J. P. Barnaby
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Release Date
March 2014
Book 2 of Survivor
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

It's been nearly five years since Aaron woke up in the hospital so broken, he couldn't stand the sight of his own face. The flashbacks no longer dominate his life, but he's still unable to find intimacy with his lover, Spencer Thomas. With time, patience, and the support of his family, his therapist, and his loving partner, Aaron has figured out how to live again. The problem is, Spencer hasn't. His life has been on hold as he waits for the day he and Aaron can have a normal relationship. Hoping to move things forward for them both, he takes a job as a programmer in downtown Chicago, leaving Aaron alone.

Reeling in the wake of Spencer's absence, Aaron receives another shock when his attackers are caught.

Now, he must testify and verbalize his worst nightmare. Publicly reliving his trauma without Spencer at his side destroys his precarious control. But he finds someone who can understand and empathize in Jordan, who watched his brother cut down in a school shooting. With Spencer gone and the DA knocking at his door, Aaron seeks solace in Jordan, and Spencer will have to risk everything to hold on to Aaron's love.

Book Review by Pat Henshaw (author,reviewer)
Apr 08, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
157 people found the following review helpful
Is it possible for a young man with emotional and physical scars and his deaf boyfriend to conquer their fears and make a productive life for themselves? Only with a lot of hard work and strength of will, J.P. Barnaby assures readers.

In AARON, the author illustrated how a traumatized boy can come part way out of his reclusive shell with the help of a loving and loyal friend. Five years after Aaron's attack and three years after Spencer befriends him, this sequel to AARON follows the young men as their lives are changing, both as a couple and individually.

As Spencer graduates from junior college and sells the software program he and Aaron have worked on together, Spencer agrees to move an hour away to Chicago and head up a team to launch the software for public use. This is a huge step for a guy born deaf who never thought he'd be able to move away from his psychologist father and live alone.

But Aaron, who was homeschooled after the attack that killed his friend Juliette and left him nearly dead with a slit throat, still has a long way to go to graduate. He is devastated that Spencer would even think about leaving him, much less actually move.

Just as Aaron's trying to get his head around the fact that the rock on whom he depends is moving, he learns the men who had assaulted him and Juliet have been caught. Now Aaron has to find the courage to testify against them, which means he has to bare his physical and mental scars to a judge and jury.

Again, Aaron is a memorable, courageous young man who after years of therapy has learned some effective coping mechanisms when panic overcomes him. This isn't to say his life is easy or by any means normal, but it does mean he steps to the brink less and less frequently. It also means when he breaks down now, he doesn't always need to rely on others to bring him back to sanity.

Aaron is also taking proactive steps to help himself survive the times he can't be with Spencer. Aaron makes an online friend at a PTSD chat group and eventually meets his friend face-to-face. Doing so is an enormous step for Aaron.

Spencer too grows and flourishes at his job in Chicago, even going so far as letting the colleagues in his team take him to a gay nightclub. He learns that while life outside his father's house will be difficult at times, it won't be impossible. He also realizes that when Aaron is ready, they will be able to move in together and be happy.

For those of us who came to love both Spencer and Aaron in the first book, the sequel makes them even more loveable for their remarkable courage and tenacity in working through their problems. Neither is perfect and sometimes they make unproductive decisions, but neither gives up on the other nor on himself.

Both AARON and SPENCER are brutal books, not for the squeamish. What differentiates them, however, is that while AARON offered a glimmer of hope, SPENCER widens that glimmer into a shining ray. While Aaron will never be whole and Spencer will never hear, both men have a chance to lead productive lives out in the open, not hiding or cowering behind their parents.
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