Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Briggs King Books
Genre: MM Romance
Still firmly in the closet at the age of thirty, Ethaniel Shockley is content leading a solitary—if lonely—life working on a construction crew with fellow military vets. After a tragic worksite accident leaves two of his friends dead, Ethaniel returns to his family home to recuperate from a spiral leg fracture and severe Post Concussive Syndrome. He may be lucky to be alive, but he hates the independence he’s lost.
Matthew “Angel” Garrett has worked at Shockley Stables for three years, content to muck stalls and polish saddles, and to be as unnoticeable as possible. Except for weekly church outings, he avoids going into town so he doesn’t see The Look. The Look that says “I know you went to prison for killing a man.”
A chance conversation with Ethaniel gives Angel hope that maybe he can have a friendship with the gorgeous Shockley sibling he’s crushed on for years. But the more time they spend indulging in their shared love of music, the clearer it becomes that they both want more. Ethaniel sees a kindred spirit in Angel, whose soul is just as fractured from his time in prison as Ethaniel’s is from war. But Angel has another, deeper secret that haunts him—one he’s positive will destroy this new song with Ethaniel before it’s even written
Ethan is an Army veteran who survived Afghanistan and is now recovering from surviving a roof cave in, recuperating at his family farm. He is not sure why he survived war or why he survived a work accident, although his post concussive symptoms keep him in his own day to day battle. Angel (real name is Matthew) is a quiet ex-con working at the Shockley farm and while the details of his time in prison and the repercussions of that time have been shared with his employers (Ethan’s parents) and the ranch manager, he keeps to himself aside from going to church each Sunday and while that makes for a lonely life, he also feels it keeps him from getting hurt. A chance encounter and conversation between the two men
The story is told from both Ethan and Angel’s point of view.
I have been a fan of A.M. Arthur’s writing since I first read Cost of Repairs, those first few books made this an auto-buy author for me and I feel as though something is wrong if I don’t have a preorder in my Kindle queue or a new book to read! For me, her books are like your favorite treat, you look forward to it, can hardly wait for it, then devour it when you get it! And this one was no different for me.
I love that her characters always have SO much going on for them, in life as well as in their head, beyond the surface that is quite often, attractive. Saying the characters are damaged is not really fair, they just seem very real to me, and they have actual struggles to overcome, some they cannot and some they need to ask for help.
Fractured Hymns is no different, Ethan is not a horse lover, yet his family have a horse farm, he left home to be in the Army then moved to Philadelphia to work with a roofing company. Sadly, the book opens with an introduction as to how he ends up back at the family farm, to recover from injuries. In addition to a broken leg, he has post concussive disorder, which means he gets headaches, some foods that were once favorites now churn his stomach and his diet has to be very bland for him to get any nutrition! Does he have bitter and resentful moments? Oh yeah, and really, I can understand how that could happen, if focused on, he has lost a lot of the freedoms he got when he left home. He also has a secret from most of his family, the fact he is gay, although he has shared that with his Mom. Mom, whose first name is Ruth, is an amazing character in her own right.
Angel went to jail for manslaughter, a lot is not known about the case, so he gets judged a lot, definitely by Ethan’s older brothers who both work on the farm. He likes his routine, he likes the farm, the Shockley parents and joining Ruth for church each Sunday, which is where they met. He is a gentle soul, which makes you wonder how he could have killed anyone, and when you learn the details, your heart melts for him even more.
As with most of my favorite books, this one was an emotional roller coaster and yes, you may need tissues, but it is so worth the ride! If you like dramas with a lot of heart, some angst and sometimes challenging details, as well as a beautiful romance, I believe you will enjoy this book – and I highly recommend anything else written by A.M. Arthur too! This one is already on my favorites list for 2016!