Title: Broken Silence (Rock Bottom #1)
Author: Felice Stevens
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Genre(s): Gay Romance; May-September Relationship
Page Count: TBC
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Justin Molina has secrets. He’s served his time but remains a prisoner of his past, unable to forgive himself for failing his family when they needed him most. Justin’s grief is overwhelming, but he keeps silent and focuses on his goals. About to graduate college, he tries to keep his head above water—no matter how many times life keeps knocking him down. When he’s forced to register for a poetry-writing class, Justin discovers putting words to his feelings might be exactly what his fractured heart needs to heal. Or is it the older professor with the bow ties and gentle smile who gives him a chance when no one else will?
Professor Foster Faraday Harding is a broken man. His divorce is final, and he’s reverted back to the safety of his books. Even his poetry no longer brings him joy; he’s sleepwalking through life. The raw emotion of Justin’s poetry awakens Foster to desires he thought long buried in the ashes of his marriage. When he discovers Justin is struggling financially, Foster offers him a solution that benefits both of them. Soon it’s Foster who’s struggling with emotions he can’t understand: Justin is his student. And a man. One crazy night years earlier doesn’t mean anything. Foster is straight.
After months of denying the growing attraction between them, an unexpected kiss changes everything. Justin and Foster are no longer only professor and student—they’ve become lovers, but the strain of hiding their relationship increases with each passing day. Words have the power not only to hurt but to heal the greatest pain. If Foster and Justin listen to what their hearts are saying, they might break through their silence and live their own love poems—together.
Addicted romance readers surely know the adage: “Some angst each day keeps the boredom away.” Welcome to a lovely book, filled with characters immersed in personal discomfort, anxiously striving for to find relief through late-in-life personal growth. On one hand, we have Justin, whose term in prison has worn him down, leaving him feeling guilty for the pain and loss caused to those around him. He further suffers with a bare ability to eke out the costs of his delayed college education and financially supporting his invalided mother. On the other hand, we have Foster, who, despite comfortable solvency and career success, is in his forties and hasn’t attained those goals sufficient for emotional satisfaction. His former wife (the bitch!) compounded Foster’s lack of self-assurance, making him well aware of how inadequate he was as a lover. He still carries that onus, despite the sage advice of his best friend, that Foster needs to find out whom he is and not who she wanted him to be! Foster’s search is leading him into the new experience of same-sex attraction.
The heroes are symbiotic works in process, and by the novel’s end, they will have assisted in “curing” each other. Foster, particularly, is a repressed pupa, imbued with a future butterfly. There is a new, exciting world awaiting him. The author nicely exploits a golden rule of romance novels – that lust can be the ultimate catalyst, turning angst into passion. BTW, here the lust is first class!
Want to know the essence of HEA? Miss Stevens really knows how to sell it. Foster: “If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?” Justin: “Yours.”
I am a fan of purple prose, and Ms Stevens does not disappoint, using phrases such as: “He stroked me to bliss,” or even better: “He claimed me. Owned me. I was shivering yet enflamed (sic), frozen yet burning up with aching need for more.” Here’s one more: “He touched his lips to mine, and my head spun as my protest died. All I could feel was the pressure of his mouth on mine…though my brain tried to tell me it was wrong . . . I wanted more.”
A PET PEEVE: Given that this review is provided to you at no monetary cost, let me freely complain. I am sad that, for those few of us who still read, so many authors (and editors?) no longer act as guardians of good grammar. Miss Stevens is no worse nor better than others. However, as an example from my Author Review Copy of this book, it is disappointing to read “Like you said, it is a big house…” rather than “As you said…” When us Grammarians win the inevitable coming revolution, I’ll feel so much better.