Published October 26, 2018
A Gay Romance
“Nobody has ever made me feel like this.”
Blaise: I only took a summer job lifeguarding because I wanted something to do in the last few months before heading off to college. Cue Forest Ethridge, my prickly, defensive coworker. I’m drawn to him right off the bat…despite the fact that he seems to find me more of a nuisance than anything else.
I fall hard and fast, despite his warnings that I should guard my heart carefully. Just as he’s opening his own heart to me, Forest disappears without a trace, leaving me wondering what exactly went wrong. Ten years later I’m still grappling with the repercussions of my first devastating love…and that’s when he shows up again. Can I look past my own pain long enough to find out what happened? Or is it better to move on with my life?
“I have one rule: don’t let anybody in.”
Forest: As a teenager, I learned the hard way that nobody except my sister Faye can be trusted. Still reeling from our parents’ abandonment, we’ve figured out how to fly beneath the radar. For years I never let anybody in…until I met Blaise Lancaster. He’s kind and funny and full of hope. Making out with him is a mistake, and promising to take his virginity is an even bigger one. But before I can make good on my promise, Faye and I are thrust into chaos once more. It’s time to leave my hometown once and for all, and there’s no time for goodbyes.
A decade later I’m still wary and defensive. My solace at the end of each day is listening to Blaise’s award-winning podcast. When I find out that he’ll be visiting a local bookstore on a promotional tour, I decide to go and skulk in the back of the room. Then our eyes meet, and I realize that my feelings for Blaise have never truly flickered out. Is it too late to rekindle my first love? And will Blaise be able to forgive me?
Guarded Hearts is a standalone, enemies-to-lovers gay romance featuring a whole lot of mutual pining, a second chance at love, and an HEA.
A second-chance, slowest burn ever, heart-wrenching love story about two young men whose lives were worlds apart.
Forest and his sister Faye had an extremely difficult childhood, at the best of times, but at age 15, they were faced with the fact, “inescapable and devastating” as it was, that their parents had quietly abandoned them in the middle of the night. From that point forward, staying alive, not freezing or starving while staying together was their primary focus. They managed to stay alive but their emotional growth was stunted, their ability to connect and participate in life, broken.
Shortly after graduating from high school while starting a new summer job, one of two Forest had to keep himself and Faye housed and fed, he met Blaise.
Blaise, also starting a summer job as a lifeguard at the rec center, had an entirely different childhood, a self-described charmed life. When he came out to his parents and older brother, they became his biggest supporters. He took the job at the rec center to have something productive to do; so different from Forest who was there to for life’s necessities. Blaise was so innocent and sheltered that he had no concept that Forest could possibly living in such a desperate situation. He did know one thing. Blaise knew that Forest was skittish and he would need to be patient. Meeting him was life-changing and Blaise wanted Forest to be his first everything, first kiss, and that wanting was mutual.
“My affection for him began expanding in my chest, making me gasp”. Blaise was overcome with emotion filled with hope for the future…..until Forest suddenly disappeared.
I don’t want the reader to think that this story was entirely tragic. There were funny moments and tender times. Most funny was when Forest and Blaise were practicing CPR during their training. You must read this story.
The brief period of time Blaise and Forest spent together, as innocent as it was, changed both of their lives forever. If there were a soundtrack to this story, the theme would be heartbreak.
A 4.5 star, low steam, HEA
4 Top pick
3 Compelling page-turner
1. Oh so Vanilla
3. Passion and Romance
4. Toe-curling yumminess