Erryn reviews A Clean Break (Gay Amish Romance Series Book #2) by Keira Andrews, published February 3, 2015 by KA Books, 266 pages. The audiobook was released by Tantor Media on September 24, 2019, is 9hrs and 17mins and is narrated by John Solo. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read the book: I listened to the first book and desperately wanted to know what happened next.
They’ve escaped to the outside world – but can they really be free?
David and Isaac have found happiness in each other’s arms. In faraway San Francisco, Isaac’s brother Aaron helps them explore confusing “English” life and move beyond the looming shadow of their Amish roots. For the first time, David and Isaac can be openly gay, yet they struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their faith. At least they don’t have to hide their relationship, which should make everything easier. Right?
But while Isaac thrives at school and makes new friends, David wrestles to come to terms with the reality of the outside world. Haunted by guilt at leaving his mother and sisters behind in Zebulon, he’s overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the city as he works to get his carpentry business off the ground.
While David and Isaac finally sleep side by side each night, fear and insecurity could drive them miles apart.
Contains mature themes.
A Forbidden Rumspinga ended rather abruptly. With a happy ending, to be sure, but the two young men were running away and poof, book over. Now, I knew this was a series and the next audio was coming out shortly, so no big deal. I really wanted to see what happened to David and Isaac after they left Zebulon. After they walked (or ran) away from their community and families. I knew it would be hard for both of them, to be sure, but that David would have a more difficult time. In a patriarchal household, he’d become the head when his father died two years ago. He’s leaving behind a mother recovering from an illness and several younger sisters. No man around to do the heavy lifting, so to speak.
The men make their way to San Francisco to meet up with Isaac’s older brother Aaron who ran away from the Amish lifestyle years ago. He’s married and settled in San Fran, loving his life but always a piece of his heart is back with the family he abandoned. He sees the opportunity to help Isaac and David as a redemption of sorts. He loves his brother and here is a chance to show it in a way he never could back in the cloistered community. As his wife Jen points out, there are a lot of hugs, affection, and “I love yous” going around. Jen is from a very demonstrative Filipino family and they are free with their emotions as well. No one is repressed around here.
Which makes the transition from the Amish to the “English” that much more daunting for Isaac and David. At Aaron’s urging, Isaac returns to school to earn his GED. Meanwhile, David sets up a wood shop and returns to carpentry. It’s not that he doesn’t want to learn, but he’s got a successful business and a solid way to earn money. He feels more beholden the Aaron and Jen, not wanting to live off their good graces forever. But Aaron is a high school math teacher and Jen is an ER doc, so they make good money. Never once do they do anything to make the men feel anything less than welcome. The obligation is in David’s head. That was okay with me because I know I’d feel the same way.
Adjusting to life in the big city is confusing. From shopping for clothes (boxers or briefs?) to gay clubs to navigating the transit system, the men are confronted with challenges and frustrations at every turn. Isaac seems to handle things better and maybe that’s because Aaron is his brother and he doesn’t feel like quite the interloper.
Now, the structure of this book is interesting and one I don’t see often. The first book in the series was entirely from Isaac’s point of view. As the naïve one of the pair, it made sense to see things from his perspective. To watch his fascination as the “English” world is slowly revealed to him and as he slowly explores his feelings for another man – forbidden to say the least.
This second book is entirely from David’s perspective. Again, a deliberate choice. He struggles more with adapting and things like clubbing, alcohol, and generally being comfortable with being ‘out’ are things he struggles with. Like I said, Isaac seems to be adapting better, although a confrontation near the end of the book shows that life isn’t perfect for the younger man either.
Warning – this book ends on a cliffhanger. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it, but, needless to say, I’ll be drumming my fingers until the final audio is released.
Any review would not be complete without mentioning John Solo. In the book, it is pointed out that the boys have German accents. I can understand not following that as it would have been challenging and likely overwhelming to the listener. What John does provide is a solid performance with each character having a distinctive voice. He brings emotion to each character – whether Isaac’s enthusiasm at seeing the Pacific Ocean or David’s stress at being responsible for so many things. There is also humor in this book – imagine the discussion about condoms, periods, douches, STIs…you get the gist of it. Nothing is off limits as Aaron teaches the two younger men about life outside of Zebulon.
I can’t wait for the next book.
10/10 pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars