The severe bullying he suffered as a teenager left Jack Flemming scarred both physically and emotionally. Now an adult, he has carved out a life for himself as co-owner of the Mechanic Shop. He enjoys his volunteer work with the throwaway boys, and has a supportive best friend. When the past resurfaces in a phone call from Zachariah Durban, Jack discovers that while living is easy, forgiveness is much harder.
Zachariah Durban did a bad thing when he was a young punk of a teenager. But right after he did it, he knew it wasn’t right. Still, he ran away and made something of himself as a big shot author. Now, living in the south of France with writer’s block hitting him hard, Zachariah knows something has to change – starting with earning Jack Flemming’s forgiveness.
Jack and Zachariah “don’t call me Zac” were friends in high school until one day Zachariah and his football friends do something truly horrible to Jack that leaves him near death.
Now, fifteen years later, Zachariah has writer’s block and he’s calling on Jack for help.
After some resistance, Jack agrees to meet with Zachariah in Southern France and they work out their differences and realize that they still harbor deep feelings for each other and more.
Oh man. I really, really wanted to like this book and I really don’t want to write a review full of negativity… I liked the premise so much… I liked the writing and the narration… it seemed to have a nice flow… but…
First, I never understood why Zachariah treated Jack the way he did. It was brutal. Not just a prank, but brutality. And Zac’s answer to why he did it – “I don’t know, it seemed like the right thing at the time”. And, “I thought it was a harmless prank. I wasn’t thinking.” These just don’t jive for me. Even for a 17 year-old boy, none of that makes any sense. Jack was his friend. Even if he wasn’t publicly friends with him or if he was ashamed of the friendship, even if he was scared by his own feelings, even if he was feeling bullied by his football friends (which he never claims to be any of these), the amazingly abusive bullying he took part in makes absolutely no sense and then he simply walks away from him that night and then runs away from him once he finds out Jack’s in the hospital? It just doesn’t make sense.
If I were Jack I don’t believe there would be any way in hell I’d forgive him. Especially when he had not one real reason for doing it.
Second, if we ignore the first major hole in the plot and accept the fact that it happened… what causes Zac’s renewed interest? There are plenty of reasons he could have for wanting to reconnect, but we are given none. Then, when Zac decides he wants to see Jack again, he essentially bullies Jack into flying to France to see him. Why didn’t he just get on a plane himself if it was so important? And why did Jack get on the plane? That made no sense either. Zac almost got Jack killed and it’s Zac who needs closure – let the man come to you! Not to mention Jack has a business to run, kids who depend on him and the man almost got you killed!
Third, now that Jack is in France he goes to see Zac, then runs away when Zac can’t do anything but say he’s sorry, but Jack still stays in Zac’s house. Why not go to a hotel? Why not go home? The next time Jack sees him, Zac tells him he “wants him” and Jack punches Zac and then goes to live with Zac’s sister for a week. That makes no sense either. Again, this super-bad bully treats you like crap, you fly out to France to get closure, Zac can’t say anything that makes you feel better about the past and in fact tells you he wants you (from out of the blue and from a supposedly straight guy) so you appropriately get mad and then you stay with his sister? For a week? And Zac is supposedly looking for Jack this whole time but doesn’t ask his sister about it or talk to her the entire time. It struck me as confusing and very unbelievable.
Fourth, after some awkward discussions, Jack and Zac decide to date and after the second date they have sex. And then they fall in love and go to their high school reunion… it just kept getting more and more unbeliveable.
I don’t want to belittle the author’s efforts because I know that it’s hard to put together a complete story and plug all the little plot holes, but these are large, gaping holes, wide-enough-for-the-Nile-River holes. Obviously, since the book is now an audiobook it must have sold pretty well, but it didn’t gel with me.
I liked Jack’s character and really wanted him to make a stand. If there had been any sort of remotely understandable reason for Zac to act like he did and if Zac had taken some real steps toward making himself forgiven, the story could have been excellent. But having Zac say – “I don’t know why I did it” – just makes no sense and sets the rest of the story up poorly. I couldn’t like Zac. I couldn’t. He never redeemed himself to me and since Jack falls for him (never stopped loving him in fact) he ends up being someone I can’t like either.
Paul Morey did the narration for the audiobook and he did a nice job. I enjoyed his husky voice and liked the narration well enough to continue where I would have set the book down without finishing. Part of the reason I keep using Zac instead of Zachariah is that hearing Paul say that name over and over became really bulky. I understand why the character didn’t like the nick-name, but reading/hearing the full name repeatedly got distracting. But – having two lovers named Zac and Jack is awkward too.
Overall, I cannot really recommend this book. The MCs don’t act the way I think real people would react and the resulting romance is unbelievable as a result.
I give it 2 of 5 hearts for the narration, the cover and the premise.