MtSnow and Dana review Their Life As They Live It (Perspectives #4) by A.M. Arthur. (Published by Briggs-King Books, May 8, 2017. 239 pages) A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.
“Happiness is not a goal…it is a by-product of a life well lived.”
Bernard “Bear” Henson is a blessed man. He is happily married to the love of his life, he co-owns a successful business, and his grown son is desperately in love with a wonderful partner. But Bear knows all too well how precarious that happiness is, so he lives every day with love in his heart and gratitude for everything he has—especially his husband Richard Brightman. Richard has been HIV-positive for thirty years and every new day is a gift.
When Richard becomes unexpectedly ill and is rushed to the hospital, Bear braces for his beautifully constructed life to come crashing down. A hard-won life full of ups and downs, illnesses and setbacks, love and anger, and a lot of regret for how certain things went down. Certain things involving Bear’s alcoholic ex-wife Debbie and the start of Bear’s relationship with Richard. But the past can’t be changed, only remembered and studied.
As Richard fights for his life, Bear reflects on the last thirty years of their entwined lives. College days, his shotgun wedding to Debbie, his unexpected feelings for Richard, and the proudest moment of Bear’s life: the birth of his son Gabriel. Bear’s life with Richard is woven with love, heartache, regret, joy, and everything else in between. They’ve overcome every obstacle that’s come their way, and they’ll overcome this new illness, too. Period. Bear simply isn’t ready to live his life without Richard in it.
Note: This is the fourth book in my Perspectives series, and while it can be read as a standalone, readers will have a much richer concept of these characters if you’ve at least read book two, The World As He Sees It. Warnings for spousal abuse (not between the two heroes) and cheating.
MtSnow – I always kind of wondered about Gabriel’s dads, Richard and Bear, club owners of ‘Big Dick’s’ nightclub, as they seemed such a loving couple, and were such a big part of Gabe’s life. When the author gave us the opportunity to review their story, I snatched it right up. And I’m so happy I did.
Bear and Richard. Debbie. Gabriel and Tristan. So many highs and lows, growth, sadness, anger and sacrifice. And love. Lots and lots of love.
It was so good to revisit this little universe A.m. Arthur created with Perspectives #4. It is usually hard for me to deal with books that deal with HIV status, cheating, and spousal abuse, since those are typically hot topics for me that I tend to avoid.
But the author wrote this with a gentle hand, making me not even aware these issues were unfolding right in front of me. She handles the subject matter so well, that even though there are teaching moments, it wasn’t preachy, and I more clearly was able to understand how scenarios like these could happen in real life, in real relationships.
There were times I was real angry with Debbie, but I never came to hate her, more I felt sorry for her. I wished that Richard and Bear had more involved, supportive parents, but also saw that as a side result of the parental expectations as well as religious norms of the times. It was downright amazing to me how Richard and Bear were so supportive and loving to each other, without having a proper example from their own sets of parents to learn from.
And seeing Bear go through his childhood relationship with his family, his college years with having Debbie as his steady girlfriend, and seeing his affection and protectiveness grow towards Richard, well, all I can say is he has such a large, kind heart.
That same heart is what made it so easy to love and feel for Gabriel as we see him grow through conception (no, no messy girl-bits -lol), childhood, then young adulthood. As a child, he always was protective of his mom, but he was also so grown up at a young age as many children of alcoholics end up being, with an unhealthy level of guilt, and feeling responsible for the alcoholic adult’s behaviors. We also saw also how much he loved Richard and Bear and how much they loved him in return. He has such a generous kind heart that is so obviously inherited from Bear. It was like an episode of ‘And Now, The Rest of the Story…’.
Thru all the flashbacks, past and present time scares in the hospital, and the happy surprise ending, I feel this author gave me as a reader a gift, letting me revisit some well-loved characters, and get to know them more in depth, with a feeling of ‘awww’ by the final page.
Highly recommended to all! This author is one of my go-to ‘comfort read’ authors, and ‘Their Life As They Live It’ does not in any way disappoint.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 Stars
Dana – As side characters in The World As He Sees It, I admired Bear and Richard for their unconditional love and support of their son Gabriel. I said “aww” over their long lasting relationship and their love for each other. Through all the warm and fuzzy feelings they gave me, I knew their lives hadn’t always been easy between Bear’s ex wife and Richard’s HIV positive status, but I wasn’t really prepared for how emotional their journey would make me.
The story starts with Richard falling ill in the present, but their story is told through memories and flashbacks from Bear. From when they met as college roommates, through Richard’s diagnosis, Gabriel being born, to the present. I had no idea how much hell Bear faced with his ex. It really is a case of Gabriel’s mom behaving abhorrently. Even though Bear was married, I didn’t want him to stick to his vows with her. It was an instance where cheating would totally be okay with me. I rooted for these two men to be together no matter the circumstances because their love was just so strong it created a feeling of love for them in me.
This story could have gone two ways, and I was a bit fearful of what would happen for Bear and Richard. The story really is a testament to their love for one another, and their level of commitment. I am so glad the author let them have their story. It was so nice to see a couple who have been keeping their relationship alive for so many years through happiness, fear, and sadness. I can’t recommend this book or the series enough. If you haven’t read it yet you are missing out.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) and “The Young Riders” with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories.
An avid reader of het romance, her first foray into reading published m/m romance (slash fanfic doesn’t count) is thanks to a Dear Author review of K.A. Mitchell’s CHASING SMOKE. After devouring K.A.’s existing backlist, she dove headfirst into other authors. While she prefers contemporary, she’ll occasionally sample an historical or SFF m/m romance.
A.M. wrote her first m/m stories in the guise of Kish fanfic (the Kyle/Fish romance from cancelled soap opera “One Life to Live.” As her stories were met with more and more positive feedback, A.M. was inspired to try her hand at creating original m/m romance. And the rest is history.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.