Blog Tour ~ Say It Right by A.M. Arthur ~ (Review, Excerpt + Giveaway)Title: Say It Right
Author: A M Arthur
Series: All Saints #2
Can be read as a standalone
Release Date: September 12th 2016
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance
After his parents kicked him out for being gay, Marc Villegas lived on the streets before getting a second chance. Now he's giving back by working at a shelter for LGBT teenagers—because helping fight their demons keeps his own at bay. Including his infatuation with the former best friend he's sure is straight.
Anthony Romano hasn't seen Marc since Marc left home eight years ago. In his confidant's absence, Anthony turned to heroin. Now at rock bottom, he has an offer from Marc to help him get clean. Detox is hard and ugly, but not as hard as admitting the truth: he's in love with Marc. Always has been.
Marc swore he'd never date an addict, but he never dreamed the one in question would be the man he's always wanted to be with. As the two explore their feelings for each other, Marc faces a difficult choice. Say yes, and it could cost him his sobriety; say no, and it could cost him his heart.
Where to find COME WHAT MAY (All Saints #1)
Marc jerked upright in bed, instantly alert, but uncertain what had woken him. A hint of light made it through the blackout curtains on his only window, enough to show he was alone in his room. He snagged his phone off the bedside table, but no one was calling him. No texts, and the alarm wasn’t going off.
Only a little after noon. He’d gotten home from his overnight at the shelter less than two hours ago and crashed right away.
Why the hell am I awake?
The distant chime of his doorbell, then muffled banging.
He sat up, covers falling to his waist. No one ever knocked on his door. The Beware Pit Bull sign on his front gate deterred solicitors, and he rarely ordered anything that needed to be delivered. People didn’t ring his bell for no good reason, and that sent Marc diving for a pair of workout shorts.
Sleeping in the nude wasn’t conducive to quickly answering the door.
The stairs challenged him a little, but whatever. Two hours of sleep. At the bottom, he pressed his eye close to the peephole. A young Latina, maybe late teens or early twenties, stood on his stoop. Familiarity hit him in the heart. Her face was thinner, her hair longer, but he knew her.
He snapped the two locks and flung the door open. “Maddy?”
“Hey, Marcos.” Madeline Romano haunted his stoop like a ghost from the past—which she very much was. Maddy was the little sister of his high school best friend, and he hadn’t seen her since he was sixteen years old.
“It’s Marc now.” Stupid thing to say. “What are you doing here?”
“I need your help.”
“Okay. Come in.”
He stepped back, shut the front door once she was inside and out of the January cold, then ushered her toward his lumpy sofa. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“No, I’m fine.” She was pretty far from fine, or she wouldn’t be here after eight years. “Did I wake you up?”
Marc glanced down at his backward shorts. “Um, give me one sec, okay?”
He fled upstairs for proper clothes. Whatever was wrong, he didn’t need to hear it in his underwear. After finding clean briefs, he put on jeans and a sweater. Maddy hadn’t moved from the couch. She clutched at a small purse like she expected it to disappear at any moment.
“How did you find me?” Marc asked as he sat next to her.
“The internet. You stayed in the city.”
“I did. Where are you living?”
“Philadelphia. Sort of. It’s where we moved to when I was twelve. I’m home on winter break. Senior year of college.”
“Good for you. What school?”
“Damn, chica. Congrats on that.”
She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Thanks.”
“What’s Anthony up to?” Marc hadn’t thought about his former best friend in a while. After Marc’s parents had kicked him out at the end of his junior year of high school, Anthony’s family refused to help him or let them remain in contact. Marc hadn’t had any real way to keep in touch, anyhow. No money, no phone, no place to live. Maintaining a friendship hadn’t been part of his survival plan, and the one time he’d sought Anthony out, he discovered the entire family had moved. Apparently to Philly. And after enough years passed, finding Anthony again stopped feeling important.
After all, Anthony had never come looking for him.
Maddy squeezed her purse tight enough to make the leather squeak in protest. “He’s why I’m here.”
Marc’s heart kicked. “What happened?”
“After you left, he became a different person. Moody, angry, acting out. He quit the soccer team. Started getting into fights. He barely graduated, and our parents didn’t know what to do. A few months after graduation, he was arrested for possession.”
That news punched Marc in the gut. Anthony had always been about getting a soccer scholarship that would carry him to college first, then all the way to Europe. He’d dreamed of being a big-name soccer star, and he’d hated the idea of drugs. He’d turned his nose up at weed and didn’t even like to drink at parties.
“He got probation the first time.”
“The first time?” Marc squawked.
“Less than a month later, he was arrested again. He served four months.”
Anthony had been in prison for drug possession.
“It destroyed our parents,” Maddy said. “None of us understood what happened. Why he changed like that. When he got out, he was clean for a while. Even got a job at a car wash. We all thought he was doing good. Then Mom’s jewelry started going missing. Cash was missing. He kept staying out.”
“He was using again.” The words were bitter in Marc’s mouth.
“We had a family intervention. Rehab, or they’d kick him out. He chose rehab, got his act together and came home. He went to meetings, got a job. He was fun to be around again. Everyone thought he was okay until this past summer. Same thing, different day. But instead of rehab or begging for another chance, he just left. He left, and no one knows where he’s been for months.”
The heartbreak in Maddy’s voice put hot tears in Marc’s eyes.
“Fuck.” He blinked the tears away, then tucked Maddy close to his chest, acting on instinct. She clung to him without crying, and he tried not to tense up.
Marc knew the dangers of living on the streets better than anyone. He knew all of the different fates that could befall someone, especially an addict. He’d seen acquaintances overdose on bad shit. Seen them beaten up for what little they had on them, be it cash or dope. Seen them killed outright for standing on the wrong corner.
“How can I help?” Marc asked.
“I saw in the paper about your homeless shelter. It’s awesome that you do that.”
“Thanks, but Anthony’s never come to the shelter.” He wouldn’t have been admitted by Dave or Tate, even if he had. The shelter was for LGBT teenagers, not twenty-four-year-old former soccer stars. And no one brought drugs inside. “Why do you think he’d come back to Wilmington? Your family moved to Philadelphia not long after I lost touch.”
“It’s a guess. I’ve searched all over Philly. All of his old hangouts, his old friends. Dad even checked in with his detective buddy, and no one can find him there. Plus he talked about you a few times after the last rehab.”
And here Marc hadn’t thought anything else could surprise him today. “He did?”
“He wondered what you were doing, if you were okay. Said he owed you an apology, and part of staying sober was making amends. I figured searching here was worth a shot.”
Marc wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Anthony could be right around the block, shooting his own death up his arm, and Marc wanted to cry almost as much as he wanted to punch something. “If he came back to Wilmington, he’s never tried to make contact with me.”
“But don’t you know people? Someone who could help us find him?”
“I’m not sure.” Marc had more resources for this kind of thing than Maddy, but addicts weren’t quick to snitch on each other. Not unless money was involved, and Marc didn’t have a lot of spare twenties to flash in front of people for what would probably be worthless information.
One thought came to mind, though. An acquaintance who might be able to give him a lead.
*** Copy provided to the reviewer via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***
Say It Right is the second book in the All Saints series and while it can be read as a standalone, I suggest reading Come What May first, it's an outstanding book and one I can't recommend enough!
Marc and Anthony were the best of friends since they were six years old until Marc's parents threw him out of his house when they were sixteen, and Anthony's parents refused to take him in. After that, Marc disappeared and Anthony's life spiralled out of control, allowing drugs to numb him against the pain of losing not only his best friend, but the love of his life, even if he never was brave enough to admit to it.
Marc's life after his parents threw him out wasn't a walk on the park. He's had to do things he's not proud of, however, now he's a recovering addict, has been sober for five years and runs a shelter for LGBT homeless teens with his friends Tate and David. The last thing he expected was a blast from the past in the form of Anthony's sister, who is looking for her brother after he refused to go to rehab.
Finding Anthony was the easy part, helping him recover and stay clean might prove a bit more difficult and regaining Marc's trust and perhaps have a chance at love may very well be impossible.
This book was definitely darker than Come What May. It deals with addiction and everything that it entails. It definitely wasn't an easy read.
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. While I liked Anthony a lot, I couldn't feel the same connection to Marc. He appeared a bit dettached, especially at first. I get that Marc had a hard life, that he had to go through a lot of things, but I would've thought he'd be a bit more empathetic considering all the history he shared with Anthony.
I loved to see Anthony's journey into recovery. His strength and realization that he needed to do this for himself and not just because it was Marc's condition for them finally having a chance at love. It wasn't an easy road, he was tempted into falling back to his old patterns and yet, he managed to get to a point where it was manageable.
It was nice to see Marc opening up to Anthony later in the book, even when he didn't fully trust him and give into the love they felt for one another. It was slow burn, as it took a bit for Marc to allow Anthony in, but once he did, it was obvious they belonged together.
Just when I had warmed up to Marc, though, there was a scene near the end that left me reeling. It felt unnecessary in the sense that it just brought back to the forefront that they were still a work in progress, and I didn't particularly like the way it was resolved, but oh well, that's neither here nor there.
Overall, Say It Right was a mildly angsty, heartbreaking read, with a lot of build-up and a somewhat satisfying resolution, well-written and with cameos from some of A.M. Arthur's other books, especially Tate and Jason. Recommendable!
Rating: 4 Stars!
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***
This is Book 2 of A.M. Arthur's All Saints series. You could probably read it on its own, but why do that when Book 1 was so good and the characters from that book are in this one? This book is about Marc, who we met in Book 1. He runs the homeless shelter along with Tate. Marc was a homeless gay teen who was kicked out of his home when he came out to his parents. He's surprised when someone from his pre-homeless years contacts him for help. It seems his childhood friend's life did not turn out as expected. Instead of school and soccer, Anthony turned to a life of drugs. Anthony's sister thinks Marc can help her find Anthony and clean him up. Marc uses his contacts to find Anthony, drags him home and cares for him as he detoxes. Once sober, Anthony hopes to get a second chance with Marc and must prove that he deserves it.
I know many people won't connect with Marc or will feel he's too standoffish. I feel like he is very true to his experiences. His story is heartbreaking and probably entirely true among teens who have been thrown out of families due to their sexual orientation except he was given a chance and many don't get that. Marc has grown up learning how to protect himself, first from an abusive father and through his experiences of surviving on the streets. He's fought through drug addictions and has become someone who helps others. Even confronted with the man/boy he loved, he has to think of himself and how to take are of himself first. He's willing to help Anthony get clean again and help him find opportunities to succeed but he can't put his recovery and life in jeopardy for another addict without proof that they both won't spiral down.
Anthony watched his best friend, and love, get kicked out of his home for coming out. His family refused to take Marc in and help him because he was gay so Anthony keeps his secret to himself and is eaten from the inside out. He turns to the drugs to take away his pain from knowing how Marc was treated and not helping him. When Anthony is given a chance with Marc, it's what he needs to finally get on the road to recovery.
This was a story about two men who already had love but had to find a way to be together through all the trials they have experienced in life. They had to reconnect as friends and learn to trust each other and accept each other for who they are.
This series is the first I've read from the author and I really look forward to reading more.
Rating: 4 stars
About the Author
No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and "bromance" (and "The Young Riders") with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.
You can contact her at AM_Arthur(at)yahoo(dot)com.
GIVEAWAY: Win ebook copies of Come What May and Say It Right