Title: Stand By You
Series/Universe: The Belonging Series, #3
Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: October 20th 2014
Page Count: 222 pages
Age Rating: Adult (explicit sexual scenes and violence, mentions of past assault)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: Stand By You
Three months after his rescue from an abusive boyfriend, twenty-two-year-old Romy Myers has landed his first legitimate job—bussing tables at his friend’s new coffee shop. The job has brought him some stability after years of abuse have left him feeling damaged and broken. He’s working hard on his panic and social anxiety, and those things are often tempered by the big, burly presence of Brendan Walker.
From the moment ex-football player Brendan helped rescue Romy from his ex’s abuse, he’s wanted to protect him. And he does, from a distance, with joking text messages, a new gym routine to toughen him up and a genuine friendship. So far it’s been easy—but Brendan’s feelings aren’t just friendly anymore…
When an argument spirals out of control, a hot and heavy make-out session causes Romy’s friendship with supposedly straight Brendan to reach a new level. The last thing Romy wants is to fall for another guy who could potentially shatter him, but Brendan also wakes up a part of him he thought had been destroyed by violence—his heart.
Oh, man, I told myself I wasn’t going to cry… and then I did. Multiple times. Sad tears. Happy tears. “Oh, Honey” tears. I just wanted to give Romy a hug half the time. The other half of the time I wanted to hug Brendan. I’m just so happy they have each other to hug *wipes tear from my eye*.
This book was so emotional and sweet. It’s a slow burn, slow build romance between two men who care so so deeply for each other and it’s really a beautiful thing to watch. Romy’s been through so much in his past (trigger warnings here for vivid depictions of past physical, mental, and sexual assault) and he’s understandably skittish, but he feels safe with big, soft-hearted ex-college football player Brendan. Romy thinks he’s damaged, but Brendan thinks he’s perfect. The two take a while to reconcile their romantic feelings for each other (especially since everyone is under the mistaken impression that Brendan is straight), but it was really touching to read as it all unfolded and Romy and Brendan got their much deserved happy ending.
Stand By You is the third book in The Belonging Series, and it’s the one that’s pulled on my heartstrings the most. The books in the series can be read as standalones, but I recommend reading them all, and in order, since there’s some carry over with characters and events. For instance, Maybe This Time (The Belonging Series #2: My Review) is Ezra and Donner’s story, towards the end of that book Ezra’s ex-hook-up/sort-of friend Romy needs help out of a dangerous situation, and Ezra comes running to the rescue with his boyfriend Donner and Donner’s best friend Brendan. This is how Romy and Brendan meet. But this is explained in Stand By You, so you don’t need to read Maybe This Time, but trust me you want to. Ezra and Donner go on to play pretty important roles in Stand By You, as do Jamie and Alessandro (the main characters from the first book in this series, No Such Thing, which I still haven’t read even though I keep meaning to).
I absolutely recommend Stand By You, as well as the other books in The Belonging Series, wholeheartedly. They’re a little heavy on the angst, but that just makes the good, happy romantic parts that much more meaningful. If you love a good, emotional romance this is one you can’t miss.
Stand By You got me all teary-eyed multiple times. For a great pick-me up coffee for such occasions I recommend Godiva Chocolate Truffle Coffee – a medium roast coffee made with the amazing sweet and smooth taste of Godiva chocolate truffles. One sip of this is enough to bring me back to my happy place (which I definitely needed after Romy’s last visit to his therapist – 🙁 )