Release Day Review - Caged Jaye (Arctic Absolution) by Lynn Kelling Inclu. Giveaway
Title: Caged Jaye
Series: Artic Absolution
Author: Lynn Kelling
Genre: BDSM, Contemporary, Drama, Gay, GLBT
Length: 176 Pages
Publisher: Forbidden Fiction
It’s Jaye Larson’s nineteenth birthday, and all he wants is to spend time with his boyfriend, Kris, and his mother — the people he loves most, who make life worth living. But faced with his mother’s demons, the imperfections of his relationship with Kris, and dangerous, homophobic strangers, one by one, all of Jaye’s dreams are soon derailed. Plunging into a waking nightmare, shortly after going to bed alone, Jaye wakes in an alley, pinned down by two men with slow, bloody rape and murder in mind. It’s just the start of Jaye’s fight for his life, and his sanity, as time and time again, he’s forced to make impossible choices to survive, no matter what it costs. (M/M)
It was one of Jaye’s favorite spots, which was why he’d chosen it for his birthday date with Kris. The slices of cake on the menu were a bonus his raging sweet tooth appreciated. They were always huge portions of a slew of many tempting flavors with heaping mounds of icing, though his favorite was the pistachio cake with honey vanilla buttercream icing. His mouth watered, thinking about it. Just being there, across from Kris, and with nothing left to worry about, made his spirits rise. Slowly, he allowed himself to forget the rest of the things trying to weigh him down.
“This is perfect. I’ve been looking forward to being here with you all day. Work was good?” he asked Kris, who looked kind of great, actually, in a blue V-neck sweater and khakis. Kris worked in the mortgage department of a local bank, after rising through the ranks from an entry level position he’d landed thanks to a temp agency.
“Yeah, same as usual. Lots of paperwork. Nothing to complain or get excited about either. You?”
Jaye leaned forward over the table, trying to tune out the hustle and bustle around them. If he worked to focus only on the sound of Kris’s sweet, smooth voice and the faint scent of his cologne, Jaye could almost pretend they had some privacy. Under the table, he nudged Kris’s foot and tried to get him to grin.
“It was good. Normal. Not too busy. Layla surprised me with a cupcake after my shift was over and sang Happy Birthday. It was crazy thoughtful of her.” He left out he parts about Mark making things tense. Whenever Jaye mentioned things like that, Kris would urge him to quit and find a new job, but Jaye had worked too hard to climb the ranks at the store to ever think of bailing because of one tight-ass kid. He didn’t want to have to start over somewhere new.
Kris got a weird look on his face, a sour smile. “That’s a little weird though, right? She’s not your girlfriend.”
“She’s just a nice person. It’s not a big deal. She just thought it would be a fun surprise, since I had to work on my birthday and all. Why, you jealous?”
Jaye bit his lip with a sly grin, turning on the charm to draw Kris out, the shyer of the two of them by far. He held Kris’s gaze as he tried not to answer, which was totally an answer. Beneath the table, Jaye slid the toes of his right foot up Kris’s calf, getting a cute little smile out of him.
It was just loud enough for them to hear, and came from one of the older guys on the stools, to their right.
“Ignore it,” Kris said tightly. He lifted the menu, looking down at it and pulling his leg away from Jaye’s foot.
Furious, Jaye had to look around. It figured that as soon as things would start to get good, some loudmouth would ruin it. He was pretty sure the asshole homophobe was one of the barrel-chested guys in hunting gear seated a few feet away.
“Stop looking!” Kris hissed.
But Jaye kept on staring, feeling his anger rising, fast. At first, the big hunters kept their gaze averted. Jaye’s fists clenched. His legs tensed. He would have loved nothing better than to spring out of their booth and punch those motherfuckers in the face for throwing hate at strangers who were minding their own business.
One of the guys met his gaze, then held it. He was the one without a beard, or a chin either. It had been swallowed by his neck.
Yeah, that was the guy.
Reading Caged Jaye, by Lynn Kelling, has been a struggle from the very first page till the very last. I’ve had to read it in moderation which isn’t something I like to do, but it was warranted. Lynn writes stories that cause the reader to bleed right along with her characters. Going through Jaye’s journey is hard and often caused me to put it down because the tears that were pouring down my face would be starting a migraine very soon.
Caged Jaye is the prequel to Arctic Absolution which was released last year. Either one can be read first, but knowing what I know now, about Jaye, what he’s been through… I don’t know which way I would go, if I had to pick. He’s just a young teenage boy who has been handed the worst deal of anyone I know. And, after Caged Jaye, I feel like I know him pretty well.
Jaye is a character that will stay with you for a very long time. Saying he’s had a rough life doesn’t even break the surface of what he’s been through. One blow right after another and he keeps getting back up. Lynn doesn’t cut any corners or sugar coat his journey. It’s painful, it’s brutal, it’s heartbreaking on every level.
Jaye, it seems, only ever sees the worst side of humanity. He’s such a kind hearted young man who loves his momma, even though she doesn’t know he even exists most of the time. He loves his job where he’s trying to be a grown up and earn his own way, his co-workers. He loves Kris, his boyfriend, who appears to only put up with him. Yet, when he needs these people, they are nowhere to be found, nowhere.
Waking up, days later, after one of the most brutal and horrific attacks a person should never-never have to endure, ever, Jaye is left to himself to wonder why no one loves him enough to be by his side. It broke my heart, over and over, as Jaye tried to call his mom with no answer. Where was she? Was she dead? Drugged out of her mind? Laid up as someone’s whore for the night and stoned out of her mind?
Where in the hell was she while her only son lay in a hospital after someone tried to murder him so brutally that I had to keep laying the book down in order to get through it. Days later, I’m still pissed off and on the verge of tears as I remember what he suffered.
The justice system has no sympathy for Jaye either as he is sentenced, after his rehabilitation, for chasing down one of his attackers that horrific night. Riding on the bus, with other prisoners, on the way to Jaye’s new home for the next two years starts to impact Jaye in ways he never expected. No one wants to go to prison, but Jaye realizes if he’s going to survive he needs a plan.
He’s always known he was pretty, too pretty for a boy, too slim, and with his long curly hair he was used to getting catcalls and looks, but now it’s time for his features to work in his favor. If he has to whore himself out for protection, that’s what he plans to do. It’s a good plan, unless it backfires, and he won’t know until he puts it to the test.
Walking up to Cash, with his head held high, was a risk, a big one that had no guarantees of paying off. Blocking out the prisoners who were looking and calling out names to Jaye was not easy, but he knows without someone who has respect within the prison on his side he won’t last even a day.
Offering himself to Cash in exchange for protection was the best thing Jaye could have ever done. It made long days and longer nights a little more bearable. It didn’t stop the ghosts that were constantly screaming in his head, constantly reminding him of the rape and torture and extreme pain he had already lived through but it would help him to stay on guard and watch his back.
Even with Cash and the Disciples watching out for Jaye there were still times that he was left unprotected. And he paid for those times, again and again, enduring unbelievable pain and anguish, resulting in being laid up for days in the hospital ward of the prison. But, each time, Jaye continued to fight, continued to walk past his hecklers with his head held high, continued to show resistance to their evil looks that he didn’t always feel but refused to let them see.
Jaye went into FCI Sheridan a young and naïve boy who had previously begged his boyfriend to make love to him and show him how sex could be. Now, he’s hardened in ways that we could not understand fully and with reason. Jaye, the young boy, is dead. He was killed a long time ago that horrific night. Now, Jaye is wise beyond his years, he has earned his own respect and paid his dues, multiple times. No one knows the real Jaye the same way no one knows the real Cash, except Jaye.
To the eyes that are always watching and waiting for their chance, look at Jaye and no longer see a boy but a man to be feared. He earned respect among his peers and alone at night in his cell, he earned the love of a hardened criminal named Cash.
This is a hard read, but it’s a journey worth taking. I have so much respect and admiration for Jaye and for Lynn who had the courage to write such a compelling and powerful story of perseverance. I think it helped that I had already read Arctic Absolution because I knew how Jaye’s future was going to turn out, but I had no idea his journey was going to be so hard to get there. No one will ever know what Jaye goes through or suffers silently but Jaye, but thank god, Dixon comes into his life later on. I would love to see Cash get his own story someday. There is no doubt that Jaye wouldn’t be here without him. However, Jaye found his own strength within and is one of the bravest characters I've ever read.
Kudos to Lynn Kelling for an amazing journey. I was destroyed, over and over, but I am so glad that I read this beautiful yet heart wrenching story. 5 stars from me.
**I want to thank the author for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review**
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