Author: JP Barnaby
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG
Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 06/27/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
A Survivor Story
Aaron Downing worshiped his mother. She saved his life. She did everything for him. But Anthony Downing has a different perspective. He sees the woman who tossed him into a basement for eight long years and forgot he existed. When Anthony decides he’s done being invisible, he packs up and heads for Detroit to stay with his Internet friend Jay, but fate intervenes.
Brendan Mears lost everything the day the man with a gun came into his father’s store. Now, he’s tethered to a business he can’t manage and a brother who resents him.
Different in all the ways that matter, Anthony and Brendan struggle to overcome their psychological obstacles, until a crushing betrayal sends them running for cover and each other.
It is no secret that I adore JP Barnaby and her Survivor series. I have read and reviewed all of the books in one form or another, so it was with great excitement that I picked up the latest installment to review. Within it, Ms. Barnaby has focused once again on the Downing family's losses, anguish, and search for self and healing, this time from Anthony's perspective. The lost souls that inhabit the pages of Anthony’s story are extremely sympathetic, and all the characters are perfect additions to the Survivors cast. They tug at the heartstrings as they deal with their demons, traumas, and the betrayals by those they love most.
<em>Anthony</em> is a cautionary tale that takes, at times, a rather grim look at the fragility and frightening choices of youth. Rash decisions are made, highlighting the vulnerability of kids who don’t consider their mortality or the consequences of their actions. It’s difficult to witness but important to understand how young people can become so easily displaced and can become easy targets of those who wish to prey upon their sense of loneliness, despair, and feelings of being out of place in their own skins. Ms. Barnaby’s ability to take the reader into the hearts and minds of her characters speaks volumes about her gift as a writer, and she creates a powerful connection to Anthony as he struggles with the devastation experienced by his family in the wake of his brother Aaron’s trauma. His anger, resentment, and feelings of abandonment are living entities eating their way through his innocence, severing his connection to those around him. The reader can only watch and hope as he flees his family home, careening towards the frightening unknown, driven by an overwhelming need to belong and to be loved.
Enter brothers Bren and Patrick, two beautiful characters in their own right who also battle demons. Their struggles are different than Anthony’s, yet still generate from an act of violence that forever changed their lives. Patrick’s character is complicated, flawed, and heartbreaking as he struggles with his obligations to his brother and the family business. Bren is just as tragic, a man barely hanging on to a life held captive by the trauma he continues to re-live on a daily basis. I love these two men, their genuine love for one another, and their need for a family bond that has been torn away from them. Yet they persevere, fighting to find a normalcy and a connection to one another in the midst of the chaos and pain that now permeates their lives.
As Patrick and Bren befriend and get to know Anthony, their lives begin to change. The reader sees the relationships become more ambiguous, and at times it is difficult to see where everyone stands in the triangle. As in the realities of life, lines sometimes get crossed, and judgment is clouded. Yet at the center of it all is the need for family, for acceptance, and for a sense of control and belonging. As each of the characters works towards re-claiming these elements, their actions are sometimes questionable, harsh, or frustrating, a true reflection of people in crisis. As conflicts are tentatively resolved and characters are given an opportunity for healing, that reality is consistent and uncompromising.
The relationship between Anthony and Bren is something they apparently both need and want, but it felt a bit too rushed and convenient. They do work well together as “old souls” who have each experienced their own violations and turmoil. Of course this is Anthony’s story, and he is the central focus; however, I wanted to connect further with Bren and to gain a better understanding about what made him tick. His backstory is clearly presented, but more development of his relationship with Anthony might have given me a clearer perspective on their attraction to one another and the emotional connection they make.
Overall, <em>Anthony</em> is a wonderful addition to the Survivor series. If you haven’t read the rest of the books, I recommend you do so before reading this one. Thank you, Ms. Barnaby, for this captivating, heart-rending story. I love Anthony and am so glad to see him with his own HFN.
I would like to make one final note regarding the cover. It is truly beautiful, and I feel it perfectly captures Anthony’s vulnerability and loneliness. Well done, AngstyG!
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|