I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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With this second book in the trilogy, C. Kennedy delivers yet again a stunning YA novel of loss and pain, of perseverance and overcoming obstacles, and of love, so much love.
Tharros means Courage. And it will take all the courage Christy and Michael have to move forward.
We meet Christy and Michael again as they are recuperating in the hospital after Christy was kidnapped by the evil Yosef Sanna to be used again as his personal sex slave, but rescued by Michael who suffered injuries of his own during the daring attempt to save his boyfriend from the clutches of evil.
It's not an easy book to read. The author presents an unflinching look at the abuse Christy suffered for many years, abuse that haunts him, stifles him, and makes him fearful of the world around him.
But Christy is also strong and learning to speak for himself, to speak his mind. There's often a bit of wonder in Christy, at Michael mostly, that he is so steadfastly by Christy side, even he pushes, sometimes a bit too hard, not only himself but those around him to provide the best way he can for the boy he loves.
Michael's best friend is also in the hospital after receiving a bat to the head at the hands of Yosef, still in love with Sophia who is initially thought to be Christy's cousin, but the truth about her parentage comes out in this book.
There are ups and downs, days Christy is feeling better and looking forward to prom, his concern being whether he'll be allowed to wear a gown, and there are days when he feels as if he has to retreat back into himself, cowered by the far reaches of the evil people who hurt him, by the memories of the terrors he endured. And there are moments when Christy's reactions surprised me, especially when he finds out that a young boy named Thimi, only 12 or so, has possibly survived the yacht of terror and has been found hiding in a large house in Greece that used to belong to Christy's father. Christy's determination to bring Thimi to the US to give him the care he surely needs, his rallying to the cause, his sheer force of will all were a sight to behold.
Christy also learns to deal with anger, something he's finally expressing, even if the object of his anger isn't always the right one. The fact that feels he can express anger though is a huge step for him, something I cheered for.
But years of abuse have taken a definite toll, and there are moments when Christy retreats back into his mind, running away from grief, and fear, and pain.
And Michael, steadfast, loving Michael, who most days is merely skating by, is there to bring him back, slowly, carefully, lovingly, rescuing Christy time and again from the depth of his own mind.
While this is a work of fiction, and while I cannot fathom that something so evil as depicted in this book is truly possible, I have to concede that there are things beyond my ken, beyond what I imagine feasible, and that the torture, abuse, and child slavery described within is perhaps happening somewhere in this world as I read this book, as you read this review. People who perpetrate this evil are soulless monsters, sociopaths and narcissists who care for nothing but themselves, nightmarish creatures that don't give a hoot about the young men and women they hurt, burn, disfigure, for their own cruel pleasure.
And just as the readers feels the bile rising in his or her throat at the horrific nature of the abuse Christy suffered, the author gently calms the waters with positive images, with gentle touches, with childlike wonder, with family, and with love.
So much love.
At the end of Tharros, much like the author did at the end of Omorphi, there is a list of organizations with websites and phone numbers to contact if you suspect anyone being held against their will, sexually or in other ways abused. And if you're a victim of such abuse, there are organizations available to help you too. Above all, if you have been a victim, remember that nothing that happened to you was your fault. It is the fault of the evil people who perpetrated the abuse, who did things to you against your will.
I've seen Christy grow from the years of abuse, and while his path wasn't easy, and while there were many obstacles in his way, he persevered. He kept moving forward.
I pray you keep moving in that direction too.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **