Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Briggs-King Books
“Happiness is not a goal…it is a by-product of a life well lived.”
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.
If you have read the Perspectives series by A.M. Arthur, you would be familiar with the characters of Richard Brightman and his husband, Bernard “Bear” Henson, who own the gay nightclub, Big Dick’s. They are also the fathers of Gabriel Henson, whose story was told in The World as He Sees It, but did make an appearance in all of the books. Due to popular demand, we finally get to hear Bear and Richard’s story! Sadly, a medical emergency starts the story in present day, which then takes the reader on a journey for how things began to how current day progresses.
The story is told from Bear’s point of view.
I loved this story and the characters, but then, having read the Perspectives series (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it), I already liked these characters and even commented in my review for Sound of Us that I had wanted a scene with Jake having a conversation with Bear and Richard! No sooner had I sent in that review, it was revealed by the author that this book was her secret project she had been teasing us with! Some aspects of the story were revealed in The World as He Sees It, for Gabriel’s childhood from his point of view. However, it is a different emotional punch to read about those same events from a father’s point of view because there is a balance Bear is trying to maintain between his family life and his love life. Which leads to the one spoiler I would give readers, that there is cheating in this story, and while it is not usually something I like to read about, I was able to read it since I already knew about it from the other books, this story just gave more background to why it happened the way it did. The part it played in this story, manages to bring to light things such as spousal abuse not always being what you assume and such a weight that Bear chose to carry, for so many years to try doing what he thought was right.
As usual with this author’s books, I love the characters, I love that they are not perfect, that they know and own that about themselves. Perhaps because of or in spite of their perceived flaws, they also develop their strengths which seems to bring them to a special love story. And all of those elements combine to create a story with a balance of drama, friendship, love, heart and the drama of life not always going as you would like or expect. There are some sex scenes, but none are overly graphic as the emotional relationship between the characters is the primary part of this journey. As a fan of A.M. Arthur, I am so happy we got Bear and Richard’s story and it is most definitely on my favorites of 2017 list!