Author: AM Arthur
Publisher: Carina Press
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Three months after his rescue from an abusive boyfriend, twenty-two-year-old Romy Myers has landed his first legitimate job—bussing tables at his friend’s new coffee shop. The job has brought him some stability after years of abuse have left him feeling damaged and broken. He’s working hard on his panic and social anxiety, and those things are often tempered by the big, burly presence of Brendan Walker.
From the moment ex-football player Brendan helped rescue Romy from his ex’s abuse, he’s wanted to protect him. And he does, from a distance, with joking text messages, a new gym routine to toughen him up and a genuine friendship. So far it’s been easy—but Brendan’s feelings aren’t just friendly anymore…
When an argument spirals out of control, a hot and heavy make-out session causes Romy’s friendship with supposedly straight Brendan to reach a new level. The last thing Romy wants is to fall for another guy who could potentially shatter him, but Brendan also wakes up a part of him he thought had been destroyed by violence—his heart.
I am of two minds when it comes to the third installment in the Belonging series by AM Arthur. Part of me adores this sweet story of redemption and love. Part of me is screaming White Knight Syndrome and unable to believe this couple is headed for a true happily every after. Since the latter view of the story would ruin the entire romance, I am going to stick with the former.
We first met Romy in No Such Thing, with that hot mirror scene with Ale, Jaime, and Ezra. We then saw his gallant rescue from an abusive boyfriend in Maybe This Time. In Stand By You, we finally get to see Romy put his life back together. We don’t get a true sense of just how damaged he is until Stand, and he is one damaged hero. He is a lost boy, or more precisely a thrown away boy, which sadly is a reality for many LGBT youths. He has been on his own since he was 15, just trying to get by and get to his next night, his next meal. When his carefully constructed world crashes around him, his desire to be his own man and his need for support are at war inside of him. Also at war are his desire for his Knight in Shining armor, Brendan, and his fear of intimacy stemming from his ordeal.
It takes most of the book for us fully to grasp all that Romy has been through. It also takes most of the book before Brendan is willing to put his heart and family on the line for the man who has become so important to him. He is 28 and still struggling with his sexuality. Instead of dealing with it, however, he has just shut down that side of himself.
I loved the fact that each hero thought the other was too good for themselves. It showed that they each cared so deeply for the other that they only wanted the best for them. It also made me sad because that meant they each had a pretty low opinion of themselves.
As with other AM Arthur stories I have read, I appreciated the fact that storylines were wrapped up in a realistic manner. No magical moments where the homophobic prick of a brother in law is suddenly accepting tossing hearts and roses to the MCs. No magical judicial system where the baddy is put away for life on hearsay and conjecture. No running through fields of daisies hand-in-hand into the sunset.
What you do have is a sweet, slow-burn romance with a basis in friendship and trust. You have two characters of depth who know life takes work and nothing comes easy. You have two men you want to see get their happily ever after and know they will do what it takes to get it.
I would like to thank the publisher 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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