Will Madden is healing.
Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he’s taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chat room, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.
Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.
In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn’t seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever—until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.
Book three of the All Saints series.
*I received a free copy of this book from Carina Press in return for an honest review*
This book does contain triggering material. We don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who doesn’t want to know about it. Check the bottom of the review for the trigger warnings: they’re bracketed by **. Highlight that area and you’ll see them (they are whited out). If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.
There were things I loved about this book. Both Will and Taz are strong characters. Arthur does a great job with their characterization. She captures their selves, their responses to their respective traumas, and their growth and healing journeys in a way that resonated with me. I love that she did not attempt any kind of “love heals all” ending for them regarding the things in their lives that led to their PTSD. Will is at times immature and impulsive: that worked for me, as he’s a 19 year old who has suffered intense trauma and neglect in his life. Without it, I feel like his story would lack touch of realism.
The blurb promises a story about healing, building sexual chemistry and offers a glimpse that we’ll see these boys work through issues related to intimacy and sex. She does a good job of this, and I believed their chemistry. Awesome job with buildup between them. I didn’t feel like anything was cheated to get them anywhere in the story. They have many miscommunications stemming from making assumptions and jumping to conclusions. Again, based on their situations, upbringings etc. that made sense to me, even if it was frustrating. It’s supposed to be! Life and learning to communicate is frustrating. That kind of reality works for me in romance novels. Life is messy. Jude digs a taste of that in her novels.
I had two issues with the story. One was that from time to time we would experience time jumps or tiny moments would be referred to that we didn’t see. It’s not a huge issue, but I’m the kind of person that likes to see those moments if they function as any kind of important plot point.
The biggest issue I had with the problem is that there was a huge plot element to this story I didn’t see coming — I don’t want to spoil anyone — that wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s sort of hinted at in the last line of the blurb, but I totally took that “demons of the past” as a reference to their trauma and PTSD. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with where the book went. It was just the kind of plot/story I don’t enjoy as much. This book addresses to many heavy issues, and the author did a great job with them. The additional plot line added a level of drama that tipped the book into the “too much drama” zone for me.
That said, this is the kind of plot that readers may enjoy — a more dramatic, solve the “mystery” or plot twist kind of story. If you don’t find the subject matter triggering, you’ll probably enjoy this book.
Trigger Warnings: Highlight the space between *** to see the warnings.
***This story includes conversations, themes and plot points that reference forced prostitution of a minor, rape/molestation, assault (motivated by homophobia), child neglect, drug use.***
Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.
Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for Queer Books Unbound. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary queer romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018. Shadows you Left, a co-written novel with Taylor Brooke will arrive spring of 2019 from Entangled Press.