A Careful Heart (Steph’s Review)

Title: A Careful Heart
Authors: Ralph Josiah Bardsley
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 312
Reviewed by: Steph
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.00 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.

Warning: Even though most of the abuse goes on behind the scenes and is more mentioned than anything, I still want to inform the reader. Possible triggers include Domestic Violence.

This isn’t a romance story as much as it is a story about two boys, Travis and Stephen, that have known each other their whole lives. We get follow them throughout years of friendship as they navigate through high school, college, employment and relationships. Whether there is a physical and/or an emotional distance between them, we get to see how it affects the individual as well as the dynamics of their friendship. We not only get to know Travis and Stephen, but their family and friends as well. In time, we are introduced to Gabe, whose life eventually crosses their path.

Once the trio meets, I feel that Travis and Stephen’s friendship starts to grow apart while things between Stephen and Gabe move closer together. Thus, feeling that the POV weighs heavily with Stephen, followed by Gabe IMO.

There were two areas that bothered me in the story, and here they are:

  • There is point in the story between Gabe and Stephen where I thought the author would slightly mention Stephen’s first time. Especially, after Gabe explains how his was special and in turn wants to do the same for him. Yet, that is all that is mentioned. I can only assume that his first time was that night and that Gabe did his best to make it memorable for him.
  • While the author seems to wrap everything up pretty nicely in the end with Travis’s HFN and Stephen and Gabe’s moving in with one another; he does not in fact let us know if either Travis and/or Stephen received a promotion at their jobs. The only one that did receive a promotion in all that time is Gabe.

Side Note: All sexy times happen behind the scenes.

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


I love reading books about boys who love other boys <3. Sometimes there is a HEA or HFN, but sometimes it just is. Yes, I love all outcomes even it is not what I hoped for. We all need a good cry from time to time. As you can probably can tell, I love cliffhangers as well. Yeah, I am one of those people :) I read a variety of genres, whether it is dark/taboo, historical, shifters, GFY, SciFi, mysteries/thrillers; I love it all.