Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
It’s only been a couple months since the auction of Cole Alston’s parents hoard, and Jeremy Collins has been grateful for each day he’s had with Cole, but he’s not sure if Cole plans to stay. Cole is a free spirit and, to be honest, doesn’t have the best memories of the town. And even though Jeremy wants Cole to stay, he’d never force that decision on him. Everyone who has ever meant anything to Jeremy has left him—his wife, his parents, and his sister all died within four years of one another—so whether he realizes it or not, he prepares himself to Cole’s eventual departure.
When Jeremy’s best friend and former sister-in-law comes to him with a problem, he’s willing to help until he hears her terms. Bethann knowingly slept with a married man and got pregnant and wants Jeremy to say that they baby is his. The town would believe it since he and Bethann have been close for years, and no one in town knows he’s bisexual and in a relationship with Cole. And six months ago, before Cole walked into his life, Jeremy probably would have done it. But now there was no way he can. Because even though he isn’t running through the streets proclaiming his love for Cole, he isn’t openly denying him either, and to claim Bethann’s baby would be doing so.
But when Bethann panics and tells a co-worker that Jeremy is the father anyway, Jeremy and Cole’s world threatens to rip apart at the seams. Cole still flinches, may always flinch, like he expects Jeremy to hit him. Jeremy, as much as he wants Cole to stay, will not force the decision so he controls his words and his emotions until the dam bursts sending both men into a spiral of loss they may not be able to come back from.
Understanding Jeremy is the perfect sequel to A.M. Arthur’s previous release Unearthing Cole. I’m still reeling from the emotions in this novella. I fell in love with Jeremy and Cole in the first book and I’m so happy to see them back and see their relationship grow in this story. I like how the author continues their story but does it from Jeremy’s perspective. In book one, I think readers mistakenly think that even though Jeremy has lost so much, his life is pretty well put together, but that isn’t so much the case. Jeremy is fraught with indecision and insecurities, always afraid that the next best thing is going to walk out of his life or be taken from him. It’s like he believes he deserves it for some reason. It’s happened to him so often that he’s afraid to hope and definitely afraid to fight for what he wants, which is why he finds himself in a stalemate situation in this story. Then there’s Cole. Oh, dear sweet Cole. I love that there is a progression from the beginning of the last book to now. Yes, he still flinches at loud noises, he still expects Jeremy to be angry with him, and he even expects to be hit at times. But overall, his character is growing, rebuilding. He’s learning to stand up for himself and what he wants. He’s by no means bold or a go-getter, but he’s moved past the skittish, timid kid who first walked into town and, at least with Jeremy, he’s learning that if he wants something he’s going to have to ask for it.
The addition of Bethann and her pregnancy adds a few levels of stress and heartache to this story. One, Bethann is Jeremy’s best friend and she practically saved his life at one point. He’d do just about anything for her. And up until the point that he had Cole in his life, he would have gone along with her plan to name him as her baby’s father. But that leads to stress/heartache level two. Although Cole has been living at Jeremy’s house for the past few months, no one but Bethann knows they sleep in the same room. Everyone in town thinks they’re simply roommates. And therein lies the conundrum. No one knows Jeremy is bisexual and rumors are flying around town that Cole is gay. Jeremy absolutely does not want to deny Cole, but he also fears that as soon as Cole’s parents’ land sells he’ll move on to the next town. And where would Jeremy be then? Then Bethann lets the proverbial lying cat out of the bag so that Jeremy and Cole are not only battling their own issues, but the rumors and judgments from the townsfolk. And whereas it’s not the focus of all of their problems—as a matter of a fact, they work through it easily enough—it’s a catalyst to the rest of their issues and ignites them like napalm.
This story fraught with emotion and angst, but it’s sweet and gentle too. It’s more of a stepping stone to Jeremy and Cole’s eventual happily ever after (and I hope they have one). But there are things that I believe the author left out intentionally in anticipation of another installment of this series. There’s no way for me to grace those topics without giving away a lot of the plot so I’m not going to attempt it. Just know that this story ends in a very happy for now manner with a hopeful anticipation of an eventual happily ever after.
I freaking love this author. No question about it. Everything she’s put out that I’ve read is perfection. And Understanding Jeremy is right up there at the top. I liked it more than the first book, maybe because I was given the opportunity to get to know Jeremy better in this book. I loved both Jeremy and Cole in the first story, but now that I’ve learned more about them and seen them grow together, I’m waiting on the sidelines, cheering for their ever after. Because if anyone deserves happy it’s these two guys. I highly recommend Understanding Jeremy by A.M. Arthur.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.