Back in 2012 a book by a new to me author, JP Barnaby, was highly recommended to me. At the same time I was told, “you must read this book”, I was also told, “have tissues handy”. I think the book was for some challenge because I sometimes have to… umm… work up the nerve to read a story with a high level of angst. Well, Aaron ripped me to shreds. That book was so real, so gritty, so emotional I couldn’t help but give it 5 stars and tell everyone I could think of that they HAD to read it. I stand by my sentiment, but I add to that list Aaron’s boyfriend, and the third book in Barnaby’s Survivor series, Spencer.
Author: JP Barnaby
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
A Survivor Story
It’s been nearly five years since Aaron woke up in the hospital so broken, he couldn’t stand the sight of his own face. The flashbacks no longer dominate his life, but he’s still unable to find intimacy with his lover, Spencer Thomas. With time, patience, and the support of his family, his therapist, and his loving partner, Aaron has figured out how to live again. The problem is, Spencer hasn’t. His life has been on hold as he waits for the day he and Aaron can have a normal relationship. Hoping to move things forward for them both, he takes a job as a programmer in downtown Chicago, leaving Aaron alone.
Reeling in the wake of Spencer’s absence, Aaron receives another shock when his attackers are caught.
Now, he must testify and verbalize his worst nightmare. Publicly reliving his trauma without Spencer at his side destroys his precarious control. But he finds someone who can understand and empathize in Jordan, who watched his brother cut down in a school shooting. With Spencer gone and the DA knocking at his door, Aaron seeks solace in Jordan, and Spencer will have to risk everything to hold on to Aaron’s love.
What the hell can I say about this story? Honestly, I am speechless. There are very few authors that can consistently drag this reaction from me. After all, I love to talk (well, I love to type) especially when I am talking my favorite books. Okay, let’s start there, my list of favorite books… it grew by one today. My list of books I think every M/M fan should read? Yep, it grew by one, as well. My list of books that I don’t know if I will ever be able to re-read? Yep, it also grew by one… but it also lost a member today when I re-read Aaron (the first book in this series)…
When I first read Aaron, I didn’t think I would ever be able to read it again. It is THAT intense. It is THAT emotional. It is THAT amazing. However, it had been long enough that I wanted it fresh in my mind before I started Spencer. So in the space of about 24 hours, I finished both volumes of one of the most real, most gritty, most intense stories I have ever read. If you haven’t read Aaron yet, go do that (and pick up Spencer while you are at it). If you haven’t read Aaron, I don’t want to give away spoilers, but Aaron has lived through something no one should ever experience. He doesn’t think he should ever have survived. He doesn’t think he ever will have a life. In book 1, we see a glimpse of the life Aaron can have with the support of the unexpected love of his life, Spencer. But what happens when Spencer realizes everything he has given up to be with Aaron? That is where we pick up with Book 3, Spencer.
Your first thought could be, “but… you are hurting Aaron”. Your first thought might be “Of course you need to do what is best for yourself”. Either way, you can’t deny the heartbreak when Spencer walks of Aaron’s room to “build a life for [them]”. I know it almost broke me.
What happens when you build your future and there is no us?
Then, while Spencer is gone, Aaron’s life implodes. His torturers are caught, and he is the only one that can ensure they never hurt anyone again. Each excruciating detail that haunts Aaron’s every moment must come to light. He has to confront them again and again. Then he has to tell them in front of everyone he loves and hope they will still love him when he is finished. It is a very real fear for Aaron; he knows he can’t survive without those he loves.
Spencer is a perceptive and sincere look at recovery, love, and closure. Though, I doubt Aaron will ever be able to completely close that heinous chapter of his life, with the help of Spencer, Dr. Thomas, and his new friend Jordan, he finds a way to move forward from the holding pattern in which he has been living for the last 5 years. He finds strength he never knew he had. He finds happiness in the love of his life.
I love that neither Spencer nor Aaron are perfect, and I don’t mean their emotional scares. I mean that they make the wrong decisions, and they own up to them to move forward, together. I love that Spencer puts aside his own fears to be there for Aaron when he needs him most. I love that Aaron does the same. I love that we see a little glimpse of a special guest from another heart-wrenchingly powerful story of abuse and redemption…
I would like to thank JP Barnaby and Dreamspinner Press for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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