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.
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Paul Morey does a great job but the story is weak
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 stars for the narration, the cover and the premise.
- Morgan A Skye
Deliciously heartbreaking love story.
Fantastic story, definitely at the top of my list.
Holy christ, when Zach sees Jack's scars for the first time and he breaks down, Paul Morey really captured the pain in that moment. It was painfully, yes, but beautiful at the same time.
Again, Zach. He is relentless in his pursuit of Jack.
Prom is supposed to be one of the most amazing nights of every senior’s life. But for Jack Flemming it was a nightmare, suffering through an extreme act of bullying that crossed the line over into a hate crime, leaving him permanently scarred mentally as well as physically. Fifteen years later and Jack has found a way past the depression, he is a successful business owner and volunteers at a local boys home. He has finally carved a life out of all the pain. Until the person responsible for that pain reappears in Jack’s life.
Zachariah Durban has spent the last fifteen years regretting not telling Jack that he loved him, regretting not stopping his friends from hurting Jack all those years ago. Determined to make Jack a part of his life again, Zach reaches out, but Jack is not about to make it that easy. He convinces Jack to come to Paris and give him a chance to explain. On the beautiful beaches of Saint Tropez France, child hood friends with a lot of baggage will get to know each other again and try to figure out if they can forgive and forget.
This book was absolutely delicious! Two of my favorite things are Remmy Duchene and Paul Morey, so this audio book was the perfect marriage of those two things. Duchene delivers her trademark style of an interracial couple that is broken and bent and determined to mend each other, regardless. The story is both engaging and intriguing. Here you have two grown men that have never been able to forget, to move past each other. There past is shrouded by this horrible event that left Jack scarred, but even that tragedy couldn’t kill the love they have for one another.
So Paul Morey steps in and gives these characters a voice, gives their pain a voice as well. Oh my god, to hear the literal break in Morey’s voice when Zach broke down the first time he sees the scars Jack carries, I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much emotion in another narration before, it broke my damn heart. Which is just what an excellent narrator should do, they should be able to convey an author’s words and allow the reader to have a visual picture of the mixture, words and tones.
Of course if you are a fan of Duchene’s books or Morey’s works you have to hear this one. Fans of gritty, passionate, dark and emotional love stories will enjoy this book as well. I’ll definitely listen to this one again, it was just so good.
- Tams (TTC Books and more)