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  • An uplifting friends to lovers romance!

    Say It Right is the second story in A.M. Arthur's All Saints series, all about the staff who work at a teen LGBT shelter. Some of them, including the hero of this book, Marc, have personal experience with the difficulties encountered by many teens when they come out to their family. With backgrounds of addiction and dependency, working the streets and surviving day to day, most of the teens who come through the shelter and the adults who work there have had their share of hardships. Yet the author manages to take this background and still create an uplifting story with a sexy and heartwarming friends to lovers romance. When Marc came out to his family, they kicked him out. Not only did he lose them, but he had to leave his best friend Anthony, an aspiring soccer star with whom he'd been friends since they were young boys. Marc's experience on the street was grim, but with the help of a former priest Father Davis, who worked as a drug and alcohol counsellor, he got clean and sober. Father Davis helped him get an electrician apprenticeship, which led to other home repair skills and odd jobs, and he was able to give back by getting a job with All Saints House. When Anthony's sister comes to Marc for help, Marc is shocked to find out that after he was gone Anthony spiralled into depression and addiction himself. With a heavy heart, Marc is able to find Anthony and get him off the street. Bringing him home to his house isn't the best plan, but it's the only one he has for the man who used to be his best friend. But Marc has an ultimatum for Anthony - he's got to get clean or get out. He can't afford to backslide into his own addiction problems. He can help Anthony, but it will take a long time for him to trust him. As Anthony pulls himself out of the mire, he finds things to look forward to. Marc is part of a supportive community, and they are willing to help Anthony too. As Anthony's life improves, he is able to reveal the truth to Marc - that he is bisexual and had feelings for Marc in high school. And Marc has his own truth - that he'd secretly been in love with Anthony in high school too. Can these two young men find healing and hope with each other? I'd read the first of the series and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to Marc's story, having been introduced to him as a secondary character in Come What May. In this story we get a fuller picture of the difficulties he's faced and how far he's come with the help of friends, especially Father Davis who saw beneath the addiction to the strong and capable man underneath. It's admirable that Marc is willing to work at All Saints House after his own personal experiences, but it's his way of paying it forward. Having Anthony around again is both a blessing and a curse. The man Anthony is now is not the boy Marc once knew. And Marc can't afford to ruin all the hard work he's done for his own sobriety. But as Anthony gets over the initial withdrawal and Marc can see the effort he is putting in to stay clean, the other thoughts come back. The ones about the attraction he had towards Anthony as a teen. When Anthony starts to act and appear more like the person Marc knew, and confesses his bisexuality, it's easier to think of starting a relationship with him. But Marc is smart. He sets a time limit of 6 months for Anthony to stay clean before they'll go on their first official 'date'. The result is a slow burn romance between the two as they share their thoughts, feelings and experiences. They become intimate but as friends, not as lovers. It doesn't mean there aren't a few slip ups here and there, but the wait is definitely worth it. There are some steamy scenes between them as Anthony's life is finally moving in the right direction and Marc can admit to himself that a future with Anthony could be in the cards. I really enjoyed seeing how Marc and Anthony coped with the challenges of rebuilding their friendship and a relationship. The story is told from both points of view and it was heartening to see Anthony take control of his life once again. As well, the circle of friends and support that surround Marc and Anthony add some lighthearted and amusing scenes. The situations come across as very realistic and despite the serious topics, I didn't find the story depressing or melancholy. Rather, it's a testament to human strength and compassion as these two longtime friends find each other again, and start to build a future together.

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  • Warning: Contains Several Trigger Topics

    ⭐ ⭐ Provided by NetGalley in Exchange for an Honest Review ⭐ ⭐ Judging a Book by it's Cover: Two guys in a fun, friendly embrace, fully clothed. Pink/Purple wash seems to coat the cover. Guy in back has scary, strange arm conformations (bad photoshop job maybe?). Read and really liked book one, so the synopsis had no impact on my decision to read this book. Looking Deeper: I'm so sad... I love this author and loved the first book in the series, but this one did not meet the build-up my brain hoped it would. Do not mistake me, A.M. Arthur wrote a great book with complex characters, and once more managed to capture the soul-deep struggles of life that is less than ideal or perfect. However, there are many darker subject matters that come into play in this particular book and those topics really cast some deep shadows onto Marc and Anthony (Note: Topic could also be considered triggers, dealing with homelessness, prostitution, rape, drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, detoxing and addiction recovery, and testing positive for HIV - while not necessarily containing scenes of all of the aforementioned topics, all are addressed or implied). Marcos (Marc) is the co-founder of the All Saints shelter. Anthony was his best friend growing up. They lost contact eight years ago when Marcos was kicked out of his house for being gay. Anthony (Tone) began a slow downward spiral after that without truly and fully understanding why. It's not until Tone's sister shows up at Marc's door begging for help that the two's paths cross once again. The bond they shared as youth is all that holds these two men together, but they are virtually strangers to one another currently, have dark pasts, trust issues and daily struggles. They are complex characters, prone to human error, but there's a minuscule ember still heated enough to combust if only they'd trust in one another enough... it's a slow, almost painfully so, process. Overall, Marc and Tone felt more like friends with benefits than a romantically involved couple. The secondary characters are a good blend of old and new. Allowing it to be able to stand on it's own, but is more enjoyable if read in order. Cast interaction is believable, dialogue felt natural. The plot moved along smoothly and at a good pace, but lacked the depth and dynamics I'm used to from this author. The shy busboy from Half-Dozen has my curiosity piqued. There were a handful of minor conflicts, almost all of which were resolved in various fashions. I'd like to have seen the reporting culprit found out and see the shelter no longer subjected to the random inspections. Predictability was low. There were no fun surprises. The epilogue wraps most ends up, other than identifying the person or persons responsible for reporting All Saints regularly, but that may be a continuing story line for the next book. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rating: [R] ~ Score: 4.05 ~ Stars: 4 -------------------------------------------------------------------------

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