Friday, June 2, 2017

Their Life as They Live It by A.M. Arthur

“Happiness is not a goal… it is a by-product of a life well lived.”
--Eleanor Roosevelt

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.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 4
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I absolutely loved getting a deeper look into Bear and Richard's journey. The story jumps from present day back to the 1980s, when he met Richard in college. The flashbacks progressively move forward in time showing what happened in the past to get them to the point they are now. It was interesting to see the past with Debbie and how their story played out. It was everything I needed it to be. It definitely was an emotional ride.

I highly recommend this read and series. Worth the read. I hope there is somehow more to this series. I need more of these guys!

This book is the fourth in the series and it deals with the story of Gabriel's dads (his story was told in book two) and spans the last thirty years. I would recommend that you read them in order, so that you understand Gabe and Tris's story, but it would read as a standalone, if you wanted to read something dealing with their particular circumstances.

We have met Bear and Richard before, as they run the gay club that has been in previous books, and as Gabriel's dads. Now we get to learn how these two men found each other and how they have 30 years of history. The story skips backwards and forwards, but it is done clearly enough and in context that it does not break the flow of the story. It makes for difficult reading in places, as Debbie is not an easy character to like, and yet she features large. Her impact on the story was difficult to believe at times, as with repeated court time, I find it difficult to believe that she would ever be given the chance to spend time alone with her son – and thus some issues would not have arisen. Obviously, the fact that story covers a long period of time, the concentration of examples of bad behaviour is hard to take.

Raising the issue of life with HIV, and the impact on family and expectations is done sympathetically and I found it believable and encouraging. There was so much in this book, that I think I will probably reread it sometime soon.

This is not an easy read, and yet it is a fulfilling book overall. Any two people who are happy to be together for so long deserve respect; these two have been through more than most to have been able to spend that time together.

I was really excited to read this book, I loved Bear and Richard in the other books that they have been in. This book wasn't what I was expecting. This book was kind of depressing in some ways. Poor Gabe, that kid went through some stuff. I did like seeing how Bear and Richard got together and how their relationship progressed and grew. I guess I was hoping for more, and I am not even sure what that entails, but I just felt like I wanted more, maybe more happiness than sadness because there was so much sadness? The book did end on a happy note and I can't wait to see what happens next with Bear and Richard and then Gabe and Tristan.

4.5 emotional stars

To be honest, I've read the majority of A.M. Arthur's novels. After reading the last one (for me), I decided we needed to take a break. After seeing this novel, a continuation in a series I adored, I decided to read it, even though I was more than apprehensive. My trust in the author is tenuous at best due to over-the-top emotional extortion from layers upon layers of traumas subjected on the characters, not necessarily thoroughly explored. So, I tried to start Their Life as They Live It with an open mind devoid of a negative slant.

Bear and Richard are Gabriel's dads. A medical scare for Richard has Gabriel's biological father thinking back to how it all began in the 1980s. All the way back to rooming together in a dorm at college, where Bear and Richard met.

The story unfolds in the present, showing what's happening to Gabriel and Tristan since their book, and in the past before Gabriel was born. The story arcs nearly 30 years, from Bear's narration. The struggles with Debbie and how it affected not only Bear and Richard, but impacting Gabriel the most.

The spotlight on HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s and beyond was written with compassion, empathy, and research, and it lent a realistic bent to the storyline. The portrayal of domestic abuse was also written realistically. No matter the gender, to put your hands on anyone in violence is abuse. The layers of emotional, mental, verbal, and sexual abuse were highly accurate, as was the portrayal the strain an alcoholic puts on a family. While I do believe half of what occurred with social services and the judge was realistic for the era – beyond that was emotional extortion by the author, taking away the validity and the emotional punch. Too much, creating a numbing effect. "Here we go again... and again... and again... and yet again."

With the format this novel was written in – a nonlinear fashion – where it was scenes scattered throughout 30 years, every scene was of a negative connotation, with a few sexual in nature. So this format highlighted how much this author puts the characters through to reach that coveted happily ever after.

As I said, my trust in the author was tenuous, so I was fearful of what would happen in the present while experiencing some of the usual in the past. The amount of car accidents, broken bones, endangering the welfare of a minor, and many times CPS and the police were called in, I found it hard to believe. Even back in the 1990s and early 2000s. Yes, there are women just like Debbie – in fact, I know some. What I was confused about was later on, when Gabriel was in his mid-teens, how there were still 'accidents' (a drunk Debbie wrecking her boyfriend's car while Gabriel was in it) occurring when Debbie no longer had any parental ties to their son. The last accident, just quickly added in a retelling was beyond overkill (which is my comment on not trusting the author). If anything, this showed Bear and Richard in a poor light for allowing Gabriel any contact with his mother after he'd nearly died several times over. Yes, I'm pleased they felt the need for Gabriel to still be in contact with his mother, yet his 'life' was at risk – that is the difference. While he was a teen, clearly he wasn't of a sound mind to make such a mature decision when his life was on the line. So this erased how well Bear and Richard took care of their son. Mother or not, a toxic person who is no longer legally tied to their son, shouldn't have been allowed access. So I lost respect for both men because the author had to add another layer and another layer on a book that was bursting with tragedy.

I guess, no matter how much I enjoy the stories, I don't enjoy seeing strong characters forced to be an eternal victim by their creator (author).

I highly recommend to fans of the Perspectives series and of A.M. Arthur. Yes, I will continue to read the author, even with the issues I've stated above. I try to keep an open mind, as some of the author's books/series are on my favorite's list. Their Life as They Live It would be in the favorite category.

Also Available in the Perspectives Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

For reviews & more info, check out our The Truth as He Knows It post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

For reviews & more info, check out our The World as He Sees It post.

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

For reviews & more info, check out our The Heart as He Sees It post.

No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and "bromance" (and "The Young Riders") with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she's an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Connect with A.M.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Their Life as They Live It (Perspectives #4) by A.M. Arthur to read and review.

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