Review: “Riding with Brighton” by Haven Francis

TITLE: Riding with Brighton
AUTHOR: Haven Francis
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
COVER ARTIST: Aaron Anderson
GENRE: Contemporary Romance; Come To Age
LENGTH: 220 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2017
PRICE: $6.99 – e-book/ $14.99 – paperback


In the small town of Spring Valley, molds weren’t made to be broken, and high school senior Jay Hall’s been living comfortably in his popular jock one since adolescence. If it weren’t for the colorful, outspoken artistic anomaly Brighton Bello-Adler, he might have been willing to remain there. Unnaturally drawn to Brighton, Jay knows he needs something from him, but is he ready to find out what that something is?

Temporarily ditching his old life, Jay climbs into Brighton’s Bronco and finds himself on a whirlwind road trip through parts of his small town he didn’t know existed. When the excursion takes an unexpected turn, Jay is cracked wide open, and the person who’s revealed does strange things to Brighton’s heart.

But just when it appears they could be headed toward their own shared piece of paradise, the road takes a sharp right turn into Jay’s life—where the real trip is about to begin.

In an unconventional love story that defies labels, two young men embark on a journey toward growing up, coming out, and finding their place in the world. It’s a trip that ranges from heartbreaking to uplifting, funny to sweet, but always unique and personal.

This book was just… EVERYTHING! I’m absolutely certain there are not enough words in the English language that could convey how much I adored this amazing story. I’ve never read a book that has been more perfect or relevant for Pride month, and I don’t think I ever will again. Everything about the book and story was on point, there’s simply nothing about it that I can fault or criticize because it was flawless. These characters have found their own little space in my heart, and I’ll never be able to let them go.

Jay Hall is 18-years-old. He’s the popular jock with the pretty girlfriend, but when he looks in the mirror, he doesn’t like what he sees. The person looking back is all just a facade. Jay doesn’t like the person he’s become, which is basically a clone of his friends, same haircuts, same clothes, same shoes and a pretty girl next to them. Jay wants more than this and believes his life needs a change. But he’s scared of making the change because he doesn’t want everyone to turn against him. The highlight of his week is going to his history class because he gets to sit next to Brighton Bello-Adler, the guy that’s everything Jay wishes he could be.

Brighton is also 18-years-old. He’s confident, outgoing and artistic, he gets along with almost everyone in the school and their town, and nothing seems to ever get him down. His parents love him unconditionally, and completely accepts his sexuality, they even like to try and set him up occasionally, much to Brighton’s embarrassment. Brighton finds Jay attractive but knows there’s no point even thinking about him in that way because Jay is totally straight.

When Jay tells Brighton in class that he’s sick of the life that he’s leading and wants something different, starting with new friends, Brighton gives him his number. They agree to meet up to see if they can build on more than just the short conversations and banter from class. During their day and drive around together, Jay begins to discover more about himself and what he really wants from his life. He opens up to Brighton about all of his thoughts and feelings, and tells him things that he has never even admitted to himself up until now. Jay realizes that he doesn’t actually want to be like Brighton, but wants to be with him, as more than a friend. Jay has finally accepted that he’s gay, and that he’s been attracted to Brighton for a long time. He can’t keep living a lie any more because it’s destroying him inside, and if it means losing some people in his life then he’s willing to take that chance, to be able to be honest with himself and be free, and actually loving the person he sees when he looks in his mirror every morning.

This was the most beautifully written story, of self-acceptance, coming out and finding true happiness within. There were highs and lows, and moments that were just breathtaking. I was drawn to this book as soon as I read the blurb, something just called to me, and I knew I had to read it. I spent almost the whole book with my skin tingling, butterflies in my tummy and practically glowing with happiness. And when I finished…well, lets just say I was Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club (one of my favorite films of all time) my fist was in the air in victory and triumph, and my head and heart had Don’t You Forget About Me screaming out as I closed my kindle down. This was an astonishing piece of writing that couldn’t portray the love is love message any more perfectly if it tried. I am so grateful to the author for the privilege of being able to read this awe-inspiring story, I don’t think it’ll ever leave me.

***The ARC was provided by Harmony Ink Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book***


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