Review: Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg

One guy intent on caution. One an adrenaline junkie. Love could be one risk too many.
March is determined to lose the numbness that accompanies a history of loss and blame. Desperate to feel something—anything—the adrenaline junkie base jumps off cliffs, soars on hang gliders, and embarks on dangerous sea-borne rescue missions. But any release he feels is fleeting, and when you play Russian roulette with fate, eventually you come crashing down.
No matter how hard Caleb tries to forget his past, a dark shadow is always behind him. When a bizarre turn of events results in him being trapped in a sea cave, Caleb wonders how his mantra—safety at all costs—could have failed him. On the point of drowning, he’s stunned when March surfaces in the cave.
March’s disregard for the rules saves Caleb’s life but gets March into a heap of trouble. Not least of which is the guy shivering in the boat next to him. March tries to ignore Caleb but it’s already too late. Together, they take small, awkward steps toward love. But Caleb’s past is waiting to sink in its claws…and this time, it could drag him to his death.
Warning: This book contains difficult flashbacks of child abduction and sexual violence, but also the incredible perseverance of two men who never give up on love—or each other. Bring your tissues and a heart that believes in the resilience of the human spirit.


This book will not be for everyone. Just take a gander at the ratings thus far. To be completely honest, I had my doubts going in, but (a) I really have come to love Elsborg's writing over the last year and (b) the part of perseverance and never giving up on love appealed. I will also say that my job undoubtedly has inured me to childhood sexual abuse, so take this next bit with the proverbial grain of salt-I did not think there were any explicit mentions of the abuse but it is referenced and there is little doubt that it was a heinous and miserable experience. This is the sad reality of the population I work with and the truth is hardly any of them have overcome and/or persevered; they're simply existing. Some better than others. So the prospect of one experiencing abduction, abuse and slavery for an unimaginable period of time and coming out of that to find his destiny and that karma has rewarded him tenfold? I'll take that every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I do lurve me some destiny trope.

It does require a bit of suspension of disbelief and, again, my cup of care is bone dry. 

Both these characters are well drawn but I really loved Caleb. I loved that he maintains his zest for life, that he doesn't allow his fears to dictate every aspect of his life, that he still has the ability to trust others. All of it pulled at my heart strings. There's something about resiliency that always draws me in like a moth to a flame and Caleb has it in spades. He's not perfect by any means. He stumbles along the way; he has shitty taste in friends and men until he meets March. Part of me wants to say they are opposites but that's not necessarily so. I think they're more like two halves of a whole. They are stronger together but not codependent. The cherry on top was their relationship development being extra heart warming.

Elsborg gives a decent portrayal of PTSD and a really accurate portrayal of a sociopathic pedophile. Every time I started to think, 'ohhhhh... that's not very accur... Ohhhppp! Will ya look at that. Atta girl!' 

The secondary stalker plotline was good but I couldn't reconcile the dismissal of Jaime's initial disclosure with someone who's been subjected to everything Caleb's has. Very incongruous and difficult to swallow.

Pacing was a bit spotty in the last 40ish% and I think that could've been tightened up for continuity's sake.

If you can focus on the perseverance and resiliency over the abduction and abuse portion of the warning you will be rewarded with a richly deserved HEA.

Recommend for hopeful romantics and those who enjoy escapist reads that don't give it up easily.

p.s. Were someone with the initials B.E. to be considering a follow up with Jasim, I would be all over that. Like white on rice. Just thought you should know.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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