Knowing 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.
We first meet Jase in Fading where he shows us just how selfless and beautiful a friendship can be as he supports his best friend Candace through one of the worst experiences of her life. We are given glimpses into Jase’s life: his problems with his family, his relationship with Mark. But it always came from Candace’s point of view, and you knew that there was a lot Jase kept from her, not wanting to burden her when she had so many of her own troubles to contend with. This book gives us the chance to really know Jase’s story which takes place during the same time period as Fading.
After leaving his hometown for college in Seattle Jase can finally admit that he is gay. He likes guys, he likes hooking up with guys but the one thing Jase will not do is become committed to another guy. Being in a relationship with a man would make it all too “real” for him, and that is something that he is not quite ready for yet, or ever. Then Jase meets Mark.
“Here I believed, for the past three years, that I’ve been an openly gay man, but truth is, I’m still hiding. I didn’t really see it until Mark came along. He made me realize just how scared of these feelings I actually am. I don’t want a relationship with him because I’m afraid that will make it too real for me. Define me. Gay. Fag. Queer. Fuck. Am I ready for that?”
In Freeing we get to follow Jase’s journey of finally accepting who he is and not letting anything stand in the way of what he wants. Jase’s growth throughout the book is truly inspiring as we watch him battle through coming out to his parents, his insecurities and just letting himself be loved.
Mark is the perfect man for Jase, his patience, kindness and compassion balance them perfectly. He is understanding about Jase’s insecurities and never pushes him to do anything he is not comfortable with. But at the same time his love for Jase challenges Jase to confront his demons and finally accept and love who he is.
“I was scared because I’ve never done this before. I’ve never wanted to be around another guy the way I want to be around you. The thing is… I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing… it wasn’t until I met you that I realized I was terrified to admit that I’m gay. I mean, I’ve always known, but the idea of a relationship just seemed too defining, and I wasn’t sure I was ready. I… a part of me is still really uncomfortable with this”
Seeing Candace’s ordeal from Jase’s POV was heartbreaking. The pain he felt at seeing someone he loved in agony, and the helplessness and guilt he felt at not being able to do anything for her was so emotional to read. I cried, a lot, and not that over-dramatic sobbing, but the silent tears that you get when your heart aches and there are no words to describe the emotions coursing through your body!
Mark’s support of both Candace and especially Jase was something we never got to see in Fading, and was another thing that made me so glad that this book was written.
“Fighting to be free. But now I realize, it isn’t about fighting.It’s letting go of the fight to see that what I’ve been searching for is within him. Mark is my freeing.”
From page one I knew I was in for another emotional ride. We’ve known Jase as a strong, loyal and supportive friend, but this book gives us everything else: the pain, the loneliness and the insecurity. A brain melting, heart aching, soul wrenching emotional roller-coaster of a story. E.K.Blair is not afraid to write about the difficult subjects and I have so much respect for the way she writes and the raw honesty we get. This really is such a powerful story, but I would definitely make sure to read Fading first.
As an extra, I absolutely LOVE the covers from this series. They are so simple but powerful at the same time.
Freeing was the perfect follow up book to Fading and full of just as much emotion and heartbreaking than the first book in this trilogy. I loved seeing perts of Fading from a different POV, will definitely be reading more E.K.Blair in the future!
Re-Readability: Hell Yes!
I would recommend this book to fans of: NA romance, healing romance, books with real life issues, same sex couples