Reviewed by Nikyta
Title: Stand by You
Author: A.M. Arthur
Series: Belonging #3
Heroes: Romy Myers/Brendan Walker
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 76,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: October 20, 2014
Available at: Carina Press and Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: 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.
In the previous book, Maybe This Time, we meet both Romy and Brendan. Brendan is Donner’s friend who he met working with Street Feed. Romy was just a one-night stand Ezra had before but when Romy calls Ezra for help, all three of them come and rescue Romy. Now, it’s three months later and Romy’s nowhere near his old self. He’s skittish, fragile and feeling like a stray cat. His only real safe place is with Brendan, who he’s made a deep connection with but he still feels like he’s taking advantage of Ezra and Donner’s kindness. Being with Romy brings Brendan feelings he hasn’t wanted to acknowledge in years but he has no intentions of ignoring Romy for the sake of his denial. With both of them carrying their own form of baggage and Romy’s past not willing to let go just yet, can these two get passed their issues and realize the love they both want is right there in front of them?
I think this has to be my favorite of the series so far. It’s not really about the overall story that made me fall in love with the book but the characters. I just loved how emotionally invested Brendan was but also how damaged Romy was. Two totally different individuals, inside and out, yet they still managed to find a connection that I loved reading about. More than anything, though, I liked that they were friends before they became lovers. Part of it has to do with Brendan still being in the closet while the other part is Romy healing. I enjoyed seeing their development together as a couple and as individuals. They both have their issues and their faults but they deal with them together.
As characters, I couldn’t help but adore them. Brendan is the big, strong protector while Romy is much more fragile and vulnerable. Romy is a shell of himself since Ezra, Donner and Brendan rescued him from an abusive ex and he’s finding it hard to eat and sleep and be normal again. Brendan, by contrast, just wants to be there for Romy. He didn’t know Romy before he helped rescue him but since that day three months prior, he’s felt a kinship with Romy that keeps him determined to be there for Romy. Throughout the book, Romy goes through ups and downs – panic attacks, anxiety attacks, confrontations – yet he still manages to grow to the point that by the end of the story, he’s made huge progress on coming to terms with his PTSD. Brendan plays a part in that by always being there for Romy and being his safe place. However, Romy also gives Brendan a reason to accept himself as a gay man and really come out and finally find some happiness for himself.
While I absolutely loved the book, I won’t deny that it isn’t perfect. Mainly, there’s just a few inconsistencies that would creep up at times that, to me, were obviously inaccurate. One big one is when Kiara called Ernie her “daddy”. There were also a few time-frames that I noticed weren’t consistent. Keep in mind, I read an ARC version of this book and the final product may have these errors fixed.
All in all, this was another great story in the Belonging series. I’m happy that everyone is happy and Romy and Brendan are definitely my favorite couple of the series. Probably because these two seem to be the most possessive and jealous of the couples so far. Hehe. Still, I’m interested to see if there will be more in this series or not. I already checked the author’s site and noticed there’s a spinoff series to come called Wilmington featuring Tag in the first novel and I can’t wait to check that out! If you enjoy stories with a bit of angst, emotionally damaged characters and a slower romance, definitely give this one a go!
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*