Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from A. M. Arthur. THE HEART AS HE HEARS IT is the third book in her Perspectives series, but can be fully enjoyed on it’s own. Like THE WORLD AS HE SEES IT, and THE TRUTH AS HE KNOWS IT, this book features a small-time gay porn actor finding a new life and a true love, as a sub-plot.
Catch the excerpt and enter to win a backlist book from AM Arthur in the giveaway below.
About the book:
While most of his friends have moved on to “real” careers, Jon Buchanan is content skating through life as a part-time waiter and gay porn star. Firmly single thanks to a previous relationship disaster, he focuses his spare time on Henry, a dear friend dying of cancer.
And with Henry’s happiness paramount, Jon is on a mission to help Henry meet his recently discovered grandson.
Isaac Gregory hasn’t set foot outside for the past year. He has everything he needs delivered, and his remaining family knows better than to visit. When a complete stranger shows up claiming to be his grandfather—with a distractingly handsome younger man in tow—his carefully structured routines are shaken.
Despite his instant attraction, Jon senses Isaac is too fragile for a relationship. Yet tentative friendship grows into genuine companionship. And when Henry’s health begins to fail, they realize Fate brought them together for a reason.
How about a little taste?
Jon studied him, his gaze taking in…something. “May I ask you something?”
“Of course.” His chest flushed with anticipation.
“How do you feel when you’re with me?”
Isaac tried to push aside the anxiety still attempting to blur his thoughts, an old friend that wanted to be part of the conversation. Only anxiety wasn’t allowed in, not this time. He shuffled through different words, emotions and adjectives, searching for the one that best described how he felt about Jon. How Jon made him feel, despite being a near-stranger, bigger, stronger and far more experienced in pretty much everything. Jon still made him feel… “Safe,” Isaac said.
Jon’s eyebrows crept up. The corners of his mouth quirked into something not quite a smile. “Really?”
“Yes. The first time I saw you on my security feed, I noticed how beautiful you were.” His cheeks warmed.
Jon flat out grinned. “Yeah?”
“You’re kind and patient, and I feel safe because you don’t try to fix me, and you don’t act like I’m broken. My family thinks I’m broken, and I don’t want them to fix me. I just…” Something in Isaac shifted, accepting this new truth. “I need to feel safe, Jon. That’s why I hide. But you make me not want to hide.”
Jon’s eyes glittered. His expression melted into something so warm, so sweet, that it burned in Isaac’s blood in a way he didn’t understand at all. The strange sensation urged him to reach out, to initiate contact of some kind. Deep-rooted fear kept Isaac still, unable to make that first move. Unable to do anything except soak in the wonderment on Jon’s face.
“I think that’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten,” Jon said. His voice was hoarse, strange. Almost difficult to hear, so Isaac paid more attention to his lips. “Is it cheesy to say your strength makes me want to be better too?”
Isaac shook his head. “I’m not strong.”
“You’re stronger than you think. You proved that by letting me and Henry in two weeks ago. You proved it again by going out to rescue a kitten. Twice, by the way. You told me you want to get better, get into the world, and that takes a fuck-ton of courage when you’ve lost as much as you have. I know it won’t be easy, but I still want to help you do that.”
“I know you do. I want that too.”
While this is the third book in a series, it follows a new lead and a new romance, with brief appearances from a couple previous characters.
Jon is a 25 y/o man who is in a good place in his life. A recovering anorexic, he has battled back from the brink, and built some true friendships, notably Gabe, from previous books, and Henry, an older man who took Jon in when his family cast him out and helped him through his recovery. Jon prefers his regular porn shoots for no-strings sex, as his last relationship (with emotionally-abusive Rick) was completely toxic. He’s not looking for a partner, and is busy caring for Henry who has end-stage prostate cancer. When Henry learns he has a long-lost grandson, he wants to meet him, and spend whatever time he has making one last connection. Jon assists, and is struck by Isaac.
For his part, Isaac suffers PTSD from domestic violence–Henry’s unknown son was an abuser–and witnessing his mother be attacked by criminals. Though he’s 22, Isaac is agoraphobic in the extreme and hasn’t left his home willingly since his grandmother died a year ago. He’s also mostly deaf, due to his father’s battery.
Isaac is initally terrified of Henry, whose resemblance to his abusive son is traumatic, but he braves out a single meeting a little mystified by the beautiful man who accompanies Henry, Jon. Not long after, Isaac rescues a lost kitten who strayed onto his porch, and he reaches out to Jon to bring supplies. They hit it off, and begin a casual friendship mostly via online messaging, at first. Jon wants Henry’s dying wish to become true, so he continues to build a friendship with Isaac in the hope that Henry will be invited to spend more time. It doesn’t hurt that Jon feels attracted adn protective of Isaac, wanting to make his sheltered life better, too. In the meantime, Jon’s ex, Rick, returns and his ED is triggered. Jon and Isaac’s friendship becomes more than friendly, with brief forays into the physical. It was all so new, and unwelcome, for Isaac at first, given his history with abuse and violence. Ultimately, Jon and Isaac are sweet for each other, and their cooperation turns into a tentative passion, and then a tender love.
I loved the time frame, here, with very reasonable baby steps forward for both Jon and Isaac over the course of months. Jon’s job as a porn actor isn’t seedy, and his views on it change as he develops strong feelings for Isaac. For those who may be concerned about fidelity issues, there are no cross-overs; Jon is highly respectful of himself and Isaac. I really liked the open and honest communication that was present throughout. Jon is so compassionate and this really turns Isaac’s head in the best way. It was so fun, also, to have a front row seat to Isaac’s awakening, emotionally and sexually. I was captivated by his self-sheltering, and also with his management of his hearing. It was really interesting how he chose to wear his hearing aid some times, and not others, based on whether he wanted to interact, or shut out, those around him. All of his many mechanisms to keep the world safely locked outside his door, but Jon was able to sneak inside–inch-by-inch–Bear, the playful kitten, was a huge part of that process.
A lot of the book is sweet and tender, though there are some bits that are tragic, what with Henry’s progressive illness, and others that are downright creepy-scary. What are Rick’s motives? And, is he behind the mysterious visits and packages Jon’s receiving? Expect some harrowing moments while that gets sorted. I was glad that everything turned out so good, and look forward to more excellently-told stories of the Mean Green porn boys, now that we’ve gotten to know a few of them in this book.
Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from Ms. Arthur.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, and SMP Swerve.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.