Avery is physically and emotionally scarred from a life of abuse. Crippled by anxiety, he relies on his foster brother, Sam, to keep himself from escaping completely. Sam convinces Avery to start therapy in the hopes that he will be able to control his anxiety. Then Avery meets Noah Yates. Noah is physically large and powerful, everything that strikes fear into Avery. As Avery continually pushes Noah away, Noah’s tenderness towards him sparks hope in Avery. Can Avery climb out of the blackness that has been holding him hostage, or will he forever be a victim?
This book ripped me apart, page after page. Avery is 23 and struggling with years of physical and emotional abuse. The only person he truly trusts is his foster brother Sam. Now that Sam is moving on in his life, considering getting married to his girlfriend, Avery needs to begin to face his past so that he can begin looking towards his own future. As he begins to confront his past, readers are taken into world many of us aren’t all that comfortable visiting. Initially, Avery struck me as being immature, bordering on childlike. Yet, as his story unfolded, I found myself empathizing with what he had been through, what he was going through, and hoping he could find his way out of the hell he was living in.
Noah, on the other hand, is this big, brawny guy with a heart of gold. Drawn to Avery, he finds himself wanting to slay his dragons for him, but knows that Avery has to do it for himself. Despite Avery’s wishes for him to leave him alone, Noah was always there, waiting for Avery, willing to show him that not everyone in this world is evil. This is romance at its finest as Noah woos Avery and shows him that life is worth living if he reaches out and grabs his hand.
The secondary characters in this book are also well developed. Avery’s foster brother, his co-workers, his therapist – each and every one of them are rooting for Avery to find his way out of the darkness and into the light. My favorite though was Sam, the big-brother figure we all wish we could have. His selflessness as he puts Avery’s needs ahead of his own…something Avery knows and feels guilty about. There is one scene that literally had me in tears and reaching for the tissues when Sam decided to spend the night at his girlfriend’s and we know that if he knew what was going on as soon as he left, he’d have never left.
I will warn readers that this book is not an easy read. It’s so true-to-life and raw that at times I had such a sense of hopelessness that Avery was not ever going to move forward. For every step Avery takes forward, he seems to fall back two.
This book is also not a traditional “romance” in the sense that boy meets boy, they hop in bed again and again and again, and then live happily ever after. Instead, what readers are treated to is a very slowly built up relationship between Avery and Noah, one where they develop deep feelings for one another before their relationship even gets to any physical contact between thwm. Despite this, I found this being one of those books and love stories that stuck with me days after reading it. I eagerly look forward to the sequel!