Publisher: MLR Press
Published: July 17, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M
Book Format: E-book
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by: Helena Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org
Twenty-one year old Dex’s life is on a downward spiral. One night destroyed his world and his dreams. He can’t eat and can’t sleep haunted by nightmares and flashbacks. He has lost his jobs and will lose his apartment before too long. He can’t see a way forward anymore and is ready to give into despair and give up on the world.
Dex’s friends aren’t prepared to let him slide though. One man in particular will catch him when the darkness threatens to overwhelm him. Brian will take him in and hold Dex while he fights his demons. With endless patience and bottomless love Brian will show Dex the way back to himself and build him up until he can see a future and believe in love again.
This book is the eight title in the Arbor Heights series. Having read none of the previous books I can safely say this book can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone. I have however no doubt that those who have read the previous titles would enjoy this opportunity to reconnect with characters they’ve met before.
‘Not Quite Broken’ is an emotional read. It is impossible to read this story and not have your heart break for young Dex. The twenty-one year old had only just found the courage to go dancing in a gay club when he’s brutally attacked and raped. While the physical wounds heal, the mental scars are much harder to deal with and Dex is constantly scared and insecure.
When his nightmares and fears get too much one night, Dex reaches out to Brian, the slightly older man who has stood with and beside him since the night of the attack. With Brian’s help Dex slowly ventures out into the world again. Helping Brian teach self-defence to women who have been the victim of violence not only shows Brian that he’s not alone but also teaches him techniques to keep himself safe. They’re small steps and it’s a slow process but the old Dex slowly begins to re-emerge in the safety of Brian’s company.
I adored Brian as a character. In fact, on one or two occasions he bordered on the edge of too good to be true. His endless patience, his willingness to ignore his own feelings and needs and the ease with which he transformed his own life so that Dex fitted into it seemed somewhat unrealistic at times. Especially taking into account the feelings Brian was developing for Dex and his uncertainty about the younger man’s feelings and even the appropriateness of any feelings he might be developing.
Dex was a far more realistic character for me. His road to discovery isn’t a straight line. He faces his ups and downs and only slowly finds his way back to himself. And I’m glad about that. A miracle cure as a result of love would have taken this storyline from a bit too good to be true into too unrealistic to be enjoyable for me.
The slowly developing bond and relationship between these two men was a joy to read about and at times incredibly hot even though sex played a relatively minor part in the story. It was the slow build-up of Dex’s confidence and trust that took my breath away and made the story for me.
I enjoyed this book. It was a beautiful and touching story told in a sensitive yet realistic manner. If I have one reservation it is that it all ended a bit too perfectly. While I wanted a happy ever after for these characters I did have a problem with how everything just fell into place for Dex by the time the story ended. Leaving that aside, this was a fascinating read that had me hooked from the first page and didn’t let go until the very end.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.