“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages/Word Count: 221 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Twenty-two-year-old Alessandro Silva knows that returning to tiny Perch Creek to help his foster mother was the right thing to do.
With no degree and a delinquent’s reputation, he’s lucky to have landed a job waiting tables. But not everyone is happy he’s back, and the only thing keeping his move home from being a total bust is his boss’s hot brother. Jaime Winters spent most of his life watching the world go by, first from a series of hospitals and then from behind big stacks of textbooks. Studying is easier than facing the fact that years of heart failure means he’s still a virgin at twenty-three. Until the new waiter in his sister’s diner awakens desires he’d long ago given up on. The last thing Alessandro wants is to fall for someone as fragile as Jaime. And Jaime may have a new heart, but he’s scared of what giving it to another person would mean. Their no-strings-attached, instructional approach to sex keeps emotion safely at bay, until a secret from Alessandro’s past forces them to confront their feelings in the present…
Review: Jaime has never really lived. Instead, he has shuffled from one cotton-lined existence to another, waiting for life to begin. Finally, with his new heart in place and anti-rejection meds doing their job, Jaime is not just eager, he is nearly frantic to catch up and grab life by the horns, even if it means sex without love and remaining determined not to fall for his “tutor”.
Alessandro has doggedly left behind a tattered and less than savory past, leaving the small town and his foster parents in order to make a new life for himself. But his foster father’s death brings him back home and lands him a job in the local coffee shop.
Completely aware that he may never be more than just a waiter, Alessandro fights against his heart after agreeing to introduce Jaime to the finer aspects of gay sex. While these two boys fumble about trying not to let the other see how affected they are, a dark secret from the past rears its head and threatens not only Alessandro but the lives of all those he loves, including Jaime.
In some ways it would not be incorrect to say that No Such Thing was a sweet and cleverly written “coming of age” story. After all, Jaime had lived such a sheltered life and now with Alessandro at his side, he was poised to experience a whole new world and fall in love for the very first time. However, this story by A. M. Arthur was so much more than just that. It was also a story of redemptive love and righting the wrongs we performed in the past. I say redemptive love because Alessandro wears his shame over his violent and bitter past like armor around his heart. He allows his foster roots to overshadow his self-worth and keep him locked in an aimless circle of living only a half-life, never realizing his potential. On top of that, the secret he holds keeps him immersed in guilt and produces such anger at himself for not acting more responsibly.
These two characters, both so uncertain and fragile in their own way, meet and literally explode on the page. Yes their intimate interactions are hot and steamy but it is the internal dialogue that flows through them that makes the sex so much more than a physical act. For Jaime, each new thing stabilizes his knowledge that he is gay and profoundly content being so. For Alessandro, the fact that someone needs him—wants him despite his past is incredibly liberating and fulfilling. Wrapped around these two lovely young men, is a secondary cast that are fully fleshed out and dynamic as well. I don’t think there was ever a moment when I thought to myself that characters were simply marking time in this novel—rather, they were intricately woven into the plot and integral to the story overall.
And the story—oh my. Fast paced yet slowly and carefully unfolded, the plot had me clenching my kindle at times, truly frightened that the boys I had grown to love in this story would be damaged beyond repair. It was exciting and riveting and held me captive.
No Such Thing by A.M. Arthur is storytelling at its best. This is the first time I have read this author’s work, and I can guarantee it will not be the last. I highly recommend this novel to you!