The Heart As He Hears It
Author: A.M. Arthur
Can be read as a standalone
Release Date: April 19, 2016
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.
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Cover Artist: Lyn Taylor
Pages or Words: 253 pages
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 f*ck-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.”
I can't wait until the end of my review to tell you...5 stars for this intensely emotional and simply overwhelming story that I already want to re-read even though I just finished it. This is the first book I've read by this author, and the moment I finished I put her entire backlist on my TBR list. Yes, I really did think this book was that good.
This story was character driven, and both main characters grow and evolve throughout the story. I was totally drawn to Isaac, he grabbed my heart right from the very beginning and it honestly ached for him through the entire book. He is blatantly honest, open and is so genuinely innocent that even as a reader I felt my protective instinct rise to the surface for him. Watching as his world expands and he learns about family, his sexuality and love is achingly sweet. Jon is the perfect counterpoint to Isaac, knowing too much of the world already. He is extremely compassionate, and very eager to help guide Isaac.
The relationship between Jon and Isaac develops slowly and naturally as Jon is sensitive enough to allow Isaac to explore things at his own pace, not just between the two of them but also between Isaac and his grandfather, Henry. Jon helps Isaac become comfortable with the world outside of the box to which Jon has willingly confined himself, helping him to trust again. The dynamic between them is intense and complicated, and develops into a bond that is strong and filled with emotion. As Isaac and Jon grow closer, Isaac becomes more and more open with Jon, and is extremely accepting of the things he learns about Jon's past. The two of them are very aware of each other's needs, and sensitive to each other's emotions and issues.
The story also has some great supporting characters, some who were introduced in the previous books in the series and others who we meet for the first time. They are well developed, and do add depth to the story. I haven't read the first two books of this series yet, but it didn't hamper my enjoyment of this story at all...and after meeting the supporting cast I can't wait to go back and read the other books.
Emotions run extremely high throughout this story, mainly due to Isaac's difficulty interacting with the outside world. There is also a big dose of drama toward the end that feels a bit over the top, but is a huge catalyst for the overall story. From the moment I opened this book until the very last page, I could not pull myself away, and I was completely engrossed.
The Heart As He Hears It is an stunning 5-star read and a top recommendation for me. M/M romance fans will not want to miss this one, you'll definitely want to add this to your library. I do recommend this to those 18+ due to adult language and M/M sexual content, as well as mentions of some disturbing subject matter concerning things Isaac witnessed as a young child.
The Heart As He Hears It is not to be missed, and will tug at your heartstrings while making you smile, laugh and maybe even cry...just like I did.
Meet 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.
Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, Oh My Shelves, Unquietly Me, The Jena Wade, Full Moon Dreaming, Making It Happen, Book Lovers 4Ever, BFD Book Blog, The Hat Party, Alpha Book Club, V's Reads, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Bayou Book Junkie, My Fiction Nook, Happily Ever Chapter, Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, A.M. Leibowitz, Outrageous Heroes, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, Nephy Hart, Boys on the Brink Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews,Molly Lolly, Gay Media Reviews, Kirsty Loves Books, Jessie G. Books, Havan Fellows, Anna Butler Fiction, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Mikky's World of Books, Inked Rainbow Reads, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words