3 out of 4 stars
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Self-discovery is an arduous process and is even more so when the world says that you are an abomination. As a gay man who enjoys polyamory, Jesse de Marchi’s love journey is anything but easy. The story follows Jesse’s story at different ages. At age 11, we meet Charlie, Jesse’s first brush with queerness. We also meet Dani, Jesse’s first love and protector. As a young boy, Jesse struggles with his sexuality and with “coming out.” As an adult, Jesse is trying to accept himself for who he is, but he battles jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, and a fear of abandonment. Despite having many lovers, he is still dissatisfied. Can Jesse ride the stormy waves of his heart without drowning? Hard Journey of the Heart: Jesse’s Story by Mark Zullo is the story of one man’s fears, passions, queerness, and sexual escapades.
I must first say that if you are homophobic, this book is not for you. And if you dislike erotica, you should leave this novel alone. The author narrates this story through the protagonist, Jesse. We see everything through Jesse’s eyes and connect with his experiences on a personal level. I enjoyed that Jesse was ever so human; his need for validation and love, especially when he was younger, was relatable and heart-moving. I also enjoyed the relationships the author created; Jesse and Dani’s relationship was not sexual, but the author managed to make it profound. The author also brilliantly wrote Jesse’s relationship with other characters, even the ones that I only read about once.
Jesse made trips to different locations, including Texas and Puerta Vallarta, and I enjoyed visiting those places through him. The author gave me the ranch feel of Texas, and when we went to Mexico, I felt the exotic, colorful vibes. Through the vivid descriptions of these different locations, the author showed that he is a master of imagery. The author also vividly described the sex scenes, so any reader that feels uncomfortable with sex will not like it. If you are just comfortable with reading about sex, this book may make you squirm; the author was not joking when he said in the book’s description that there is a lot of sex in it!
The only complaint I have about this book is that it threw me right into the story with no preamble or ease. The start of the story introduces us to Jesse at 23 years old; he is with Carlos. Later in the story, we meet Jesse at different ages. Jesse's stories did not blend well, and they left me in occasional confusion. For this disruption in my flow of reading, I deduct a star and rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
The author used flashbacks and jumped back and forth in time. While this model may be perfect for a movie, it was a bit difficult to follow in the book. The editors did a wonderful job editing this book, and I found no other fault with this book, so I cannot rate it lower. Hard Journey of the Heart: Jesse’s Story is perfect for readers who love gay erotica. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community and are still struggling to accept yourself, you will find a kindred spirit and some lessons to learn in Jesse’s story.
Hard Journey of the Heart: Jesse's Story
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