Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Jonas needs Tate. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Or at least, he doesn’t want to admit it. Because there is no way Jonas Ashcroft is gay. He’s a straight, carefree frat boy player, just like any good son of a conservative state senator. If only his struggle to convince everyone—especially himself—didn’t leave him so miserable. No matter how many girls or bottles he drowns himself in, Jonas can neither escape nor accept who he is.
Enter Tate. He’s smart, confident, and instantly sees right through Jonas’s surly exterior. Sure, he’s done things in life he’s not proud of, but he knows who he is and what he wants. And what he wants is Jonas. As their easy friendship intensifies into something more, Tate introduces Jonas to a life he’s never known. One filled with acceptance and sex and a love that terrifies and excites them both.
But some inner demons refuse to be shaken off so easily. When Jonas’s old life barges in, he faces a shattering choice, one that could destroy everything he and Tate have fought so hard for. Sometimes love just isn’t enough—and sometimes it’s exactly what you need.
Review: I was positively glued to this first book in the new All Saints series. This coming of age story has an easy flow, great pacing, and no forced drama. Tate and Jonas are superb together and were easy to love. I enjoyed getting to know them and watching them grow to love one another.
Jonas is a 21 year old Senator’s son from Chicago. His prick of a father had pulled Jonas from college and sent him to Wilmington, Delaware to work at his Aunt Doris’ thrift shop. It was to be his first job ever. Seems Jonas had been involved in a frat hazing gone wrong, so the disappointed Senator felt getting him out of the city and putting him to work would set his head straight — and conveniently diffuse scandal. I describe Jonas as a Senator’s son because, really, that is what his life had revolved around. His controlling dad hadn’t allowed him to develop his own identity. To fit in and not make waves, Jonas dutifully went to the college chosen for him, joined a frat, slept with girls, and tried to focus on finishing school. His ultimate plan was to get a degree, become independent, and escape his father’s influence. On top of the lack of love and support from his parents, his trouble making sense of math and numbers made him feel stupid. And then there was the fact that he was gay but hiding it from everyone, including himself.
Tate, at a mere 23 years old, runs the All Saints House with his friend Marc. It’s a center for at risk LGBTQ teens located across the street from the thrift store. Tate’s teen years of life on the streets and in foster care didn’t stop him from working hard and gaining custody of his two sisters. Hardworking, responsible, openly gay Tate seemed to be the antithesis of Jonas.
Jonas had been sent to Wilmington as a punishment, but it turned out to be his salvation. Doris and her husband Raymond were down to earth, welcoming people. Their home was cozy, full of love and light. The people of the town were warm and friendly to Jonas. All Saints House was across the street from the thrift shop, so Jonas met Tate his first day on the job. The somewhat snarky Tate was immediately drawn to Jonas’ good looks, and he was also intrigued by his grouchy, guarded demeanor. Tate was also pinging on Jonas being gay. The two got off to a prickly beginning, during which Jonas didn’t say much, yet he found himself agreeing to be shown around town by Tate. With mixed feelings and alarms going off in his belly, Jonas wondered what he was in for. Discovering that Tate and his sisters were the tenants living in the apartment above his aunt and uncle’s garage gave Jonas zero room to back away. The two began building a tentative friendship as Tate introduced Jonas around the neighborhood. Jonas began to relax and to shed his thorny front.
Tate won my heart immediately. His assuredness, savvy intuitiveness and good heart shone bright. Jonas took a bit longer for me to warm up to, but he was keeping his true self buried. Once Tate helped coax the real Jonas out, it was easy to see that Jonas’ heart was as solid gold as Tate’s.
Jonas and Tate’s relationship turns sexual very quickly. It’s not for sake of titillation. The quickness of it fit perfectly in the story. Jonas and Tate fit perfectly. Jonas allowed sex to happen not because Tate was any willing guy, but because Tate was Tate. His Tate, a man Jonas was already developing a strong emotional bond with. And OK, he was 21 and being around Tate had Jonas more turned on than he’d ever been. I was cheering the fact that once Jonas realized how attracted he was to Tate – and that the feeling was mutual – he didn’t pull some huge freak out. He owned coming to terms with being gay and it was full speed ahead. Jonas was quite naïve regarding man-on-man sex, so Tate’s nurturing, patient personality was put to the test. These two were scorching in bed. On top of down and dirty hot sex and boiling chemistry, there was genuine caring and wonderful relationship development going on between the sheets.
I loved that the relationship between Jonas and Tate occurred in a steady, positive manner. Tate genuinely cared about Jonas from the get go. This was not a story about some out and proud gay guy herding a naïve youngster out of the closet and into the light, or his bed. Tate was nurturing, intuitive, sweet and totally tuned-in to Jonas’ moods and unspoken thoughts. In Tate, Jonas had found someone who truly wanted to know the real him, to listen and be non-judgmental. Jonas learned pretty quickly he could let his guard down with Tate, and be rewarded instead of decimated by doing so. Jonas blossomed not only in accepting his sexuality, but in discovering who he really was. Eventually he found the confidence to confront his father. For a few pages during a few chapters, I was biting my nails, hoping the story was not going to take one of “those” turns. Pleasantly, Jonas kicked ass.
The guys had to work their way through a lot in this story. Again, I appreciated how they tackled everything head on, as adults. No undue drama, no stomping off or hissy fits. With the help of each other, wonderful friends and family, Jonas reclaimed his life and Tate claimed the beginning of a new life – with Jonas at his side.