Erryn reviews ‘No Regrets (Healing Hearts Book 1)’ by Nicky James. This book was released by the author on August 13, 2017, and is 267 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Adam Gold. It was released on December 22, 2017, and is 8 hrs and 57 mins long.
Why I read this book: There was so much positive buzz about this book, I had to listen to it.
Life makes no promises, and sometimes, you draw the short straw.
Landon Johnston’s life came to a grinding halt seven months ago when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
With the encouragement of his grandmother, Landon worked his way out of his slump and tried to live life while he still could.
Deciding he didn’t want to drag anyone else down his morbid path, Landon gave up all friendships and denied himself love. It was better that way, because all he had to offer was eventual heartache and sadness.
While traveling the world, Landon meets Abel Matheson, a free-spirited, unedited, and nerve-grating man who was supposed to only be a one-night-stand.
Despite Landon’s insistence that he can’t form a relationship with his current diagnoses, Abel is persistent and will not be ignored.
Fighting against all his ingrained urges to run, Landon finds himself drawn down the road he swore he’d never take.
Intimacy grows and bonds form…
Only…Abel doesn’t know Landon is sick.
How can anyone love a man with no future?
Telling him might cause him to run, but staying silent means living a lie. A lie which will only reveal itself in time.
How many good things can I say about one book? I will try not to gush, nor will I give spoilers, but I want listeners to understand how powerful this book is.
The summary of the book makes it clear Landon has terminal cancer and time is not on his side. In her note to readers at the beginning to the book, Nicky promises this is a journey of life, not death. And she keeps that promise.
I don’t consider myself overly emotional or sentimental (although some who know me might disagree), but I’m glad I listened to some parts of the book in privacy with tissues. And even though I’ve waited twelve hours to write this review, I am crying again. Only in part because I know Landon will lose his battle with cancer. Mostly it’s because of how amazing how Abel is and how I know he will grieve when losing Landon.
That is the magic of this book – these two men are real to me. I related to them, I love them, I could see myself being friends with them. And every time Landon didn’t share his secret with Abel, I wanted to give him a good shake. His reasons were sound, but secrets have a way of coming out at the most inopportune moments.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief apply to Landon, his grandma, and, eventually, Abel. Landon is well into the journey through the stages, while the listener is taken through many of them as Abel goes through them with lightning speed.
Landon is trying to pack in as much living as he can in the time he has left. Abel appears in his life at the wrong (right?) time. After all, Landon is dying and he’s already putting his grandma through so much pain, he’s certainly not going to drag someone else down with him.
Okay, let me touch on how humorous this book is. Abel, however, is a force of nature. Undeterred by Landon’s coolness, he first persuades Landon into a one-night stand, and then pushes Landon to let him in – if only for a short time. Landon keeps insisting it has to be short, but Abel is just one of those guys. Look up persistence in the dictionary and his photo will be there.
Which, of course, is why I cheer for him. Why I grieve for him. Why I love him. He’s an abrasive Yank, admitting he has no filter, no edit button. For Landon, the staid Canadian, it is a bit like being hit by a freight train.
Confession time – I know where Petrolia is, and I used to date a great guy from Sarnia (I was MC at his wedding). I am unabashedly Canadian and love that the book is primarily located in my country.
Of course, universal healthcare is never mentioned because it is part of the Canadian fabric. Landon gets the best treatment and doesn’t have to worry about how to pay for it or deal with insurance. He is given the gift of being able to focus on living.
Abel isn’t without issues. His family – especially his father – is one of those (as are Landon’s). Having come from a loving and accepting family, I cringe at what LGBT people face. Homophobia drives me nuts.
There are other bad experiences Landon helps Abel work through. It is truly a reciprocal relationship. There are so many scenes I want to mention, but that would ruin the surprise. Abel’s goal is to bring joy to Landon, and that involves some truly creative dates.
So, for those of you who have never tried poutine, it is a must. A Canadian staple, as Abel discovers.
Adam Gold is a great narrator. He infuses these two men with joy, pain, and, most of all, LIFE. He adds inflections, chuckles, and emphasis naturally. He can be forgiven for not correctly pronouncing Scottish locations.
Finally, I took a quick peek into Nicky’s list of books, finding (much to my glee) that there are three more books in the series. Of course I hope they will come out on audio, but I’m not sure I can wait. This book has the perfect ending, but I know real life. I had a beloved family member die of this exact cancer. Canada recently lost a singer – a national treasure – to the same cruel fate. Landon’s future is certain, but Abel’s isn’t. I want him to have a happily ever after where he can treasure and honour the life he had with Landon, while finding someone to share his life with.
Did I say enough good things? Five stars just don’t seem like enough. The depth of writing, the ability to bring me right into the story… So I thank you, Nicky, for reminding me that life is short and loving is so important.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
I live in the small town of Petrolia, Ontario, Canada and I am a mother to a wonderful teenage boy (didn’t think those words could be typed together…surprise) and wife to a truly supportive and understanding husband, who thankfully doesn’t think I’m crazy.
I have always had two profound dreams in life. To fall back hundreds of years in time and live in a simpler world, not bogged down by technology and to write novels. Since only one of these was a possibility I decided to make the other come alive on paper.
I write mm romance novels that take place in fantastical medieval-type settings and love to use the challenges of the times to give my stories and characters life.