Monday, April 18, 2016

Pre-Release Review: The Heart as He Hears It (Perspectives #3) by A.M. Arthur

heartashehearsTitle ~ The Heart as He Hears It (Perspectives #3)

Author ~ A.M. Arthur

Publisher ~ Samhain Publishing

Published ~ 19 April 2016

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance





Love can slip through the smallest crack in the door.
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.
Warning: Product contains a neurotic porn star with body image issues, a virgin hero with severe agoraphobia, and a fluffy ball of gray cuteness you’ll want to take home and cuddle. Also contains references to past abuse some readers might find disturbing.


Debra’s Review

I was braced for a super angsty A.M. Arthur read based on the blurb and while both men have had very difficult times, I was happy to see that while it was full of emotional ups and downs, it was a nicely balanced read. Jon and Isaac are very well suited for each other and throwing a cute kitten into the mix certainly didn’t hurt anything. Jon was introduced briefly in the previous book, but this can easily be read as a standalone story.

Jon Buchanan aka Mean Green studio porn star “Boomer Black” is four years out of an emotionally abusive relationship that led him to become severely anorexic. He hasn’t dated since, instead opting to work in porn where he can have the safe sex he craves and show off and be proud of his body. He still struggles with his eating disorder and body issues, but has it generally under control. His stress level has been increasing lately as Henry, the man he has come to think of as a father, is fighting a losing battle with cancer. When Henry learns he had a son who died, leaving him a grandson, Jon helps him to arrange a meeting.

Isaac Gregory was left almost completely deaf after being beaten as a child by his father. His father’s murder and mother’s suicide left him to be raised by his maternal grandparents. Their death a year prior has left Isaac a shut-in who hasn’t left the house since his grandmother’s funeral. He works from home as a comic book writer, has groceries delivered once a week and exercises complete control over his environment with a strict routine in order to feel safe and deal with his anxiety and fear. When his aunt shows up at his home with the grandfather he never met and his beautiful friend Jon he is immediately drawn to Jon whose presence, instead of driving him into a panic, somehow soothes him. Days later when Isaac rescues a stray kitten, he calls on Jon to help and the two become fast friends.

Although Jon admits to himself that meeting Isaac is like everything he’s ever heard about love at first sight, this is not an insta-love book. Isaac has been very sheltered and is na├»ve in many ways. He doesn’t understand his sexuality or the feelings he is having for Jon. Jon understands some of what Isaac is going through and is determined not to push Isaac for anything more than he can and wants to give. Isaac is obviously very smart, and is willing to research and learn all he can. He is also socially stunted, but that leads to an honesty and openness that I haven’t seen in many characters.

Neither man deals with change well, but Isaac’s need to control his environment has gotten extreme, to the point he hasn’t left his home in a year. He understands that it’s his fear talking and I really thought his story and his desire to challenge that fear with the help of Jon and Bear the kitten was played out very nicely. Although Isaac clearly has anxiety issues and panic attacks that go back to his childhood, we are never told specifics about therapy or a diagnosis. It’s not easy for him to takes the steps he does, but he makes remarkable progress throughout the story which did make it seem that he was dealing less with actual agoraphobia and more a self-imposed method of controlling his fear.

The two men build a relationship based on acceptance and trust and soon Isaac begins to crave human touch and interaction again. It takes a while for them to build to a sexual relationship but when Isaac is ready, he really goes all in. Everything he experiences with Jon is a first from kissing to touching. It was sweet and tender, but eventually Isaac wants everything from Jon and I loved having both of their points of view.

The one change neither man can control is Henry’s declining health. There is no chance he will recover and both Isaac and Jon do everything they can to make the time he has left as good as it can be. Both men grieve when Henry’s time comes, but their reactions were very different and it hurt to see Jon lashing out in an unexpected way.

Most of the story moves along without any other outside drama or interference, but there is some foreshadowing throughout the story that comes to play in the last part of the story. Jon’s ex, Rick, appears in an unlikely place, shaking things up and again testing his own need for control. This gives Isaac a chance to turn the tables and be the support that Jon needs.

I know that a lot of readers are concerned when one of the MC’s is in porn, so I want to come right out and say that Jon does not film any scenes when he is together with Isaac. While his career affects his life and he struggles with how to come clean, it is not something at the forefront of their relationship. Jon is not ashamed of it, but once it no longer gives him what he needs, he is not troubled with putting it behind him. I loved the way Isaac handled the situation. He is not a character that makes rash decisions, rather he craves knowledge and information. Each couple in the series has handled the situation differently and each time I’ve been very happy with how it turns out.

As far as secondary characters, I was happy to see Gabe and Tristan from the prior book and see how they are moving forward and get an update on Tristan’s memory problems. I’m not sure how many more books are planned for the series, but there were a number of new characters that have stories to tell, including Rick, studio owner Chet and Jon’s moody former roommate Jake.

I’m really enjoying this series and Jon and Isaac’s story had just the right balance of sweet/fluff, romance and drama. I’d recommend this story for anyone who likes a slow-burn between a couple of men who seemed destined to find each other at just the right time.  


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