Rating: 5 stars
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A Charm of Finches follows the remarkable, An Exaltation of Larks, and the writing is just as riveting. However, this is a completely different book. The brutal abuse and trauma that Geno has suffered is many steps past horrifying and while some of the scenes are not overly explicit, the stunning writing never leaves any doubt just what Geno has endured, both in body and spirit. Even those readers who seek out darker books may be left feeling splayed open at times.
Javier Landes has given up his career as an escort. Except now, he’s not sure who he is. He’s tried to find love, but love has been more than a little bit hard on him. When he meets Steffen Finch, an art therapist that works with male victims of sexual assault, his interest in the man sort of scares Jav. Their inquisitive friendship turns passionate and meaningful and Jav is at once grateful, as well as terrified of a chance at happiness being snatched away from him once again.
Curator & Sailor is what is stated on Stef’s business cards, and the meaning behind it appeals to Javier’s creative mind. Stef is the one all of his colleagues turn to with the toughest cases and while he can connect with his patients, Stef also has a desire to connect on a personal level. Everything about Javier calls to Stef, but Javier is everything Stef never expected.
In another part of the state, Geronimo “Geno” Caan is a freshman in college. After he survived the most unimaginable and horrific assault, coupled with the most devastating betrayal and loss, Geno’s mind is fractured. All of him was so unprepared for what he experienced that an “alter” was created. The alter will never allow the unspeakable to be spoken and while Geno’s body tries to heal, his mind is forever changed.
Geno becomes Stef’s most challenging case. Stef’s approach is if patients can live it, he can hear it, but he doesn’t have to feel it himself and he walks through his work day with a sense of armor in place. Geno gets through that armor and his case becomes personal for both Stef and Jav. It will take everything for Stef to steer them all through it, while maintaining his most important job of all: to return home to Jav.
This book was simply amazing. The writing, while being completely accessible, has an otherworldly and highly visual quality. This book moves forward from the first one and continues Jav’s story as he builds a relationship with Stef. Jav is a stunning character and Stef is his perfect complement. There is so much to their story as Jav finds love for the first time and is terrified because it is so easy and nothing for him has ever been easy. Stef has a sense of compassion that is on a completely different level as his profession was more of a calling and his patients, who have suffered brutal torture, are forever changed for the better in his care.
Geno’s story is traumatic to read, but he tells an important story. The writing is once again spectacular as the author shows us a mind that has been pushed to the limit and the moment it cracks and breaks in an effort to protect itself. We do get a breather from the trauma as we watch Jav and Stef fall in love and each step in their relationship is a revelation to them and their story is beautifully drawn.
The stories overlap and run parallel to both the present and the past and the imagery and the tie-ins are outstanding to witness. The book moves through scenes of the lives of all the characters and the remarkable way in which their lives intersect was breathtaking and each character, including all of the secondary characters, move with a purpose. It takes a special person to write these characters and all of the them will become a true favorite, which would seem impossible to achieve. Geno’s story will fiercely pull you in, both when he is shattered and brought down, as well as when he rises up and Jav and Stef offer the real deal of true love and enduring compassion. A Charm of Finches is a story to read, savor, revisit, and recommend.
On a side note, in the books, Javier is a writer. The author of this story, Suanne Laqueur, will be writing the book Javier has been working on since An Exaltation of Larks under the character’s pen name and if there ever was a thing that was my thing, that is my thing, and I will be looking out for that one.
This does sound quite dark but fascinating, Michelle. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. And what a lovely cover!