Review: Fractured Hymns by A.M. Arthur
Still firmly in the closet at the age of thirty, Ethaniel Shockley is content leading a solitary—if lonely—life working on a construction crew with fellow military vets. After a tragic worksite accident leaves two of his friends dead, Ethaniel returns to his family home to recuperate from a spiral leg fracture and severe Post Concussive Syndrome. He may be lucky to be alive, but he hates the independence he’s lost.
Matthew “Angel” Garrett has worked at Shockley Stables for three years, content to muck stalls and polish saddles, and to be as unnoticeable as possible. Except for weekly church outings, he avoids going into town so he doesn’t see The Look. The Look that says “I know you went to prison for killing a man.”
A chance conversation with Ethaniel gives Angel hope that maybe he can have a friendship with the gorgeous Shockley sibling he’s crushed on for years. But the more time they spend indulging in their shared love of music, the clearer it becomes that they both want more. Ethaniel sees a kindred spirit in Angel, whose soul is just as fractured from his time in prison as Ethaniel’s is from war. But Angel has another, deeper secret that haunts him—one he’s positive will destroy this new song with Ethaniel before it’s even written.
*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*
A.M. Arthur was one of the first authors I discovered when I started reading the m/m genre and she's one of my favorites, but the last couple of books by her, while they've been well-writing books, I just either haven't liked and/or connected with one or both of the MC's. I didn't have this problem with Fractured Hymns' MC's. I loved and connected with both Ethan and Angel. Ms. Arthur took two fractured young men in Ethan and Angel, and brought them together. Two men who I really believed were meant to love only each other. This book is kind of instalove, which most times doesn't work for me. It worked for Ethan and Angel. The chemistry and love they shared comes off the pages at you. They fit together perfectly like pieces of a puzzle.
The storyline was interesting. The story held me captive and I devoured this book in no time. It's well-written and paced well. There were also a couple of curveballs thrown in there I never saw coming. This book takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions. It's packed with sadness, heartbreak, fear, anger and frustration along with tender sweetness and love. Highly recommended!!
5* This WOW'd me pretty much from the first chapter. An amazingly emotional tale that ends in my kind of HEA.
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of this author, so trying to get my hands on an ARC of this book was a no-brainer, and then getting to read the tale was like a hit to the heart. Or, rather, a series of hits - in a good way.
The tale hits big time emotions-wise pretty much from the start. I could see and feel Ethaniel's pain from his actions during his tour of duty - they leaped off the page, and then the aftereffects of the accident devastated him further, mentally and physically, and then AMA hit me with Angel's.
Angel - beautiful in nature, damaged by the effects of his horrible childhood which resulted in him going to prison, and then by his experiences there, and an event that even in my wildest dreams, I couldn't have foreseen. And yet he remained undamaged in other ways, generous, grateful for the first home he'd ever found, and trying to always stay under the radar. The guy seemed to actually be an angel, one who'd found his forever home with Ethaniel's parents, who themselves were some of the most decent, most caring, most loving, most generous and most giving people I've come across in a novel. I don't think that this tale was quite set in the bible belt, but I loved the way that AMA brought the church into the tale initially with a little discord over its teachings in regards homosexuality, and then later, in a way that embraced both Angel and Ethaniel and what they had to offer, all of it without being preachy. And, I think that maybe, there was more than just one angel in this tale, an utterly selfless, loving person who loved in person and beyond.
The tale was understandably sad at times, to the point where I could feel my heart clenching and my eyes welling up, but there was also a lot of love in this, a lot of giving without wanting to take in return, a lot of goodness in this, as well as some badness that felt genuine and that provided in some ways, the catalyst that Ethaniel needed to start living his life openly and proudly.
It ended in a hint of sadness, but with a lovely, lovely event for the leads, one that cemented their happiness and was the icing on the cake for me. It's a 5* Keeper.
ARC courtesy of the author and Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure.
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, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.
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.