Chet, Jake, and Cris have been living together as a triad for about a year. Things are going well in their relationship, though Jake seems to be keeping something from the other two men, which concerns them. The guys place a priority on communication, but Cris and Chet also want to give Jake some space for his own independence, especially as the younger man is still figuring out the direction for his life. However, they know something is up and it worries them both that Jake doesn’t want to talk about it.
Before they can deal with that problem, however, Chet gets a call about a death in the family. He has been estranged from them for most of his life, but he also wants to return to Georgia for the funeral. For his nephew, Dell, the loss is even more raw as Dell just left home a few years ago. So Chet wants to go back to their small town with Dell to mourn the loss, even though he knows it will be rough. Cris is coming along for moral support, but Jake can’t get off work. Jake worries not only about not being there for Chet, but also about once again feeling the odd man out of their triad. He wonders how much the other men really need him and begins to doubt himself once again.
The trip to Georgia brings a surprise that none of the men ever expected, one that could be wonderful, or could shake things up completely. At the same time, Jake faces his own challenge while Cris and Chet are gone, one that he is wary about sharing with his men. With so much going on, communication among the triad is even more important than usual. The men will have to work together and be open about their feelings if they are going to get through all the upheaval together.
Heart of Us is the fourth book in A.M. Arthur’s Us series and continues Cris, Chet, and Jake’s story. It also prominently incorporates Dell and Toro, side characters in the triad books and the focus of the third series story, Uniquely Us. So this one probably is best read by those familiar with the series and the characters and their relationships. This story reconnects us with everyone after they are all fairly settled into their relationships and the primary theme here is communication. There are a lot of things going on, mostly for Jake, but also for Chet and between Dell and Toro, where they need to rely upon and share their feelings with their partners. So here we see them having successes and failures along the way to their continued HEAs.
This story delves into some interesting conflicts. I found Chet and Dell’s trip to Georgia, as well as Chet’s subsequent revelation, to be the most engaging. I enjoyed seeing these guys make peace with their pasts, even though it doesn’t all go smoothly. Dell and Chet both needed some closure and they get that, along with some new opportunities to connect with family. It is particularly nice to see Dell get some resolution, given his situation with his family is still much more new and raw. Some of the other conflicts felt a little less engaging to me. I feel like the “Jake as the odd man out” storyline has been explored a lot in the other books, so I had trouble mustering as much excitement as once again he worries that the other guys are better off without him. I can’t tell if it helps or hurts that as a reader I often do feel that Jake seems on the outside. While Cris is much closer in age to Jake than Chet, he seems much more grown up. Jake often seems like the kid in the relationship and I have never quite gotten over that feeling. I just don’t get the connection between him and Chet the same way I do among the other pairings.
In the end, I do think this one comes together nicely. We get a nice rounding out of the relationship for our triad and they work through their conflicts well. The story is a little bit sappy at times, but it fits with the tone of these books and it is nice to see a reaffirmed HEA for them. So this is a nice way to reconnect with the characters from this series and I liked seeing some of the new challenges they faced.