Title: Stand By You
Series: Belonging, #3
Author: AM Arthur
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel (231 pages)
Publisher: Carina Press (October 20th 2014)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 3.5 Hearts
Blurb: 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.
Review: Romy Myers has spent the last couple of months recovering from the injuries he sustained at the hands of his extremely abusive ex-boyfriend. While the physical scars are fading over time, the mental anguish is almost stifling. Romy suffers from panic attacks and nightmares, the only time he feels even remotely safe is when Brendan is around. When Rory finally found a way to escape Carlos and the room he was kept chained in, his friend Ezra came to the rescue, bringing his own gentle giant, Brendan.
Brendan Walker is powerful in presence, stature and appearance. Abused himself as a child, he not only recognizes what Rory is going through, he can relate. He has felt drawn to Rory since he carried his small, battered body out of that room, and the pull only grows stronger as the two men get to know each other and become friends. The feelings are foreign to Brendan. He has never been attracted to a man before. Rory is both fragile and broken and Brendan feels this insane need to protect him, shelter him, and love him.
When Brendan finally admits how he feels, that he wants more than just friendship, Rory is scared. All he can think about is how the men he has loved in the past have hurt him, and he doesn’t ever want to be that vulnerable again. Rory will have to let go of the pain in his past, if he stands a chance of having a future with Brendan.
The story was a little slow in places, not connecting from one part to the next, and the angst was a bit maddening. That being said, I enjoyed the parts of the story when the characters did connect. I couldn’t help but understand why Rory was initially hesitant of entering into a relationship with Brendan. There was the secret, the fact that his size sort of intimidated Rory and the shadows of Rory’s past that were ever-present in his present. But once Brendan realized he was in love with the troubled young man, he pulled out all the stops to make Rory his and make sure he knew he was loved, protected and safe in Brendan’s arms.
Overall, it was a good ‘gay for you’ type story line, with that hint of danger from Rory’s ever-present ex. I haven’t read the other stories in this series, but I didn’t really feel like I was missing anything when it came to the focus of this story, Rory and Brendan. Both of their pasts were explained as well as their current situations. If you can get past the angst and the slow start, I think you’ll like the character development and where it takes these two in the end.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *