Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg

One guy intent on caution. One an adrenaline junkie. Love could be one risk too many.

March is determined to lose the numbness that accompanies a history of loss and blame. Desperate to feel something—anything—the adrenaline junkie base jumps off cliffs, soars on hang gliders, and embarks on dangerous sea-borne rescue missions. But any release he feels is fleeting, and when you play Russian roulette with fate, eventually you come crashing down.

No matter how hard Caleb tries to forget his past, a dark shadow is always behind him. When a bizarre turn of events results in him being trapped in a sea cave, Caleb wonders how his mantra—safety at all costs—could have failed him. On the point of drowning, he’s stunned when March surfaces in the cave.

March’s disregard for the rules saves Caleb’s life but gets March into a heap of trouble. Not least of which is the guy shivering in the boat next to him. March tries to ignore Caleb but it’s already too late. Together, they take small, awkward steps toward love. But Caleb’s past is waiting to sink in its claws…and this time, it could drag him to his death.

Warning: This book contains difficult flashbacks of child abduction and sexual violence, but also the incredible perseverance of two men who never give up on love—or each other. Bring your tissues and a heart that believes in the resilience of the human spirit.

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Samhain  Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is an intense read all the way through. It slips from the past to today in ever increasing frequency and I got the twist fairly quickly, but the reveal worked well, and was beautifully handled. Actually the whole story is surprisingly beautiful – given the subject matter and the long-term impact of it on the protagonists.

This is undoubtedly a romance, but as with many of Ms. Elsborg's books, the reader is treated to much, much more than a simple story. The plot is deep, difficult, and keeps the reader thinking all the way through. It is very clever because it could fall over the edge, but instead it skirts along a fine line, and is so sensitive to the lead characters, that the reader can completely embrace the closeness that develops.

A really good read. Thank you Ms. Elsborg!

I have only read a few of Elsborg’s books, but I’ve enjoyed each one of them. So I jumped at the chance to review Give Yourself Away. The premise intrigued me and I expected the author could make it an interesting read. I was not disappointed as the blurb merely hinted at a tiny portion of what plays out over the course of the novel and it was even better than I expected.

I’ll start with a warning and clarification, the book opens with a scene that I suspect will scare the bejeezus out of most parents – the abduction of two young boys, Baxter and Tye, 15 years earlier. What made it scary was not that it was violent, but rather that it occurred so easily. Each chapter opens with a scene from the boys’ time with their kidnapper and while nothing explicit happens on page, you have no doubt as to what the boys endured, especially Tye. And as more comes out about how the boys were abducted, I suspect a few parents will experience a bit of panic regarding the vulnerability of their own children. After each snippet from the past is presented, we join Caleb and March in the present and it didn’t take long for me to realize the direction the author was practically shoving me in as more is revealed about the men. While there is a definite romantic suspense element to Give Yourself Away, it had nothing to do with the correlation between Baxter & Tye and March & Caleb. No, where the mystery came into play was determining who it was from Caleb’s past who was threatening him and those near him who hurt him. I will embarrassingly admit that once the stalker’s identity was revealed I was both shocked by who it was and why that person never dawned on me.

As much as I enjoyed the romantic suspense element, it was watching the relationship between Caleb and March form and grow that I really enjoyed. It was painfully obvious that Caleb had his issues and walking in on his boyfriend cheating on him, in public, at a party, did nothing to help them. On the other hand, March seems to have it all together as a college professor until he’s accused of sexual impropriety by a female student and we learn that March has been questioning his sexuality since he broke off his engagement. When fate brings the two men together and they begin getting to know one another, it’s entertaining to watch as they are both wary of the other for different reasons. But as they overcome their fears and become better acquainted with one another, they both feel a strong pull to the other without understanding why. But as March makes Caleb feel safer than he has in years, and Caleb makes March feel as though he’s finally figured out what’s been missing in his relationships, they are both hesitant of making the wrong move, wanting too much, and possibly scaring the other man away. This was a bit frustrating for me as the reader to witness being as I had already figured out their secret, but it was still fascinating to watch unfold. Between the men’s chemistry, their romance, the mystery stalker, and the truth about the boys’ abduction, I was fully engrossed in Give Yourself Away because I had to know how it was going to play out. The ending of the book had me glued to my Kindle once Caleb’s stalker made his identity known by abducting Caleb. I loved that March’s second job and willingness to jump into the fray were what saved Caleb and I especially loved the epilogue. All in all, another great read from Elsborg.

Barbara Elsborg lives in West Yorkshire in the north of England. She always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Vulcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide. (Try saying that fast)

After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm) she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop. Her books feature quirky heroines and bad boys, sometimes two bad boys for each quirky heroine, and more recently two bad boys all on their own. She hopes her stories are as much fun to read as they are to write.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg to read and review.

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