Goodbye Paradise (Hello, Goodbye, Book 1)
by Sarina Bowen
Genre: MM Romance
5 Paradise CROWNS
Sarina Bowen has completely knocked it out of the park with her newest MM romance. These boys are absolutely lovable, their story is heartbreaking and hopeful, and the writing, as always, is impeccable.
This story follows Caleb and Josh as they try to find their footing in the real world while navigating their feelings for each other, which they have had to repress for the last 19+ years. From the very beginning, readers hearts will ache for Josh. When first being introduced to his character, readers can tell his heart is pure and good, and that he lives his life trying to fly under the radar. What will really pull on the heartstrings, though, is his internal dialogue pertaining to Caleb and his unrequited love he has to suppress. Josh is incredible sensitive and even intuitive to the needs of others. Nurturing by nature, Josh excels at taking care of others, and once he escapes the confines of the compound, these attributes are seen as honorable characteristics versus ones to be ashamed of. Seeing Josh undergo such a transformation as the novel progresses is such a joy to watch, and I found myself feeling like Maggie and Washington, proud of him for who he became. Caleb is much more dominant of the two, the protector and provider. Readers will fall in love with him for the way he cares for Josh and for the way he gently pushes him for a public relationship without shoving him over the line. Caleb is constantly aware of what Josh needs and goes to great lengths to provide for him emotionally and physically. One aspect of his character that hurts to watch is his inability to let go of his guilt. He harbors a ton of self-loathing over what he feels he should have done to help certain characters in the story, which results in not only hurting himself but the people he loves most, especially Josh at times. Luckily, just as Josh does, Caleb evolves and learns to let go of the culpability he feels, allowing this couple to finally move on together from their experiences at the Compound.
I love the secondary characters of this story just as much as I love Caleb and Josh. They earn my adoration for the unwavering acceptance and support of both boys. Without these secondary characters, these two would have struggled to survive, to adjust to their new loves, and to find acceptance in the world for their love. Washington, Daniel, and Maggie all help and support them in their time of need, and their care for Caleb and Josh makes me love them all the more.
This story, like all of Sarina Bowen’s MM romance, is just beautiful. Every moment between Caleb and Josh is filled with so much love, and even when readers get the climax of the story and the intense standoff between the characters, it is clear that love is what drives the confrontation. What makes this story so engaging is seeing this couple change and grow independently as well as together. Seeing them deal with the emotional damage of the compound, the struggle of going public, and the handling the conflict of the story not only serves to develop Caleb and Josh as a character, but ultimately weaves a story the exhibits the reformative powers of love. Together, these two heal and become stronger, showcasing all the ways love is transformative.
Goodbye Paradise will be going into my favorite romances, and Caleb and Jacob will be taking one of the top spots as one of my favorite couples. Their story is absolutely engaging from the beginning of the story with its fully evolved characters, story of hope and love, and artfully constructed plot, and Sarina Bowen exemplifies the beauty of love and promotes that idea that everyone deserves it and has a right to celebrate it, which is a message that should be read by all.
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.