Title: Shadows On My Soul
Author: Leigh Jarrett
Publisher: Steambath Press (self-published)
Release Date: June 12, 2017
Genre(s): Gay Fiction
Page Count: 329 pages
Reviewed by: Natalie
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Beyond the shadows, his love held true for only one man
Derek Lawrence is a player. There is no other way to phrase it. He’s been unstoppable since coming out in high school. Guy after guy, conquest after conquest. He isn’t looking for any kind of commitment from anyone. His life is perfect the way it is.
Except for one aspect. Derek has been in love with his best friend and business partner, Justin Leary, since the first day he set eyes on him over twenty years ago.
When an implication surfaces that Justin’s feelings for Derek might run far deeper than friendship, he considers approaching Justin about it. But before he can, one targeted act of violence followed by the aftermath of violation, challenges the depth of Derek’s love for Justin.
I saw Shadows On My Soul reviewed on another blog and thought it would be right up my alley. I was thrilled when we received a request for review, and I immediately volunteered. I got about 50% into the story and called it quits. Unfortunately, Shadows On My Soul was a miss for me.
Derek and Justin have been friends since they were teens. Derek is gay and out. Justin seemingly identifies as straight. He was in a relationship with a woman for a long while, and of course, they break up. Justin has always had feelings for Derek, and EVERYONE seems to know it except Derek. Derek confronts Justin when they’re younger since he’s been secretly crushing on him all while banging every guy he can (they’re both pining after each other without the other knowing) and there’s supposedly this unspoken connection between the two of them. When Derek confronts Justin about their relationship, Justin dismisses him, and they both go through life miserable because they can’t be together except as business partners! Yes, torture yourself and go into business with the one person you’d give anything to be with in a romantic capacity. Justin never followed his dreams. He followed Derek. Why not see the guy you’re in love with on a daily basis and have blue balls for infinity?
Anyway, during a camping trip with friends (including Derek), Justin is sexually assaulted. Derek interrupts the rape, but Justin is so ashamed and angry at himself for not telling Derek about his feelings before the attack occurred. He then confesses his love for Derek when he’s at the hospital after a suicide attempt.
I know this review is super spoilery, but I had to explain this to tell you why this book didn’t work for me. This story albeit dark and somewhat depressing could have been phenomenal. I was waiting to be hit in the feels!
What was problematic for me? I loathed the way the story was written. This was my first Leigh Jarrett novel and I did not jive with the author’s writing style at all. Lengthy flashbacks scenes, overuse of italics to depict inner dialogue, external conflict with secondary characters overshadowed the story between the MCs, and the fact that there was no build up to Justin and Derek’s relationship in the present tense on the page irritated me. IMO, I think had the editing been a bit better with sussing out the events in this story and rearranging them, it would have had more of an impact.
We get all of these confessions after two horrific events occurred. We don’t get to see our MCs as business partners interacting daily before the camping trip. The rape occurs almost immediately. Readers are told via friends that there’s “something going on between the two of them” because they see the way they look at each other when together. I didn’t feel any emotional connection with either Derek or Justin. I think had elements of the story been reworked; this could have been a hit.
I give this story two stars for effort.