Review: Freeing (#1.5, Fading) by E.K. Blair

My Thoughts

Honest. Heartfelt. Emotionally charged.
A moving story of one man’s struggle to accept who he is and how he finds the courage to free himself from his fears to find unconditional love and happiness.

5stars

Synopsis

FREEINGCoverFINALKnowing who you are and accepting who you are come at different prices.

Jase Kinrick grew up in your typical, all-American household. But after the death of his sister, his parents shut down, forcing him to deal with everything life throws his way alone. Terrified of the person he’s discovering himself to be, Jase has his way with every willing girl to try and rid himself of what he fears he is—gay.

Escaping California and moving to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, Jase frees himself to the reality that he likes men. Never staying with any guy long enough to get to know them, he doesn’t realize that he’s still hiding from who he is until he meets Mark. Scared of having real feelings for another guy stirs up the questions and fears he’s fought hard to bury.

To strip away the barriers to the heart of what is real, and to be okay with what lies underneath, will be Jase’s moment of truth. But he’ll need Mark to lead him there.

My Review

“I’ve spent the last few years praying that this is just a phase. Fighting the thoughts that skate around in my head. Pretending to be someone I’m not in an attempt to escape this sick person who lives inside of me.”

You may think you know Jase, but there is SO MUCH MORE to him. This story made me understand him and connect with him on a much deeper level.  This story is so honest and heartfelt, I felt everything Jase was feeling… the fear, the hurt, the love. E.K. Blair’s beautiful writing brings the story to life vividly and now more than ever, I feel so invested in these characters. Although the story is short (a novella), the pacing was perfect and I was totally “in it” the entire time. In Freeing, we follow Jase’s heartbreaking journey as he struggles to accept that he’s gay. We learn that his inability to accept himself comes not only from the innate pressures of societal norms, but also from the crushing rejection of his parents. His still feels the gaping loss of his sister, and feeling alone and dejected, he struggles to find solid ground. We also gain deeper insight into his relationship with Candace… they are each other’s only family. Through the years, they’ve held on to each other in desperation to find much-needed solace, affection and love. They are each other’s true safe haven. I loved seeing their extraordinary relationship come alive on the page.

“I’m sad because I love you. When your heart hurts, so does mine. Your pain is my pain.”

Although the book is entirely Jase’s story, which starts prior to “the incident” in Fading and continues in that time, we do experience Jase’s side of what happens. Once again, I was gutted and moved to tears. I was taken back to Fading and everything that happened to Candace, but my feelings were magnified when witnessing the anger, fear and helplessness Jase felt at seeing his best friend go through the most painful experience of her life.

“She’s silent as she stares out the window while I drive her back to my place. The misery is palpable; the way life can change in a matter of a moment. I look over at her as she sits there—lifeless—and I desperately want to make it all disappear.”

When Jase first meets Mark, he immediately senses something different. He’s drawn to him. He’s gorgeous, but also kind and forthright. When the attraction between them is undeniable, Mark immediately tells him he is not looking for a casual thing. Jase has been so lost in pretending for so long that despite being with other men, he feels an actual relationship with a man will irrevocably solidify he’s gay… a fact he’s not ready to fully accept. His trepidation has kept him on the sidelines, using men in a string of one-night stands and casual affairs, none which have broken through the protective walls he’s built inside of himself. He wants to try… he wants to be better… but despite his good intentions, he surrenders to his old ways and begins to destroy something beautiful and real. After all, how can you truly love someone without first accepting and loving who you are?

“I don’t want to hide parts of me from you, but I don’t know how to do that. I get scared. I’m afraid people are judging me… You seem so sure of yourself, and I’m so far from that. I want to give that to you. I don’t want to mess this up, and I don’t want you to change the way you are with me because everything you do, you do it perfectly.”

I loved getting to know Mark as well. We already knew he was so good, but I loved his honesty and directness. He encouraged Jase to free himself and accept who he is, but never pushed. Mark simply showed him affection and love. Jase carries so much inside of him during this time… his own insecurities, his feelings of worry and helplessness in Candace’s situation and now the feelings of inadequacy plague him. He knows he hurts Mark every time he pulls his hand away in public, every moment he refuses to show the world he loves him.

“I’m undeserving and selfish. You’re worth so much more than what I’m capable of giving you.”

Overall, the story is just so achingly honest and heartfelt. It’s so beautifully written and captivating. This is a story of acceptance. A story of forgiveness. But most importantly, a story of love.

So far, this has been a wonderful, powerful, moving series that doesn’t seem to let me go. I am so looking forward to reading Falling, which will be Ryan’s story.

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Excerpt

Nobody knows. I’m not sure anyone will ever know. Who wants a fag for a friend? I’ve spent the last few years praying that this is just a phase. Fighting the thoughts that skate around in my head. Pretending to be someone I’m not in an attempt to escape this sick person who lives inside of me.

The only person I need right now—the only one who would listen and not judge me—is gone. I feel like God is punishing me for some reason. He took away the only one who could help me. The only one I could confide in. It’s been almost two years since Jacie died.

I miss her.

I miss everything about her, and now I need her more than ever. I need her to tell me it’s okay, that I’m okay.

About E.K. Blair

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USA Today bestselling author and International Amazon bestselling author, E.K. Blair takes her readers on an emotional roller coaster with her FADING series. A former first grade teacher with an imagination that runs wild. Daydreaming and zoning out is how she was often found in high school. Blair tends to drift towards everything dark and moody. Give her a character and she will take pleasure in breaking them down, digging into their core to find what lies underneath.

Aside from writing, E.K. Blair finds pleasure in music, drinking her Starbucks in peace, and spending time with her friends. She’s a thinker, an artist, a wife, a mom, and everything in between.

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