Book Reviews

Proud (DC Pride 1) by Tatum West

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 12-September-2019

Book Blurb

Did you hear the one about the rich parents who sent their kid to conversion therapy? You didn’t? Well, that’s because it’s not funny. And it didn’t work.

I’m a trust fund baby. The boy with the summer trips to France, the Mercedes for his sixteenth birthday, and the fancy degree from Georgetown. I have everything. But my family didn't believe me when I came out. I've lived my truth for years, but they just don't get it.

The moment I see Jesse Boatwright, though, I start forming a plan. Jesse needs cash, and I need a date for my sister's debutante ball. But Jesse dislikes everything about me. He says I’m rich and spoiled, and I was born with a silver spoon shoved straight down my throat. That's fine. He's just my date.

But when Jesse kisses me, his lips tell a different tale. I can feel the depth of his need, the desire in his veins. I wish I could block out the world and hold him forever, but he keeps pushing me away. He tells me he’s a freak, a screw-up, a liar, that we could never be together. There are secrets Jesse is keeping; I just don’t know what they are yet. 

When I finally discover the terrors that lie in his past, Jesse is already part of my story. I’m head over heels, falling hard, and ready to show Jesse that he’s exactly the man I need.

I lied to get a job. Well, it’s bigger than that. I lied copiously to get a job, and my boss is the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. 

Will Marshall is everything I never wanted. His blood is Confederate blue, and his parents own the Country Club of Virginia. His money dates back to Queen Victoria, and I’d rather not imagine his family’s history when it comes to civil rights. 

But Will is kind and strong, and those bedroom eyes make me want to drop out of my office chair. He’s beautiful, and not just physically. Every inch of him is good and pure, and I’m filled with lies. 

I haven’t been with a guy since my ex gave me a black eye, burned all my stuff, and stole my cat. I don’t have money to pay rent, and I don’t have a degree from anywhere, let alone a doctorate in physical therapy. I’m not half the person Will thinks I am. 

But I’m falling in love with him. I can’t let him know that. After the deb ball, I need to quit this job and leave town before he finds out what I really am.

When he holds me, though, I feel real again, like a person worth loving. When danger is on the horizon, I just have to decide if Will Marshall is worth the risk.

Book Review

“I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.” ~ Somaly Mam (The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine)

Jesse, of ‘Proud’ by Tatum West, is running from an abusive relationship. He is hiding ou’ at his cousin Vince’s, apartment. He should feel relatively safe, but, since he is still receiving threatening text messages from his ex, Gabe, he doesn’t. Jesse is scared and alone, afraid to even go outside for fear that Gabe will somehow find and be waiting for him. He needs to connect with someone so he creates a Grindr account but, so far hasn’t used it. Yet he is captivated by a man named WILL3. Jesse needs a job. He applies for one for which he is not qualified, but gets an interview. Imagine Jesse’s surprise when the boss who is to interview Jesse turns out to be WILL3., the man Jesse has been secretly lusting after.

Jesse bluffs his way through the interview; Will is so impressed with him that he hires him on the spot, without even checking his references. Jesse sighs in relief. He really needs the money. He is behind in the rent and can’t afford to buy food. Jesse tries to appease his guilt about lying by endeavoring to learn the job well and to be the best he can be at it. To Will’s surprise, Jesse turns out to be one of their best employees, bringing in a substantial number of contracts for the company. Jesse is also determined not to become involved with Will, no matter how much he wants to.

Will is impressed by Jesse’s dedication and success; he’s convinced that he made a good decision by hiring him. When Will gets another call from his mother, reminding him of his sister’s debutante ball and suggesting a young lady that she should bring, he loses his temper. He has told his parents many times that he is gay but they will not accept it. As an act of defiance, Will tells her that he will come and will bring a date, but that it will be a man. She is upset, but chooses not to believe him. Since Will isn’t dating anyone right now, he decides to ask Jesse to go with him as his pretend boyfriend. If Jesse accepts his proposal, it will be strictly business and he will be well compensated. To prepare for the farce, Will and Jesse hang out together, practicing the whole boyfriend thing. All is going well until Jesse on an alcohol fueled impulse, kisses Will. After that, Will can’t help but think that their relationship could be more... a lot more.

This book was even better than I expected. Although it incorporated a lot of serious issues like partner abuse and the lasting effects of being in that situation, it also offered hope, not letting the past dictate your future. There were a lot of obstacles to be overcome, but eventually, love turned out to be a healing force for both Will and Jesse. Another feature of the story that tickled me was that Tatum included characters from her ‘Abingdon’ series who I had grown to know and love: Gil, Nikki, and his husband Fox as friends of Jesse’s. Since I live in Northern Virginia, near DC, many of the things she mentioned are familiar, adding to my reading pleasure. I’m going to venture a guess that the next book in the series will be about Vince and Bates and I am looking forward to seeing their relationship progress. Thanks, Tatum, for a great read.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 241 pages/67000 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 19-July-2019
Price $4.99 ebook, $9.99 paperback
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