A Shot at Forgiveness - Cardeno C. This review can be found at The Armchair Reader.

3.5 stars

Still harboring bitterness toward his high school bully, Isaac Jones, Rafi is flabbergasted when Isaac stumbles across him and acts like they’re long lost friends. While Rafi just wants to get as far away from Isaac as possible, Isaac has something else in mind, a secret he’s been keeping since they went to school together. Determination doesn’t even begin to describe Isaac when he’ll do whatever it takes to win Rafi over once and for all.

At first, Rafi is standoffish and borderline rude to Isaac. It was interesting to see how angry Rafi was towards Isaac even twelve years after the fact. As the story progresses, Rafi melts to Isaac’s charms, which was definitely entertaining! Isaac, on the other hand, is persistent and will do anything (even breaking and entering) to worm his way into Rafi’s life and heart. It was funny to see Isaac think what he was doing was okay when it was obvious Rafi hated Isaac being there. I found Isaac just so adorable. He’s a bit of a stalker and slightly obsessed but this big, tall guy that wasn’t afraid of anything was afraid of Rafi’s rejection BUT even when Rafi did reject him, he kept coming back and breaking down Rafi’s walls until Rafi admitted defeat.

If you haven’t already guessed, this story revolves around forgiveness. Rafi is very hurt by how Isaac used to treat him. However, as the story evolves, you realize that Rafi’s view on everything isn’t exactly the whole picture. What you come to realize is that Isaac might have said some mean things to Rafi but his actions were quite different. Rafi remembers Isaac as this mean, cruel bully but as it’s remembers (sans flashbacks thankfully!), he’s portrayed as this hero. Constantly saving Rafi from getting injured or hurting himself more than his klutziness already has. It’s sweet in a way but it’s obvious that Rafi was a little oblivious to this because of his focus on Isaac’s words instead of his actions.

The story had a lot of potential but I think, considering the length of the book, it didn’t exactly live up to that potential. While entertaining and enjoyable, I felt like some things were rushed or even were easy platitudes considering the situation. For instance, the resolution to Isaac coming out was nice but we don’t actually see it put into action so that felt too ‘easy,’ IMO. I felt like Rafi also caved too early to Isaac’s pursuits. Rafi was basing his forgiveness off Isaac’s sexual prowess instead of actually making Isaac grovel in a nonsexual way, which had me a bit sad because it would have been funny seeing Isaac doing whatever Rafi wanted without hesitation. I’m not usually one to get hung up on endearments but I didn’t like Isaac calling Rafi ‘boo’ it kept making me feel like Rafi was just a one-night stand that Isaac would forget in the morning. While that is obviously NOT the case, I couldn’t help feel like it wasn’t appropriate to who Rafi was to Isaac. Aside from that, Rafi had a tendency to think of Isaac as ‘Isaac Jones’ as if he was still in awe over Isaac, which got slightly annoying towards the end of the book and even though he was in love and comfortable around Isaac, he still considered him as ‘Isaac Jones.’ Lastly, I wished there had been some scenes of Isaac meeting Rafi’s friends or vice versa just to show that these two are serious because, unfortunately, most of the scenes of them together consist of them in Rafi’s apartment (more specifically his bedroom).

Overall, this was a very cute short story. It’s light-hearted and liable to give you a silly little smile. The characters were amusing and their journey to forgiveness was entertaining. I really wish this book had been much longer, though, because I feel like a little more groveling on Isaac’s part was needed but other than that, it’s a good story for someone who’s looking for something light and sweet.