Born for Leaving

Romance - Contemporary
238 Pages
Reviewed on 07/24/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

The plot in Born for Leaving by Jude Munro is pretty straightforward: Oliver is a bartender who is broke and who also has huge debts to pay. He is looking for any means to get some extra money and is willing to put the spare room of his beachfront cottage up for rent. Bodie places an ad in the Waterfront Gazette, seeking summer housing. And he is also willing to share his snacks. But when the two meet, they will share more than snacks; they become emotionally engaged with each other. As the romance deepens and their bond grows stronger, their boss, unable to let go of his involvement with Oliver, becomes jealous and does everything to split them apart. His plan works, and Bodie leaves. Can Oliver handle it this time and is there be hope for a reunion?

While the plot is simple, the beauty of this story lies in the subtlety with which the author develops the characters and in the small details that embellish the plot. The writing is top-notch and I enjoyed the way the author explores the emotions of the characters. The theme of romance is beautifully developed and I loved the gradual manner in which the connection between Oliver and Bodie builds up. The author makes it feel natural and uses suspense in a way that increases the reader’s interest in the story and the characters. Born for Leaving is a story with characters that readers quickly learn to care about; they are real and written into real-life situations. It is an emotionally rich and captivating story that is hard to put down.

Jack Magnus

Born for Leaving: New England State of Mind, Book 1 is a contemporary gay romance novel written by Jude Munro. The ad in the Waterfront Gazette was tantalizing. The “man in a stetson” was looking for a room for the three months of summer -- and he was willing to share his snacks with his landlord. Oliver was making his long-term dreams come true, but it wasn’t easy and cash was tight. A trained mixologist, he was currently working as the bartender at Surf’s Up. While it wasn’t his dream job, it would have been fine if not for his failed romance with the owner. Oliver answered the ad and was a bit miffed by the breezy response he received. Bodie indicated that he’d be moving in on Friday. When moving day arrived, Oliver was stunned to discover that his new roommate was the gorgeous and definitely hot cowboy who was the new bouncer at Surf’s Up. The same one who had saved his butt when he was being bullied by a customer -- and had asked him to call him “sir.”

Jude Munro’s Born for Leaving is a well-written and enthralling story about a rental agreement that has the possibility to turn into a summer romance and maybe even more. The author’s characters are fully dimensional and vicariously sharing their lives is great fun. Her two main characters are beautifully supported by the rest of the crew of the Surf’s Up, and she even provides villains in the form of Jack, the bar’s owner, Oliver’s mom, and the customer from hell who has a thing for him. Munro’s plot is unpredictable, making Born for Leaving hard to put down as two characters who are so obviously made for each other have to deal with seemingly unending obstacles to the course of their true love. Munro’s love scenes are just that -- love scenes describing the physical romance of two men deeply in love with each other. They are beautifully and respectfully written. Born for Leaving is most highly recommended.

Jose Cornelio

Born for Leaving by Jude Munro is a story with strong characters and a great appeal for readers who enjoy same-sex relationships. Meet Oliver, a bartender who is at the lowest point in his life, swamped with debts and broke. When the story opens, Oliver finds an ad in the Waterfront Gazette. Bodie needs summer housing. Oliver responds and decides to offer the spare bedroom of his beachfront cottage for rent. All he wants is to have a little cash flow, but when Bodie moves in and starts working the door at Oliver’s bar, everything changes. Oliver and Bodie find themselves attracted irresistibly to each other and a romance ensues. Oliver has found in Bodie a companion like no other and Bodie can now fill the void he’d experienced after being despised by his own family. But their boss is jealous of the two and he creates a plan to put them apart. Bodie hits the road - can there be any coming back?

I was pulled in from the very opening of the story with the first-person narrative voice. It is well-written, and the author pulls the reader strongly into the perspective of the characters. The key characters are immediately introduced and the circumstances that draw Oliver and Bodie together are interesting. I loved Bodie as a character and in the way he is described, a wanderer who suddenly finds roots in the heart of a lonely man. The emotional elements of the story are well-handled and the characters are not just genuinely flawed but very believable. Born for Leaving is skillfully written and I loved Jude Munro’s ingenuity in character handling and plot development.

Romuald Dzemo

Born for Leaving by Jude Munro is an endearing read, a contemporary romance with sophisticated characters and a well-imagined plot. Oliver has a lot to deal with. Apart from having huge debts, he is broke, and bartending doesn't bring in enough. So, he decides to take on a roommate. Renting out the spare room in his cottage won't hurt. When he replies to the ad in the Waterfront Gazette, the last thing he expects is to get himself entangled with Bodie. But sharing a home with Bodie brings more than friendship. A romance quickly develops and as it deepens, their boss gets jealous. His sinister plan to break the bond between Oliver and Bodie succeeds. Can Oliver handle the devastating consequences?

The story starts slowly, introducing the reader to the protagonist, and I was hooked on his personality as he struggles to bring out the humorous part of himself in his effort to answer the ad. The story becomes more interesting as the reader moves from page to page and each layer of each character's personality is unveiled. Even readers who are not into same-sex relationships will find it easy to relate to, even root for Jude Munro's characters, thanks to the realism infused into the writing. The crisp writing combines with a strong and consistent narrative voice to deliver an enjoyable reading experience. The characters are vulnerable and it wasn't hard for me to feel for them. Bodie has issues with his family, a background that makes him solid, the kind of character readers are keen to see evolve. The way the relationship between Oliver and his boss is written helps to strengthen the emotional conflict and moves the plot steadily forward. Born for Leaving has a good dose of pathos, beautifully-crafted scenes, and a lot of what readers look for in realistic stories.

K.C. Finn

Born for Leaving is a work of fiction in the contemporary romance and LGBTQ+ romance sub-genres, and was penned by author Jude Munro. Part of the New England State of Mind series, this first book is written for adults and does contain the use of explicit language, scenes of a sexual nature, and some reference to childhood trauma and abuse. The central protagonists are Oliver and Bodie, who come together when Oliver advertises for a roommate at his beachfront home to help make ends meet. As the two become more and more involved in one another’s lives, they question their previous noncommittal urges and are put to the test when life turns sour.

Author Jude Munro has crafted an excellent work of romantic fiction that offers plenty of emotional complexity and drama for its central pairing. I especially enjoyed modern-day cowboy Bodie and the unpicking of his difficult family history. The author really works hard through every chapter to deliver fully fleshed out people with understandable motivations for their actions, whether good or bad. This makes readers more and more invested as the story goes on and grows complicated, with a killer antagonist who really puts the pressure on bringing the new relationship to breaking point. The dialogue, too, is a particular triumph, serving to help characterize the protagonists, but also deliver both humor and heartbreak with its realistic phrasing. Overall, I would definitely recommend Born for Leaving to readers looking for high quality and emotional M/M romance.