Steven Everett has lost the man he loves, Aidan, to another man, and he is heartbroken. But he has something more important to focus on. Michael Rossier has been beaten within an inch of his life and Steven feels the need to be there in the hospital for him. He doesn’t know Michael, but they have a shared connection: Aidan. The more Steven is there for Michael, the more their connection moves to something else. Steven starts to fall for Michael as he recovers from his horrific injuries and that scares him. He doesn’t want his heart broken again and he knows that Michael was the one to cheat on Aidan.
But as the men grow closer, it’s obvious the attraction is mutual. Feelings grow quickly between them. When Michael has to have his eye removed to save his health, Steven is there for him. But the next day he leaves. Michael is hurt and can’t understand why Steven would disappear for a day when he’s in need of him. But Steven tells Michael the truth, knowing that this is a make or break moment for their fledgling relationship. If Michael can’t accept the fact that Steven has a six-year-old son, then Steven is going to get his heart broken again.
Michael is scared when he learns about Steven’s son, Ben, but he also knows he cares too much about Steven to walk away. Michael grows stronger and recovers from his injuries and he’s finally released from the hospital. Steven brings him home to meet his son and his family. While Steven’s father and one of his brothers are okay with the news, Steven’s mother and other brothers can’t accept it as easily. But Michael is all in, and so is Steven. Now they just have to navigate these obstacles and find their way to a happily ever after.
To begin, I have to say that I had a little trouble getting into this book at the start. It’s a sequel to Loving Aidan and while the author does a really good job of giving us the background of the previous book, I did feel like I was missing something not having read it. So while this technically can be read as a standalone—I had no trouble following along—I think I missed some of the deeper connections to the characters in the beginning. Read Loving Aidan before you read Steven’s Heart. It’ll be worth it.
Once I got past that beginning and started forming my own connections to the characters, the story really took off for me. Doyon does a masterful job of crafting Steven, of showing us his heart and his motivation, of really letting us understand the man. I got where he was coming from every step of the way and I loved watching him learn to love again. As he opened his heart, he became a man that was easy to love. He was sweet and caring and loyal, and damn, does he care for those he loves. This guy was almost too good to be true, and yet he was grounded in reality enough that he didn’t seem like a fairy tale.
Michael was a little bit harder to connect to for me, simply because we’re always in Steven’s head and so we only see Michael through the lens of Steven’s perception. But eventually, I was invested in him as well. He is a recovering drug addict, and I loved how honest he was about that. I really appreciated that he spoke of the struggle that it was, and that he was clean and wanted to stay that way, but that relapse might happen. I loved his determination underneath his fear as well. He’d suffered a horrible beating, all for asking a guy for drinks. His injuries were numerous and he was scared about a lot of things. But as he healed, and with Steven’s help, he gain his confidence and really showed us what he was made of.
Steven’s son Ben was a bit of a surprise, and seemed to come out of left field at first. I had a bit of a quibble that Ben acted a little younger than he was supposed to be, but overall, once I got past the initial shock, I thought it was an enhancement to the story and explained some of Steven’s reluctance to get involved. I enjoyed Steven and Ben’s interactions, and I loved the way Steven was frank and honest with his son. And the way Michael was with Ben was just too adorable for words, and I really loved to see him being so wonderful to his boyfriend’s son.
I also had a small quibble with how fast Steven and Michael moved into love. I needed to feel a bit more of a connection between them, in the beginning, to take that leap with them. But though the declarations came early, by the end, it was clear that their love was solid and wonderful. I also have to make note of a personal issue with the sex. It was hot, and loving, and wonderfully intimate, but I kept remembering Michael’s injuries and it made me wonder if some of the things were possible. I was absolutely willing to forgive that though, because during those scenes, the connection between them just sparked off the page.
After reading the blurb, I picked up this book because I wanted to see how this kind of relationship could possibly work. Doyon did a really great job of making me suspend belief and diving into this story with these characters. He’s got true talent as a writer, and I really enjoyed this book.