A Careful Heart (Lena’s Review)

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Title: A Careful Heart
Author: Ralph Josiah Bardsley
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Release Date: March 14st 2017
Genre(s): MM Contemporary Romance, Coming of Age
Page Count: 312
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Travis Gaines and Stephen Davis are as close as two best friends can be. Born less than a month apart, they grew up as neighbors in a small northern New Hampshire town. After college, they make their way together to Boston, craving the excitement and fast pace of New England’s biggest city.

As they get their bearings in Boston, Travis falls hard for Benson, a senior executive at the financial services firm where he works. Benson is wealthy, handsome, and well connected among Boston’s well heeled. At first it seems like Benson is everything a guy could ever want, but behind that glossy veneer is a dark side that threatens to tear Travis and Stephen’s friendship apart and change their lives for ever.

A Careful Heart is a good and solid story that held my attention from the beginning up to the end, well written, with love to detail and melancholic elegance.

Not your typical MM Romance: though it is a love story, you won’t find any sex scenes here. Sex happens but out of pages.

It is in the first place a novel about deep friendship and the power of love.

Two close friends—Travis Gaines and Stephen. Whereas Stephen is rather shy and very reserved, Travis is extroverted and communicative, but despite all the differences, they are the best friends – more like brothers – and they are inseparable.

A Careful Heart is a story of their friendship, their supportive families, their profound connections to each other, their life experiences, bad and good, and about how they learn to be honest to themselves and their feelings. The author shows us their lives through high school, college, beginning of working careers and adulthood. From childhood to maturity, through thick and thin.

There is an interesting way of telling the story: Ralph Josiah Bardsley shows it from the different points of view. The focus is not steadily set on only one characters, it flows between characters, time and settings.

The book starts a bit slow but gains on pace through the story. The last part is full of surprises and an unexpected turn at then end can let us consider almost a change of a genre!

I mostly enjoyed the part that told the love story of Stephen und Gabe and the dynamic of their relationship. Moreover, Gabe became my favorite MC, though he is rather a main secondary characters in this book.

All in all, A Careful Heart is a good written, emotional and engaging novel. I think I would have enjoyed it much more if I had fallen for the main characters too, but despite I was invested in their story, I didn’t feel this deep connection to them that makes a good written book to a 5 star reading experience.

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Galley copy of A Careful Heart provided by Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.


A passionate reader from Germany. I learned to read at the age of 4 and never stopped since then, though my books from that time were very different from what they are now. English is my third language, and I’m sorry for all grammar mistakes I made in my reviews. But I assure you, that my reading English is much better than my writing English. I’m a seeker for the books that differ from mainstream, that provoke the reader or have very often very opposite ratings.

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