Adam Young is a devout Mormon whose life is all planned out for him, by both his strict father and by his church. He follows the path they’ve established for him, including going off to his mission to Spain with mission companion Brandon Christensen—a handsome, enthusiastic practitioner of Mormonism. But as their mission progresses, they both realize they have major questions about their faith… and substantial feelings for one another.
This story was beautiful. I adored everything about this book. I was pulled in right from the beginning and couldn’t put the book down until the end. The characters were engaging and made me want to know more about them. Ms. Stone’s writing style was such a joy to read. She kept me attention the whole time and made it so I didn’t want to put the book down.
Adam made my heart hurt right from the beginning. He struggled with his faith and what it means to be a good person. He was all jumbled up with rules and feelings and how everything conflicted. Those mixed up and crazy emotions come through so clearly in the story. You can feel them with Adam. I loved watching him grow and figure out for himself what he believes. You can almost see Adam shedding the layers of guilt and repression his family heaped on him as the story progressed. By the end of the book you can tell he’s going to be happy and live a fulfilling life.
Brandon was a total sweetheart. even if the only part of the story from his point of view is at the very end, you still get to know him through Adam’s eyes. Brandon is a natural leader and gets along with everyone. He’s never met a stranger and was generally a happy guy. However he was also deep and had his own issues with his faith. You could tell being able to talk out his questions and hangups was exactly what he needed. Brandon was someone you could easily see yourself being friends with. He felt real in the story and like you could truly go visit him and spend time with him.
Adam and Brandon are amazing together. I love how they slowly build up to being together. They work on their friendship and fellowship before admitting to each other who they truly are. The way their faith keeps them closed off and apart is heartbreaking making their personal crises that much more painful. I adored the way the Mormon faith was woven into the story and portrayed throughout. Ms. Stone showed what it was like as a member of Latter Day Saints and all the nuances that go into living that faith. Adam and Brandon are so complete and content at the end of the story. You can’t help but be excited for them to live out their life together. It’s such a beautiful happily ever after. I want more of these two. I want to see them throughout life and how they tackle everything that comes their way. However I don’t have to see it. After everything they overcome you know they’re going to make it. Their love will last and they will handle whatever life throws in their path.
I’m quite excited to have Ms. Stone and Adam join us today. They’re here so Adam can talk about heroes. He tells us who his is and some wonderful things about his heroes. I adore his answer and I hope you do too. Read and enjoy!
Thank you so much for hosting me on my book tour! I’m delighted to be here. Well, I believe you asked for our protagonist, Adam Young, a young LDS missionary the reader meets as he begins serving in Barcelona, Spain, a few questions. I’ll turn the keyboard over to him. He’s a little nervous after everything he’s been through, but he warms up pretty quickly.
Who is your hero and why?
Gosh, this one is easy. Well, I say it’s easy now, but I would have really struggled with this before. Um, before I came out, I guess you’d say. Before I left Spain and moved to California. Before Brandon.
Growing up, I would have said that my hero was the Mormon prophet, whoever that was at the time. A Man of God, the head of our church, that sort of thing. It would have been something I was taught to say, or rather, something that I know would have made my parents proud for my having said it.
And it’s fine, I suppose, for people—active members—to think that. But now I think I define a hero differently. To me, a hero is someone who knows it’s going to be hard but they do it anyway, and they do it because it’s the right thing to do. A hero is someone who makes huge sacrifices for other people. A hero is, or rather, heroes are people like Brandon’s mom and dad, Sandra and Bob Christensen.
I get a little emotional talking about them, so you’ll have to forgive me if I stumble while I get this out. Sister Christensen, and I know she keeps telling me to call her Sandra, but she’s Brandon’s mom, she took me into her home without batting an eyelash. She knew I, well, that I loved her son, and obviously she knows I’m a man, and she never made me feel like that was an issue. She made me a key to the house the next day, in fact, said everyone in the family has one.
The Christensens don’t have the biggest place—it’s pretty expensive in California, and they have five kids living at home, six if you count me—so we’re all crammed in pretty tight. And even though there’s not a lot of privacy or a quiet place to go, it’s maybe the nicest place I’ve ever lived. Hmm, maybe I should say this is the happiest place I’ve ever lived. That’s because of Brandon’s mom.
She just… Gosh, she’s so nice. She’s funny and silly and is such a mom about things. She does this thing where when anyone is leaving she’ll just keep on doing what she’s doing, but she’ll stick her cheek out waiting for a kiss. My mother isn’t really… She’s not affectionate. Sandra Christensen, though, she is. Like, a lot. She’s just really warm and nice and always seems to know when anyone is feeling down or confused and knows just what to say to turn it around.
Brandon keeps saying it’s okay for us to kiss in front of her like his older sister does with her boyfriend, and heck, Sandra says that, too, but it’s hard. I told her I wanted to respect the rules and she kissed my arm—she’s pretty small, practically pocket-sized—and told me I was a good kid. She said that my being in love with her son made her happy. She said that all any moms want is for their children to be loved by a good person, gay or straight or otherwise, and that she can see I make Brandon happy, and that makes her happy.
Yeah. She’s great.
Then there’s Brandon’s dad, Bob. I won’t lie: He made me nervous at first. He’s a big guy, still pretty fit. He plays basketball with a rec league, used to coach his kids’ teams, that sort of thing. He’s a man’s man, you know? I guess I kept expecting him to be like my father.
Bob Christensen is nothing like my father.
Okay, I want to tell you something, and don’t tell him I said this, but the other night, Mary—oh, that’s Brandon’s youngest sister. She’s a pistol—was upset about something. I think some of the kids in her class were making fun of her about needing braces. If that had happened in my house growing up, my father would have told me to stop being focused on my looks, to suck it up and stop whining about it, or pray for their hearts to be softened. That sort of thing.
I couldn’t help myself. I watched from the kitchen as he pulled Mary into his lap and held her. He listened to her, didn’t say anything about her crying, poor kid, and just… He wiped away her tears and stroked her hair and let her talk and talk and talk. And let me tell you, Mary can talk. Then he held her, and they sat together in his big chair watching TV, and every now and then he’d just kiss her head, smile down at her and…
He’s just a really good dad. I don’t know why it makes me feel achy and lonely when I see Bob and Sandra act that way with their kids. Funny, huh? But they’re just great. I’d probably do anything for them if they asked. I hope to be able to repay them one day for all they’ve done for me, picking me up in Salt Lake, letting me stay in their house, gosh, not even freaking out a little bit about the whole gay thing. I don’t know what I’d have done if they hadn’t let me stay with them and Brandon. Probably be on the streets, I guess. My folks made their feelings about it pretty clear.
I’m just really lucky. I feel so, so lucky to be welcomed in their house and into their family, in a manner of speaking. I know I think of them as mine. Yeah, they’re my heroes.
As Christensen walked behind Adam to switch on the clippers, Adam shivered, closed his eyes and tried to stop the repetitive battle between thoughts of how this was wrong versus how desperately he wanted Christensen to get on with it. He wanted something to happen.
All thoughts were driven out when Christensen laid a strong, firm hand between his shoulder blades to hold Adam still while he worked. Everything, every thought and feeling, and heck, the very universe was centered on those minuscule points of contact between Christensen’s hand and Adam’s bared skin. Adam chanced a look after a while but shut his eyes again when he was confronted with his companion squatting directly in front of him, squinting at Adam’s sideburns to ensure they were the same length. Christensen’s breath moved over Adam’s lips, they were so close. He kept his eyes screwed shut; his heart beat a wild tattoo in his aching chest.
Christensen’s hand suddenly cupped the side of Adam’s neck, and, at the shocking sensation of a thumb sweeping softly over Adam’s pulse point, he let out a tiny gasp.
“Oh, my gosh,” Christensen said, his voice worried. “Did I nick you?”
“Hmm? Oh, no, no, sorry. It’s fine. You’re fine.”
Christensen laughed. His voice was still soft as he teased, “Oh! So, you’re just afraid I’m doing a bad job?”
“Then relax. You look like you expect me to punch you.” He patted Adam’s shoulder and gave him a squeeze. “Just need to taper this bit in the back and you’re all done.”
Christensen rubbed the palm of his hand over Adam’s head to dislodge any hairs. The friction centered itself in Adam’s skull, radiated in sensual ripples down his spine, then settled low with a pulse to match Adam’s heartbeat when Christensen leaned over to blow a few pale blond strays off the backs of his ears. Adam’s skin stippled with goose bumps. Was he imagining it? Was Christensen making an extra effort to get things just right, making sure every possible stray hair was carefully blown away or brushed off his neck and shoulders with the flat of his hand, merely in order to keep touching Adam? Or did Adam just hope so?
Laura Stone, a descendant of pioneer polygamists from the early days of the Mormon Church and a former Gospel Doctrine teacher, now keeps busy as a media blogger, ghostwriter and novelist when she’s not raising her youngest child.
While the majority of her family still lives in Utah, she resides in Texas because it’s where the good tamales are. Her first novel, The Bones of You, was published by Interlude Press in 2014 and was named a finalist for a Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, Bitter Springs, was published by Interlude Press in 2015.
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