Friday, June 6, 2014

Aaron by JP Barnaby

Title: Aaron
Author: JP Barnaby
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m) 
Series: Survivor Stories #1
Main Characters: Aaron and Spencer
Release Date: October 2012
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day. 

Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again. 

With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage? 

Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.

My Review:
I can't imagine reading this book and not having your heart shredded by what Aaron has been and continues to go through. As a mother, my heart absolutely breaks for him. When he was 16, Aaron was kidnapped, tortured, raped, and left for dead after watching the same thing happen to his female best friend. This book takes place two years later...and he's not okay. In fact, he's no where close to okay. He's a barely functioning person with extreme and severe PTSD and a host of other mental illnesses plaguing him and spends much of his time in a haze of medication. But after hearing his parents discussing institutionalizing him, he realizes that he has to do something so agrees to go to college. There he meets Spencer. 

Spencer has his own issues. He was born deaf and it's just him and his dad. But stress in his dad's life has left Spencer pretty much on his own. That's something that he can handle, but he completely understands Aaron's fear of ostracism and being in the public. Most people don't handle Spencer's strange voice very well and treat him like he's retarded. As a result, he hates to interact with others. 

The two are in a class together and bond over a joint class project. They become friends and allies and then much more as they get to know each other better. 

I liked the way this story played out. Because of Aaron's issues, it's a very, very slow build-up of a relationship. And because of Spencer's issues as well as the understanding that comes through his dad's occupation as a psychiatrist who deals with traumas, his ability to connect with Aaron worked for me. I liked how Aaron was able to immerse himself in their project and take some of his focus away from his issues. 

The book has a lot of really difficult reality, but it never felt like too much or depressing. I liked the realistic issues that the author showed that the entire family has to deal with because of what happened to Aaron. He wasn't the only victim in this horrific crime...his entire family was and the author did an amazing job showing that. It's a hard story, but still one that I loved. Aaron is so strong, even though he doesn't feel that. It's an amazing survivor story and an incredible love story, too.

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