Out of the Shade is a standalone novel with an HEA that carries the following warnings–alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting
Review: Full disclosure right up front…this is not going to be the easiest book you tackle this year. Much of it is heavy and dark, and the angst is sooo angsty. The story is real, and gritty, and gut-wrenching at times; BUT, it is also incredibly rich, and honest, and extremely heart-warming at times. There is no doubt that reading S.A. McAuley’s Out of the Shade is going to be a very personal reading experience for every reader, just as writing it was a very personal experience for the author. I myself identified with a lot of the themes in the book. I am all too familiar with how alcoholism can affect both family and friendships. I am extremely familiar with the dynamic of the Kensington boys and Kensington wives. My group of friends very much has a ride or die mentality, particularly the guys, many of whom have been friends since junior high or even elementary school. So, I get these guys. And, even though it was hard to read at times, I was invested in Jesse’s story from the very first page.
Jesse Solomona—“Sollie” to everyone in the neighborhood—finds himself in unfamiliar territory when he starts to fall for Chuck Dunn. His friends have NO idea that Jesse is attracted to or has hooked up with guys before. He’s made sure to keep that part of himself so far hidden that he isn’t even really able to acknowledge it himself. He’s definitely never been in the position of being attracted to someone the boys know. But, when Kam starts bringing Chuck around, everything changes. Jesse is immediately drawn to Chuck, and vice versa, and they very quickly begin seeing each other behind closed doors. What the other Kensington boys think is just two dudes broing out, is actually much more than that. And, that terrifies both Jesse and Chuck, albeit for different reasons.
Sollie’s fear is more a fear of the unknown. He doesn’t actually know how his friends and family would take it if he came out…he simply isn’t ready to risk losing any of them. And Chuck knows firsthand how ugly things can get when the people in your life don’t have open minds or hearts and decide to take away their love and support, so he doesn’t want to push Jesse. But Chuck’s last relationship was also with someone who was closeted, and he doesn’t want to live that way again. Add that to the fact that Jesse isn’t even willing to admit to himself that he’s not straight? Yeah, it’s definitely not smooth sailing for these two.
I’ve rarely read, or fallen so hard for, an MC who is so lost. And Jesse is so, so lost. But, perhaps the most beautiful thing about the story is Jesse’s journey. He has to do a lot of soul-searching and self-discovery before he can have anything real with Chuck—but, the thing Jesse also comes to understand is that he has to do it for himself. I LOVED Jesse’s character arc. McAuley puts the characters through their paces in this story, but her execution of both the character building and the romance arc was masterful. I was all in for the entire book.
There is much to love in Out of the Shade. I haven’t even touched on the fantastic storyline with the kids at the boxing club, or how much I love Kam and some of the other supporting characters, or how insanely sexy Chuck and Jesse are. I could go on for several more paragraphs. S.A. McAuley has written an amazing, honest, touching book that you should all go and check out for yourselves!
You can buy Out of the Shade here:
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