Stand by You (Belonging #3) by A.M. Arthur

StandByYouThree months after his rescue from an abusive boyfriend, twenty-two-year-old Romy Myers has landed his first legitimate job bussing, tables at his friend’s new coffee shop. The job has brought him some stability after years of abuse have left him feeling damaged and broken. He’s working hard on his panic and social anxiety, and those things are often tempered by the big, burly presence of Brendan Walker.

From the moment ex-football player Brendan helped rescue Romy from his ex’s abuse, he’s wanted to protect him. And he does, from a distance, with joking text messages, a new gym routine to toughen him up and a genuine friendship. So far it’s been easy but Brendan’s feelings aren’t just friendly anymore…

When an argument spirals out of control, a hot and heavy make-out session causes Romy’s friendship with supposedly straight Brendan to reach a new level. The last thing Romy wants is to fall for another guy who could potentially shatter him, but Brendan also wakes up a part of him he thought had been destroyed by violence, his heart.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Yep, another series that I jumped into head first without reading the first two books. This is one that I will back-track to be sure. Not just because I want the set-up and to figure out what I missed, but because I love all these guys and really want to get to know them better. *sigh* Honestly, other than a little bit of set-up and getting emotionally attached to the supporting cast of characters, this could almost be a stand alone. Almost….

What Romy went through before his story unfolds in Stand by You was horrific. His ex-boyfriend’s abuse was bad, but his back story was heart breaking and A.M. Arthur gave it to us in small bits and pieces. That’s a good thing because I don’t think I could have taken it all at once. Readers got the story as Brendan did and he didn’t get it until Romy was ready to trust him with it and he was strong enough to recount it. Yeah, it was that bad.

Brendan was the strong, silent type. He also had a big heart and a need to protect those he cared about. He also reached out to people in the community that needed a helping hand. The closer he got to Romy and the more of his back story was revealed, the more I liked him.

The romance between these two was sweet. Brendan had to come to terms with who he really was and Romy had to come to terms with everything. There were some ups and downs and both of them made some mistakes along the way, but their relationship grew from friendship to something a lot stronger.

There were characters that I hated and some that I really loved. One of them was Brendan’s mom. I admired her for her strength and her beliefs. I wasn’t sure at first, but by the end of the story she was the one who had me in tears.

As for the rest of the characters in this group of friends? No Such Thing and Maybe This Time, the first two books in the Belonging series,  have already made it to my TBR list.