Title: As I Am
Series/Universe: All Saints #3
Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: February 13th 2017
Page Count: 240 pages
Age Rating: Adult (language, explicit sexual scenes, mentions of past sexual assualt involving a minor, mentions of past hate crime, PTSD)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: As I Am
Will Madden is healing.
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.
Book three of the All Saints series.
I want to start out by saying this book deals with some disturbing past events that still plague the main characters. Will Madden was subjected to horrifying sexual assaults as a minor. Taz Zachary bears acid scars after a hate crime attack in college. Both still carry the wounds of those past events, physically and mentally. The flashbacks and mentions of these events are not extremely explicit, but may be triggering to some readers, so keep that in mind.
That being said, As I Am is such a good, hopeful romance about two individuals, trauma survivors dealing with PTSD on a daily basis, finding their new normal and learning to live and to love. It’s really kind of beautiful.
Nineteen-year-old Will lives in a halfway house and is unable to hold down a normal job due to his extreme, panic-attack inducing social anxiety. Twenty-four-year-old Taz suffers from crippling agoraphobia that prevents him from leaving his apartment and makes him completely dependent on his father, who he only recently actually met.
Will and Taz meet online and immediately bond over their shared PTSD struggles. When they meet in person, they discover their connection extends to physical attraction as well. They hit a snag right away, as Will, who’s self-worth is tied up in his perception of his value as a sexual being, wants to jump into a sexual relationship, and Taz, who struggles with his own body issues and low self-esteem, highly values his friendship with Will, the only true friendship either of them have really, and doesn’t want to ruin anything by going too fast too soon. His perceived rejection of Will doesn’t go over well, as you can imagine, and it’s an issue they have to deal with on more than one occasion.
It’s a long, sometimes painful, journey towards a happily ever after for these two – to a place of love, acceptance, and feeling safe – but they do get there, and they get there together.
A.M. Arthur got me in the feels once again with this one. I really enjoyed As I am. Yes, there’s a lot of angst, but also a lot of love and hope, and it does get better. As with other books in this series and Universe (The Belonging Series, The Restorations Series, and The All Saints Series, so far), As I am can be read as a standalone, but also includes and features characters from the other books, which I think is one of the big draws of the books in these series, the ability to kind of check in on how some of your past favorites are doing – it’s kind of like catching up with old friends. Crossing my fingers that Arthur continues this trend and continues to add more books and more series to this Universe.
Because these guys deserve a little sunshine in their life, I’m recommending Just Love Coffee Roasters Hello Sunshine Blend – a medium blend coffee with a fresh lemony taste, like the sun bursting through morning clouds, and subtle nutty caramel hints that give that little extra layer of cozy comfort in a cup.