Doing it at: 45%
Catnip: Amish Romance; All of the P, None of the V; Forbidden Love; Guilt; Virgins; Team Anal; Creative Lube; Versatile
Shame Scale: Not as much as you’d think! But it does have the most ridiculous title ever.
Fantasy Cast: Josh Hutcherson; Logan Lerman
When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?
In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.
Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.
Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?
We read a bit of everything here at Mybookshame, and we’ve been curious about all the Amish romance we’re seeing out there. Sometimes (often) we buy books because they sound hilariously bad. So when ‘A Forbidden Rumspringa (Gay Amish Romance Book 1)’ popped up in my recommended titles, how could I not one-click? That’s possibly the best hokey title in my entire library. Also, gay romance = super hot and is a huge catnip of mine. All of the P, none of the V. Giggity giggity.
Truth: I expected this book to be terrible. Culturally exploitive, poorly written, religious, eye rolling sex… You guys, I was wrong. I really LIKED this book. Maybe even loved it a little bit. It totally drew me in, I became invested in the characters, and I maybe cried a tiny bit. This is one of those books where the experience of reading it is really coloring my review. I read most of this book while up in the woods, camping with friends. I like to read with an ultra-lazy large print, and this book even managed to suck in one of the guys who happened to catch a few pages. Seriously – I read roughly 25% of this book with a 21 year old straight guy looking over my shoulder. He tried to be casual about it, all, “I’m just here to be goofy,” but meanwhile, every time I turned around, who had pulled up a chair behind me? WARNING. Spoilers abound.
Isaac and David are two twenty-ish guys about to join the church in Zebulon, a small, ultra-conservative Amish community in northern Minnesota. Zebulon was formed by a few families in response to the “wildness” of their previous community back in Pennsylvania (buggies with rubber wheels and windshields! Teens smoking tobacco! I know, I KNOW I shouldn’t laugh but). Both David and Isaac’s families were personally affected: Isaac’s brother left without a word, and David’s brother was killed in a meth-fueled swimming accident along with a few other kids. Zebulon does not permit a Rumspringa, and the children are raised very strictly.
Isaac’s father sets him up with an apprenticeship under David, the local carpenter. Isaac feels an attraction to David, but doesn’t understand why he feels the way he does, and he spends a lot of time feeling guilty for having “dangerous thoughts.” He is dreading finding a wife and joining the church, a so-called choice that is offered up as the only option.
David and Isaac become close, and David lets Isaac in on his secret life, where he goes out into the “English” world to sell furniture and see movies. After a night at the drive-in, they give into their attraction and get to second base. And then after that the book gets pretty steamy. For two guys raised with out any sexual education, let alone ever hearing the word gay, they figure out what to do with all their parts pretty smoothly. The first time they put the P in the B, David conveniently has saddle grease ready. Lubrication is just instinctual I guess. There’s lots of dirty talk like, “fill me up,” n’at – but, in a tasteful way… Somehow this book managed to pull off lines like:
Isaac pressed a kiss to David’s rough palm. The verboten English word felt dangerous on his tongue. “Fuck me.”
David and Isaac keep up their secret romance, fooling around in horse stalls and taking forbidden showers in the barn, but the two are fairly consumed with guilt and confusion. They’re very fatalistic, open about how happy they make each other, and the inevitable end to their relationship. They’ve been raised with very little education about the real world, and homosexuality is not something they have any framework for understanding. David saw a gay couple in a movie once, and they marvel about how it could possibly be ok for two men to love each other in the English world. They know that they could never be together in their community, but that they would never be happy as married men. Isaac begins to visualize an alternative future where he leaves, while David is tied to the responsibility of supporting his mother and sisters.
That’s all I’m saying. You should read it. I’ve read other m/m romances where the characters fear coming out for whatever reason, but this is the first one where the characters’ future in their community felt truly doomed. The descriptions of Amish life were fascinating, and made this book feel almost like a historical. AND it got the seal of approval from my new buddy who has never read a romance before but left camp vowing to start. There are two more books in this series, and I absolutely downloaded the second one the moment I was back to the land of wi-fi. B+
And then I’m going to confess to this. One of the nights at camp, we all had a few drinks around the campfire and got the men to read scenes from different romance novels, with voices. As in: “Now do Mickey Mouse! Now Gilbert Gottfried! Now do your grandma! Now Quagmire!” So picture this:
David tasted of pot pie – meat and butter and warmth.
Isaac could feel it deep within him, and the thought that their seed was mixed inside him made him whimper. He wanted to plug himself up and keep it there forever.
Except in the voices of Batman and Bane.
Life = made.