Tuesday, August 23, 2016

His Right Choice by Thianna Durston

Nicholas Layton, fresh off his mission for the Mormon church, attends Falcon Pointe University with plans to enjoy his final year of freedom before he gives in and marries his long-term girlfriend. But when he meets a group of gay men, some of whom are ex-Mormons and some who practice loving physical discipline, he finds he is more comfortable with them than anywhere else. Suddenly, he’s straddling the line between good Mormon and gay man.

As an added bonus—or problem, depending—he meets Ethan Kierk, who is good-looking, fun to be around, and who wants to be with him. Nick tries not to think about dating a man, but he can’t help it. He wants Ethan, and that terrifies him.

To avoid his feelings, Nick steels himself to propose to his girlfriend but breaks things off at the last moment. Instead, he jumps headlong into a relationship with Ethan, and it feels so right—until he has to tell his family. When they reject him, he shares his darkest secret with Ethan, hoping Ethan won’t reject him too.

Hoping he made the right choice.

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Book 4
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Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I loved this book. This is an incredibly powerful coming of age story that tackles issues of identity, faith, and truth, with honesty and hope. I’m not sure how I’ve missed this author before, but this book has turned me into a huge fan.

Returning Mormon missionary Nick is wrestling with the weight of his family and church obligations when he starts at Falcon Pointe. The expectation for him to marry his girlfriend and start a family is frightening to the young gay man. A story that could have been very bleak becomes hopeful when Nick meets a group of gay ex-Mormons on campus. Nick’s problems are never glossed over, but the friendships he is offered and the support he is given helps mitigate the pain he experiences as he chooses an identity for the future.

Nick is a brilliant character and the author paints a painfully accurate picture of the grieving process he must go through before he can grow into himself. Ethan is older (though I’m not sure we know quite how old Ethan is) and provides Nick with patient support as he makes decisions for himself. Ethan’s story is also touching, but the focus of this story is Nick and we never see Ethan develop as more than Nick’s partner. I really loved watching Nick’s personal and sexual awakening and I loved the confidence that develops over the course of the story.

At times this is as much a story of the friendship between Nick and his childhood best friend, Deke, as it is a romance, and I loved the way the author allowed this relationship to develop. I also enjoyed the way the author refrains from harsh criticism of the Mormon church, allowing her characters a range of opinions and experiences and providing Nick with several possibilities. This isn’t a preachy, moralising story, it is a book about a boy who faces the awful choice between living a lie, remaining alone for life, or being rejected by his family and church.

I read this book as a standalone, but I’ve already ordered the first book in the series for my Kindle. I really loved it and I can’t wait to read more of this author’s books.

5 Stars for the first half
3 Stars for the second half
4 Stars in total.

Thianna Durston is a new-to-me author, and I read His Right Choice as a standalone, not realizing it was the fourth book in the Men of Falcon Pointe series. I was able to fall into the story without any difficulty, only finding the sheer volume of characters daunting. If I had read the series from the beginning, I doubt that would have been an issue.

At the start, I was enthralled with the background on the Mormon religion and how it affected Nick and those around him. After reading about 10%, I decided I wanted to read the series from the beginning after I finished this installment.

I found Durston's writing to be thorough, educated, and well-researched on a topic many MM authors use but without living up to the potential – window-dressing for the romance. To be honest, at the halfway point, I do feel it devolved into that type of read, which I'll explain below.

I enjoyed Nick, Ethan, and the plethora of characters, who were difficult to keep track of who was whom and how they connected to one another. The side stories were interesting and kept me engaged. I loved the true friendship and support shown on the pages, lightening what could have been a very dark read.

But, as I read further along in the book, I began to miss Nick's mental signature from the first half. He was naive, slightly closed-off – brainwashed. Yet his thought patterns changed when the romance aspects were introduced, until he didn't sound like the same character. Being happy doesn't translate to sounding helpless and giggling. Having friends and a big support system is amazing, but at one point it felt like none of them knew each other, and were only with one another to support Nick.

I know that's not the case, but it just felt like Nick wasn't holding up his end of the friendship – offering them not much in return for their devotion. His narrative wasn't emotionally distraught to warrant so many people focused on him. Scene after scene of at least 4 - 6 people showing up to comfort Nick. I know he was going through a difficult time, and I felt for him. But the way it was written showed Nick as weak, immature, younger than he was, and not in a naive, sheltered way. Like he had devolved in age, and was more teenager than the adult I read in the first half. He was thinking of marriage and kids, and by book's end, he can't take care of himself for an hour without supervision.

I wanted Nick to have a backbone like he did in the first 50% of the book, and stop acting like a damsel in distress. I know I sound cold, but I'm pointing it out for those who do read as I do, and for those who don't, they will love this portion. Once or twice, I was understanding, and emotionally hurt for Nick. 50% of the book, wash-repeat of the friends supporting Nick, I emotionally disconnected.

I wanted this to be an empowering story after the amazing beginning, where Nick found himself. But it was more of a support system story, where his friends got him through it, and Nick can't take credit for the transformation.

It was 30% of the novel before I figured out who was to be Nick's love interest, and that 30% was superb character building and storytelling. So I felt whiplashed once the romance started and it was cavity sweet. Near the halfway point, where Nick goes from devout Mormon to free, it was a bit of a shift for me that I didn't enjoy. However, romance fans will swoon over the fuzziness.

Since I hadn't read the prior books, one thread wouldn't have been so out of nowhere if I had, I bet. The spanking. It just appeared out of nowhere, not fitting in with the storyline when it was introduced. So random, and didn't fit the scene it popped out from.

I understand the concept, believe me, I do. But it didn't feel like the right characters to want it, or deliver it. At the very least, there needed to be a seed of the need from the very start of the book, to remove the feeling of 'where did 'that' come from?'

The very beginning of that chapter is where the book veered off for me. Spankings and panties. Giddiness. Giggling. Sex. Many times of rescuing Nick from his own emotions, with pizza and laughs. Every scene began to be a mirror of one prior, drawing the book out. While I realize this was to remove any insta-love, and allow for proper time to pass of love to be achieved, it was redundant.

That was the difference for me. The first half was made up of an organically flowing storyline, while the second half was similar scenes repeated, with the storyline going stagnant for the sake of building romance. Being this is in the romance category, it didn't affect my rating, just my reading enjoyment.

At the end of the book, I felt I knew the other characters more, that Nick still didn't know himself, and that I knew nothing of Ethan except for what he does for Nick. Who is Ethan? Once the romance started, the focus shifted, and the loss of 'getting to know you' (like the walk through the farm and the ballgame) was lost, because everyone was rushing off to meet an upset Nick and bring pizza.

Highly recommended for fans of MM romance, who love the light and fluffy, syrupy sweet romance, but like a religious bent to add depth.

I do plan on starting this series from the beginning, as I was intrigued with the characters I had met but was lost on their backstories. While I enjoy Thianna Durston's writing style, I'll give a few more books to determine if it was just this book, or if a pattern emerges where the depth of the story turns into only romance by mid-book.

His Right Choice was another 5-star read for me because, yet again, I read it as soon as I got my hands on it and then reread it so I could write my review. I literally cannot help myself. The Men of Falcon Pointe series is an addiction for me – one which I must feed immediately by devouring the book and then take a second read through so that I can savor the story. Like Rafe, Nick does not take up residence in Cory’s house, but unlike Rafe, he has no connection with the men of 959 Brenton Street, so this gave Durston the chance to demonstrate just how small the world can be, especially as Nick was actively avoiding the LDS and GSA groups as he transitioned from his missionary travels and back into college life at Falcon Pointe University.

Unlike the previous young men featured in the series, Nick has a girlfriend and is expected to get engaged soon (at least I don’t remember any of the others having girlfriends). No one knows that he’s attracted to men and he accepts the Mormon Church’s assertion about homosexuality that by marrying and doing his duty to the church, he will be able to overcome his “urges.” Despite his best efforts to avoid temptation, Nick finds himself faced with the young men who have already been in his shoes – Trent, Bastien, Santi, and Rafe. Although Nick’s journey begins with him intending to marry and remain a member of the Mormon Church, the more time he spends with Santi and others, seeing how they’ll support him no matter what choice he makes, and learning that they’re not the deviants the church would have him believe them to be, the more he questions the teachings of the church and his future. And catching the eye of the handsome Ethan – the only person he’s felt a true connection with – makes that path even harder to follow. As Nick comes to terms with the future he wants, fallout from his decision is inevitable and like those before him, he’s stunned by the reactions of those close to him.

Now, trying not to ruin the book for other readers, I found the twist about Ethan’s past to be quite unexpected. I liked it as it set him apart from the other Mormon boys’ partners and it explains why his reaction to the final scene between Nick and his mother is so furious and intense – I’m not sure that such an angry outburst would have been acceptable by any of the other partners. Then again, Nick’s mother’s confrontation with him was one of the harshest compared to those of the previous mothers shown in the series. I loved that Nick’s best friend, Deke, was so supportive of him and stuck by him regardless of each new thing he learned about Nick. I readily admit that I laughed my butt off when Deke discovered that Nick and Ethan were in a domestic discipline relationship; not only was the post-spanking scene hilarious, but it made me that much happier that Deke and Kelli had hit it off. Fans of the series will enjoy getting to catch up with the guys from the earlier books, and I especially enjoyed getting to know Santi better as he forged his friendship with Nick. I found His Right Choice to be another great addition to the Men of Falcon Pointe and am looking forward to the next installment in the series – and I wouldn’t complain if Alan finally found his match because I missed him seeing him this time around.

Also Available in the Men of Falcon Pointe Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Dreamspinner Press

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Dreamspinner Press

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Dreamspinner Press

THIANNA DURSTON is a writer by day and supernova by night. Or at least that’s what the faeries tell her. And who is she to deny those pesky *cough* lovely little creatures?

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, though her heart belongs elsewhere. In the meantime, until she can return to the place she calls home, she happily lives in a city that still thinks it’s a small town. Thankfully, it has given her muse lots of amusing places to start a story.

Connect with Thianna

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of His Right Choice (Men of Falcon Pointe #4) by Thianna Durston to read and review.


  1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed His Right Choice.

    Erica, thanks for your comments. It will give me something to focus on when I rewrite - to not lose the story in the romance.

    Again, I'm thrilled the three of you enjoyed His Right Choice.

  2. Thanks for entertaining us. & I do apologize if any feelings were hurt with my review.

    I'm in the process of rewriting a 12 book series (complete overhaul after taking off-sale) so my personal mistakes & issues rear their ugly head while I read. I can't turn it off, so I'm unable to read like a regular reader does. Can't take the writer/editor hat off- wish I could. So my apologies.

    I'm looking forward to reading your series from the beginning in Oct.



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