Title: Unearthing Cole (Discovering Me #1)
Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C.Chase
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: contemporary m/m romance
Length: Novel (171 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Cole finds in Jeremy an unexpected ally on his way back to himself.
The Blurb: Cole Alston swore he’d never return to his childhood home in rural North Carolina, but when his mother dies, he inherits her hoarded property. He hopes to sell everything and use the money to start over in Canada, far away from his abusive ex-boyfriend. It’s a daunting task, and Cole has no idea where to start. Luckily for him, the local antique store owner, Jeremy Collins, volunteers his services in sorting the hoard. Their professional relationship soon evolves into a personal one, but Cole must overcome his past and his anxiety before he can accept a new man in his life or the possibility of a happy future.
Discovering Me Series
The Review: Spousal abuse often leaves behind more than the visible scars with the victim; the mental damage often far exceeds the physical harm. The character of Cole suffers from a mental chaos of fear, shame, guilt, and humiliation that has him always on the edge, ready to cut and run at the first hint that his ex-boyfriend might have tracked him down–again, since this has happened several times already over the two years since Cole left his abuser.
And now Cole feels like a sitting duck, so to speak, trapped in his rural North Carolina hometown with no money but his parent’s legacy to take care of. As he says himself, his father was a collector and his mother was a hoarder, so this might take a while, since Cole can’t afford to have his parents’ property steamrollered and be done with like he’d love to do. Enter Jeremy Collins who seems like a godsend to Cole. Not only is Jeremy an antiques dealer with an unparalleled knack for sniffing out valuable items in what Cole thinks is only a pile of junk, he volunteers his help–for a cut of the yield, but since Cole figures that without Jeremy there wouldn’t be much of a yield to begin with, he gladly accepts the offer.
Soon the two begin a careful dancing around each other. Jeremy’s interest seems to go beyond a mere business relationship, which has Cole confused, and wary at the same time. For one, due to his parents’ quirkiness, Cole used to be considered an outsider and freak during his youth, and he can’t believe anyone in his hometown could ever overlook his past. And then, his history as an abuse victim has left Cole with major trust issues; he simply doesn’t dare to open up to Jeremy, much less begin a relationship with him.
But Jeremy is nothing if not patient. He has his own painful past to deal with; an abundance of personal losses have left him somewhat commitment-shy, and yet he can’t resist the attraction he feels for Cole. Not that he really wanted to, in the end.
It will take all of Cole’s survivor’s bravery and all of Jeremy’s gentle and patient persuasiveness to bring these two together.
This was a captivatingly written story and an engrossing read. I really loved the writing style, smooth and flowing with just the right amount of humor thrown in to keep this from tipping over into misery, despite the various serious subjects that were brought up over the course of the story. I also thought the hurt/ comfort theme very well executed–no miracle healing through sex in here, and no love conquers all either. The relationship between Cole and Jeremy builds slowly, gradually, at times in a one step forward, two steps back way that I thought fit both their personalities and past histories perfectly.
Speaking of which, I found both characters very well-drawn, three dimensional and realistic, both Cole, the narrator, and Jeremy, whom we only get to see through Cole’s eyes. There wasn’t much secondary cast to speak of, except for Martin, Cole’s ex-boyfriend, who was mostly a specter in the background and yet very much present in the impact he still had on Cole’s life.
However, here was also the only issue I had with this book, because the eventual solution to the abuser/abuse victim issue came a little out of left field. Although realistic, this scene felt a little rushed, a little too easy, but this might be only me and others might think differently.
At any case, it was beautiful to watch Cole fight to overcome the ghosts of his past, beautiful how Jeremy offered him support and understanding and found comfort of his own in doing so. It didn’t take me long to root for them big time, and I was happy to see them together.
All in all, I can warmly recommend this beautifully written, hurt/comfort themed story.