Jon Buchanan is a popular porn star who uses the control he has over whom he chooses to be with as a way to forget an abusive past relationship. Once tied to a man who used systematic verbal abuse to drive Jon to the point of anorexia, Jon now keeps a tight rein on his emotions, vowing to never fall for another man. Instead, he splits his time between work and caring for his dying friend, Henry. Henry is in the end stages of a cancer that is ravaging his body. When he decides to make amends to the only girl he ever had sex with, he discovers that their time together produced a son. Unfortunately, the boy was given up for adoption and turned out to be an extremely violent abusive father to Henry’s one and only grandson, Isaac.
With Jon’s help, Henry is trying to find Isaac—a task that turns out to be relatively easy since Isaac is now a shut-in—for one full year since his maternal grandparents, with whom he had been living, passed away months apart. The only question remaining is will Isaac allow them into his life, both figuratively and physically, as his fear of being hurt again overwhelms him and keeps him locked away from everyone.
Once the initial meeting occurs, Isaac finds himself drawn for the first time to another person and Jon feels the same. Now time will nearly grind to a halt for the two men as Jon works to free Isaac from the prison he has built up around both his heart and mind. Will Isaac finally find the strength to let go of his horrifically abusive past and let Jon and Henry in before it’s too late?
The Heart As He Hears It is the third installment in author A.M. Arthur’s Perspective series. Focusing on the lives and loves of various members of the porn star world, this time Jon, aka Boomer, is the star of the show. Creating fractured characters that find their determination to reach beyond their abusive backgrounds is a skill that author A.M. Arthur not only excels at, but also has cornered the market on. Her men are not just wounded; they hide a vulnerability that often threatens to destroy them with its intensity and deep-rooted pain. Jon and Isaac are no exception.
Jon fell hard for his ex-lover Rick and failed to realize what a manipulative bastard he was. Using carefully worded barbs to make Jon doubt himself, Rick systematically abused Jon, making him question every morsel that passed his lips to the point where Jon would one day eventually exist on little more than water. When their relationship ended in Jon being hospitalized with severe injury to his heart muscle due to malnourishment, Henry and Jon’s friend Gabe (from the second Perspectives novel) stepped in to help Jon pick up the pieces of his life. But Rick had left deep hidden scars in Jon and when Rick reappears in his life years later, it is nearly Jon’s undoing. Had he not found Isaac and been focused on their budding friendship, Jon might have lost it completely.
The way in which this author wrote of Jon’s anorexia and the fact that he still needed to be vigilant and aware that it could be triggered again was flawless. No easy fixes here—both Jon and Isaac had to fight every inch back to health and recovery. For Isaac whose abuse left him almost fully deaf, the agoraphobia he lived with was intense and all consuming. Both these men had managed to somehow survive harrowing and horrible pasts and when they meet and attraction rears its head, you just want to cheer for them both. This novel spans nearly a year of their lives and allows for healing and recovery to take place on a believable scale. I so appreciated that the author chose to not rush this story, but take it one step at a time—it was a beautiful love story that was anchored in realism.
The Heart As He Hears It by A. M. Arthur is a heart-rending tale of love and compassion, forgiveness and healing. This Perspective series continues to deliver well-written stories that will stay with you well beyond the last word on the page.