Reviewed by Susan65
Author: CJ Bishop
Heroes: Devlin Grant and Abel Sims
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 134 pages
Publisher: Rascal Hearts
Release Date: January 23, 2014
Available Free at: Smashwords
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: 19-year-old Abel Sims – hot, sexy stripper – is a favorite at the gay strip club The Phoenix. Having no family but his 16-year-old sister, Savannah, and coming from the streets – The Phoenix club has become his home, the other boys his close-knit family.
Abel doesn’t trust the outside world and is content to remain within his safe haven. But when an overzealous customer sends Abel to the ER, he meets young, handsome Dr. Devlin Grant – and the instant attraction he feels for the man stirs up the nightmares of his past, causing him to resist his new feelings. Yet it becomes impossible to avoid the doctor when Savannah gets sick and ends up in his care.
And just when his heart is ready to trust this new found love – Abel is confronted with a disturbing fact about the doctor that reaches deep into his past and his nightmares. An emotionally charged, sexy, heart-wrenching love story that will break your heart, then put it back together again.
I believe CJ Bishop is a first time author since I have been unable to locate any other books, nor any contact information. Whether this is true or not, the story is really well written and easy to read, even if the content is far from easy. It wasn’t perfect and I had to suspend belief a little, but when I let those little issues go I was able to enjoy the story for what it was, and leave my pet peeves behind. I would, however, really like to know that this is part of a series as that would definitely weigh in on my review. Unfortunately, since I haven’t any clarification, and the story left quite a bit unanswered, I am going to ASSUME that, yes, it is the first book in the series, and review accordingly. (Edited: I have found the author and yes, this is a series and the sequel should be out soon, so yay!)
Abel Sims is a heartbreaker…and I mean this is a non physical way. Life has been beyond brutal and unfair to him and he has no faith in ever having a normal life. He is the product of loser parents, the victim of an abusive volunteer at the group home he lived in with his little sister; homeless for a couple years with said little sister, and currently a stripper in a club that has become more of a home and family to him than any place so far. How sad is that?
Abel hides his actual job duties from his sister, and instead tells her that he is a stockroom clerk at the club. He is full of guilt for being unable to better protect Savannah during their childhood, and is in constant fear and worry over how frail and sickly she is. Sadly, her illness is not caused my poor eating habits or their past living circumstances, but because she is truly ill, a life-threatening disease that just about destroys Abel and forces him to make a decision that he is unsure he will be able to carry out.
Due to Abel’s rape as a young boy, he is unable to be touched by anyone without freaking out. He has never had sex voluntarily and has panic attacks if anyone grabs him. Such an enigma in the stripper industry but Abel is able to dance on stage and sometimes offers lap dances. The customers can’t touch, except to drop the cash in his g-string, and the environment is safe and controlled…for the most part.
Abel is very lucky to have fellow strippers, and lovers, Gabe and Cole as friends. They are more like family to him and he trusts them more than anyone else. He knows they will never hurt him, and they prove daily how much they love and care for him. They also teach him what it’s like to make love willingly. They are never going to be in a committed relationship, but they are committed to him as a person and would do anything for him, literally anything. Some might have an issue with this but the way it was written took any of the taboo away. It never came across as sick or cheating or dirty, just the ultimate show of love for a boy who has known everything but.
During this whole saga of dealing with Abel’s back injury (caused by an overly horny customer) and his sister’s disease, we are introduced to Dr. Devlin Grant. Devlin is instantly and wholly attracted to Abel and Abel to him. However, Abel is not delusional enough to think the handsome doctor would accept a broken man, who is also a stripper. He won’t allow himself to have faith or believe in anything. He truly is a heartbroken kid who has given up on a world that gave up on him and his sister. Devlin, meanwhile, is not willing to take no for an answer.
Watching the back and forth between the two is painful. Both are trying so hard, but the gulf between them seems to be growing wider and wider. I was truly concerned how this story could end with any type of resolution because nothing was being settled and the pages were starting to run out. But then finally, FINALLY, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Devlin and Abel seemed to be bridging that huge gap and then wammo, Abel’s past and Devlin’s past collided with devastating consequences….the END!
For real?? I was like, “no way, where’s the rest of the story, where is the next book, where is the author????” There is honestly no way that the story was meant to end at the conclusion of this book, so I am crossing all my fingers and toes, while keeping my eye out for the sequel. (Edited: see first paragraph above, yes there is a sequel coming soon) Definitely not an easy subject matter, but I do foresee a happy ending…they just have a little more work to do to get there.
Overall Impression: I really liked it
Content Warning: Rape, Abuse, No HEA or HFN…Yet