Will Madden is healing.
Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he's taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chat room, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.
Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.
In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn't seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever—until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.
As I Am is book 3 in the All Saints series and can be read as a standalone, but really the previous books are really good so you'll missing out if you don't read them at some point.
Will is healing and getting past some of the awful things he had to live through in the past five years with the help of his therapist, even if he still suffers from panic attacks every once in a while. After meeting Taz online, who suffers from PTSD, he thinks he might have found a kindred spirit and finally meeting him in person only cements that fact.
Taz has barely left his apartment ever since one of his wrestling teammates threw acid to his face when he came out as bisexual, but something about Will makes him want to try. They are both broken, but somehow together they are stronger and the chemistry between them is undeniable. There are a few things that might put a damper on their growing relationship, though.
I loved both Will and Taz, they were flawed, broken characters that had gone through so much already. My heart broke with each new revelation, but at the same time, I loved seeing how perfect they were for each other and how much they helped the other with their issues. They gave each other strength, unconditional love and someone to rely on. That's not to say they didn't have problems, because they did. They were so young and immature in some senses, miscommunication, a surprising reveal regarding Taz' father and their own ghosts being obstacles in their course, but I adored that they were willing to work through things and make it better. Taz, especially, won me over by how sweet and caring he was with Will and how he always tried to reassure him of his unwavering feelings, no matter what Will told him of his past.
This book was hard to read, it deals with abuse, PTSD and anxiety, but it does it in a sensitive and informed manner. A.M. Arthur did a fantastic job bringing Will and Taz alive for me, making me care for them and rejoice in their small victories. It was nice seeing characters from other books from this author featured in this one, they gave depth to the story, by accepting Will and Taz into their fold. As I Am was well-written and the progression was realistic and believable, all things considered. Very recommendable!
*** Copy provided to the reviewer via NetGalley for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
*Copy provided to the reviewer via NetGalley for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*
As I Am is Book 3 in A.M. Arthur's All Saints series. This book can be read on its own, but you should really read the previous books just to enjoy seeing broken men finding their happily ever afters! Out of all the books in the series, this one is emotionally harder to read as both men are severely damaged individuals and then combining those damages together is a lot. It's still a beautiful story, but it was emotionally exhausting to read.
Will is 19 and living in a halfway house, trying to find his "normal". Will had an extremely abusive childhood, where he was sold by his mother for drugs. He struggles with every day life and interactions with others, and finds himself hooking up as a way to get some form of touch in his life. He works hard to make it through every day, and really has a great support system with the halfway house, his therapist, and a former foster mother. In an effort to interact with others, but to keep his promise of not having hookups, he joins internet chat rooms and has made a friend that he connects with. One day he suggests to Taz that they meet in person, in a public place to have lunch together.
Taz panics at the thought of meeting Will, the reaction he will get to his scar, and the chance of losing the one friend he has made. Taz is a little older than Will but is a recluse due to his physical scars. When he was in college, he was attacked for dating a man and was left with severe emotional and physical scars. Whenever he would go in public, people would stare at his scars and he walled himself up in his apartment away from everyone. His long lost father came into his life while hospitalized and he's helped get Taz a job working from his home and brings anything Taz needs to him. But, Taz really wants to meet Will and despite his panic attacks, goes to the park.
The men form a relationship despite all their issues and are able to understand what the other is going through. They really do form a relationship, with the sexual side of it coming later in their relationship which may have been the most mature decision made by two young, immature men. Once they get together, things are not any easier for them. There's a lot of misunderstandings and lack of communication between the two, but that could be caused by their young side. Plus, there's the added issues when someone from Will's past comes back and it turns out that Taz's father is not who he seems.
I don't read a lot of emotionally heavy books, and this book is definitely that. Overall, I think it's a great story of two young men maturing and finding a support neither ever expected to have, but it takes a lot to get to that place.
Rating: 4 stars