Review: Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett


Note: This ARC was provided by the author via Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an honest review.

I make no secret of how much I love M/M romances. If I'm being totally honest, I'd choose to read an M/M over an M/F if both were presented to me and I had to pick which one I'd go for first. If you've read my reviews in the past, you'll know that I've loved many an M/M romance, but that doesn't mean that every single title that lands on my e-reader gets an automatic pass and receives a stellar rating and glowing reviews. Case in point: Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett. This was a standalone best friends to fuck buddies to lovers story and the author's first go at M/M. This was also my first read from her, and I wish to God that I could give this a higher rating than what you're going to find by the end of this review or that I could tell you that I demand you read this as soon as humanly possible, or at the very least, that you add it to your to-be-read list. I don't think I'm all that picky about the books I read, but I've read lots of M/M books so I've got a wide selection to compare Unforgiven to, and regrettably, it fell way short.

Twenty-one-year-old Jason Sorentino and twenty-two-year-old Dean Whitley have been best friends since they were children. Now in their final year of college before receiving their degrees in architecture, they're hoping they'll still get to work in Seattle together after graduation, but there are no guarantees. Change appears to be in the offing, but it hits them faster than either one of them expected when Dean catches Jason in a very compromising position with another guy. This leads Dean to question just how long Jason has been keeping his being gay a secret and if it's an actual thing or nothing more than part of some experimentation Jason is going through. On the other hand, Jason is devastated, especially since Dean appears to be rather disgusted with his discovery. Jason's already got years of guilt weighing upon him, what with two years of molestation he had to endure with his parish priest. Is this the end of the friendship or could this be the beginning of something...more?

Okay, where to begin... Dean was an ass. I'm sorry, but he really was for, like, the first half of the book. I wasn't sure if he got whacked with a tennis ball one too many times or maybe he fell on his untied tennies and fell on his racket causing permanent brain damage, but the guy's archaic ideas when it came to being gay was a sad reflection on the kind of person he was. Jason was his best friend, and instead of focusing on him and the fact that he had this secret--one of several--that he was forced to keep from Dean, it became all about how Jason being gay was affecting him and how it was Jason's fault that he was now all confused. Erm, hello? The world doesn't revolve around you, Mr. Full-of-Himself. He made his best friend of so many years feel guilty about being gay. Who the hell does that?! He was kinda-sorta-maybe turned off by Jason gayness but then he would pressure him to suck him off or "experiment" so more. Ugh. He may have won me over by the second half, but that took a totally long-ass time.

Now, about Jason... Can I just say that the guy had me both wanting to give him a hug and begging him to have a bit more self-respect when it came to Dean? I get it, I get it. Dean is the guy he's been in love with forever, so of course, when the guy you desperately want starts to make it obvious that he's into experiencing any number of sexual acts with you, you get all excited. But Dean was blowing hot and cold and he treated Jason like crap the weeks after he learned Jason was gay, so I was hoping Jason would have taken a step back instead of falling heart first. He made so many misguided decisions based solely on how Dean was making him feel, whether Dean was consciously or unconsciously doing it. But those flashbacks regarding what happened with Father Ryan were moderately intense, and my heart broke for what he's had to endure. I do wish, though, that there had been some sort of trigger warning on the book because I think any reader needs to be aware of these things before, not after. 

I feel bad because this book had potential based on the synopsis alone since that was what drew me to read it after all. I mean, I don't read every single M/M romance book out there, so a synopsis counts a lot, especially when it's a book written by an author who's new to me and because it's like a promise of what awaits me when I start reading. But that promise wasn't met, and that makes me sad because while I always have that hope that, at the very least, a book will entertain me--and this book did to a certain degree--I also want it to be something I can relate to, and hopefully, have a story and characters I can fall in love with. I'm not saying that this book was terrible from start to finish. It did have high points, but they were few and far between. The writing also felt choppy, with changes in the characters and situations coming from nowhere rather than smooth transitions. It did get better by the end, but by then, it was just too little, too late. It pains me to say this, but I can only give Unforgiven two stars. ♥

Date Read: 15 March 2017

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