Title: As I Am (All Saints #3)
Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: February 13, 2017
Page Count: 368
Reviewed by: Steph
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.88 stars out of 5
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.
Possible triggers include: Statutory rape, coerced child prostitution, drug abuse, child abuse/neglect and assault.
I, like many others have waited patiently for Will’s story to be written. From the first time he appeared so fragile and distant in book one of the All Saint’s Series, Come What May. With my interests peaked I needed to know more about this lonely boy named Will. Then I had an “ah ha” moment. I realized that the Will from this book is in fact the same Will from Getting it Right, another book by A.M. Arthur. I really liked how well she intertwined both series; making it her own “universe” so to speak.
I swear, as this series progresses so does the amount of pain the two MC’s go through. I mean, I knew something horrible happened to Will with how he has carried himself since book one, but I never thought it was to this extent. He’s broken yet finds the strength within himself, with the help of his therapist, Dr. James Taggert (also in above said series), to start to reclaim his life. Then due to a no-sex rule by his therapist he meets Taz in an online chat room; of course not trolling for sex. After some time passes, they decide to take the step to meet one another. Taz, however has his own demons he fights daily. One moment he’s an outgoing senior in college, kissing his boyfriend for the first time, after his wrestling team didn’t win nationals. The next he’s a recluse hiding from the danger and judgement of others that lurk outside his apartment. It only took a split second and an ignorant asshole to change his life forever.
Even though they both suffer from PTSD, their pasts affect their actions differently. Will is on the verge of sexual addiction (hence no-sex rule); though it took a lot of therapy and over three years for him to get to this critical/risky behavior (not saying this is a positive result). His mindset being he’s the one taking control; making the choice to give his body, giving him the power. While Taz is the exact opposite, and is too afraid to let anyone near him, much less be intimate with them. Fearing that some other hate monger is out there waiting for him. Practically making him a born again virgin; since he hasn’t been close to anyone in over two years. However, I really like how the author took the time with these two. It means more to Taz to have a friend, than to give into their desires which might only result in a one and done. By doing this one simple act, which at the time caused a lot of strife, is what makes them work IMO.
As time passes, and their friendship turns into something more, they find their lives connected in ways they never would have imagined. This is where the main turmoil lies, and where the mystery part of the story starts to unfold. As usual, I don’t want to spoil the story for others and will leave it at that.
IMO the author does a great job with the realism of these characters, their lives and of course their HEA. In fact, there are no magical wands that can be waived; no Band-Aids to cure-all nor free them of their psychological confinements. What does happens though for both Taz and Will, are that small victories are slowly won each day. Because together they can do anything, and in the end they are who the other needs.