Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
This is a tough story for me to review as it’s very good but loaded with emotional turmoil, and angst, which is one of my least favorite themes. Plus, one of the MCs was so emotionally damaged as a teen that it’s affected his adult behavior, and he’s a difficult character to like.
When they were teens, Roman and Leo were exploring their sexuality as they fell in love. Neither had what could be termed a good home life: Leo’s wealthy parents were emotionally absent, but Roman’s family was worse: consisting of an older brother and a father, both of whom worked outside the law and neither of whom tolerated most of Roman’s behavior. When his brother told his father he saw Roman and Leo holding hands, Roman was beaten so severely he nearly died. From that moment on, he knew he’d never again see Leo, nor would he ever again think of anyone other than a woman sexually. To seal the deal, when Leo kept bugging Roman to see him again, Roman finally agreed and then punched Leo’s lights out and told him to stay away.
After surviving another year of high school alone, Leo, who could well have afforded college, chose to leave home to become his own man. As the story opens, he’s been living in the LA area, a footloose gay man who tends bar and takes men home pretty much every night. Roman, on the other hand, did everything in his power to shake his past and put himself through college after his father was killed and his brother was imprisoned. Now successful and wealthy, he lives life on his own terms with his ex-girlfriend as his bestie who drags him out once in a while to get him away from his boring work existence.
Speaking of his bestie, Amy, I was pleased that the author gave her a nice personality. It was quite refreshing to have a female character like her in a story, instead of the tried-and-true nasty ex we so often see. So thank you, Ms. Hart.
On one of these excursions where Amy drags him out, Roman spots Leo from a distance serving bar at an outdoor club. Though he didn’t stop to speak to him then, Roman can’t stay away and comes back another night, at first just to talk. But eventually, the two manage to find their way to a truce, then a friendship, then a renewed relationship—once Roman gets past that haunting voice in his head that tells him it’s wrong to be a homosexual. But does he really leave that voice behind? That’s the crux of the story.
I generally don’t care for stories told in mixed present tense and flashbacks, but thankfully, the author only uses this to fill readers in on their teen years and it’s not overdone. One of the things that bothered me throughout the story though was Roman’s driven behavior—his OTT need to be close to Leo as soon as they agreed to date each other again. It was almost smother-love as Roman sought to stay with Leo and wrap them up in a cocoon—over and over again. His behavior was odd to say the least, and though Leo notices and realizes something is off, he can’t quite pinpoint what it is, so he does nothing. I liked Leo’s character, but even he came across as needy—in a different way from Roman—and neither was functioning at an age-appropriate maturity level.
When the perfect storm of circumstances comes to a head, Roman’s house of cards collapses and his behaviors are finally explained, and fortunately, treatment is available. Once everything was spelled out, it all made sense, but while I was reading I found Roman’s character off-putting. So overall, though I recognize that he was the way he was so the story could be told the way it was intended; nevertheless, I didn’t care for him.
I have no doubt that those who love a story with a high degree of angst and emotional pain, or lovers reunited, will enjoy this story. It’s emotional, painful, and heartbreaking, but has a positive outcome and ends with hope for the future.
Cover art by X-Potion Designs is done in black and white and depicts one young man lying on this back with his arms above his head and another leaning over him. Both appear to be naked. The cover represents the elements of the story, however, I am not a fan of black-and-white covers. They generally do not grab my attention and aren’t memorable.
Sales Links: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 204 pages
Published March 27th 2018 by Riley Hart
Original TitleHis Truth