Title: As I Am
Author: A.M. Arthur
My Rating: B
Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: All Saints #3
Main Characters: Will and Taz
Release Date: February 2017
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot
Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he's taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chat room, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.
Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.
In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn't seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever—until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.
A.M. Arthur is one of my favorite angsty writers, but she reached all new heights with these two characters. Wow, both these guys have had a really hard time of it...but that's also why they connect. They 'meet' online where they're both safe, because both characters has extreme PTSD which affects their ability to go into strange social situations. But that's why they're so well-suited for one another. They each have extreme social anxiety and will have panic attacks. They understand that about the other...which is huge when one or both of them seems to have an episode at least once a day. (I did mention how much angst there was, right?)
So, their stories. Will was sexually abused and basically enslaved for two years when he was a teenager. Yeah, he has a few mental difficulties leftover from that...panic attacks, poor self-image, eating disorder, etc. Taz's story is a little different. Although his childhood wasn't great either...he grew up in the foster system. But he was in college and the victim of a hate crime when someone threw acid on him and his boyfriend, leaving him with horrific scars. It's left him with near-crippling agoraphobia...he's scared to death someone will attack him every time he leaves the house.
There were some twists to the story. They weren't huge surprises because all the clues are there, but it still provided some interesting trauma for the two characters at the end of the book which definitely upped the drama and suspense.
There were lots of things that I liked about this book. I loved that Tag was in it as Will's therapist (Tag is easily one of my favorite A.M. Arthur character so I always enjoy seeing him). In fact, there are lots of cameos from Arthur's other books, which is always fun. I liked how both men really and truly become stronger through their relationship. Because they are both afraid to go into strange circumstances, they gain strength by the fact that the other is just as uncomfortable. I really liked watching them both grow and evolve in their mental space...and like I've already said, I really liked how their joint issues brought them together.
Confession: This was my least favorite book from the series so far, and I'm honestly not completely sure why. At times, the dialogue seemed to go a little over the top into schmaltzy and the book was very long. I think if some of that had been cut out, I would have liked this one better.
It was an easy read. Just be warned...there is a LOT of angst and possibly some trigger points for some people. There is some horrific abuse that took place in the past of one of these characters. It hurts to read about...but is vital to understanding how that character got there.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.