Review: A.M. Arthur – Uniquely Us (Us #3)

Author: A.M. Arthur
Reviewer: Natalie
Publisher: Briggs-King Books
Genre: MM Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★☆ 


Summary: Taro Ichikawa needs his weekly routines. Working from home as a programmer allows him to work around his constant struggle with anxiety and OCD—everything from exact meal times to his weekly dinner dates with his best friend Cris Sable. Openly demisexual, he’s comfortable knowing he’s different from most, and he’s content being single—until he breaks routine to attend Cris’s birthday party and makes an unexpected new friend.

Dell Greenwood moved in with his uncle eighteen months ago to turn his life around, and after a serious setback last fall, he’s finally healthy and heading in the right direction. His full-time job as a porn videographer keeps him busy, so he doesn’t have to think about the fact that while he seriously dated one man last year, he’s not attracted to…well, anyone. It’s easy to assume that his traumatic past is to blame for his lack of interest in dating, but when he meets and gets to know Taro Ichikawa, Dell wonders if there’s a different reason.

Befriending someone mired in strict routines isn’t easy, but Dell is stubborn when he wants something, and being patient with Taro is easy. From emails to tentative lunch dates, what begins as a simple friendship slowly deepens into something much stronger—and completely unexpected. But Dell knows that for him to be all-in with Taro, he not only needs to come to terms with his sexuality, but he also has to be honest with himself and his family about the absolute worst moment of his life.

Review: One of the best things about reading MM, especially when it comes to favorite authors like A.M. Arthur, is how much I discover and learn, far beyond just simple romance stories. Several subjects are addressed in this volume, since Taro has OCD and anxiety, and Dell is a recovering addict, rejected by his religious family and has a transplanted kidney. Taro and Dell are coping fairly well with their individual issues, but one thing Dell hasn’t reconciled is his sexuality. Learning that Taro is demi-sexual and identifying with much of the information about the asexual spectrum, he embarks on a friendship with Taro, both slowly learning to expand their boundaries and understanding of themselves and each other. There are many email and Skype sessions, then a careful progression to dating, and sharing building emotions.

This isn’t quite as angst-filled as some of the author’s stories have been, although there’s moderate drama at points in the book. I think all subjects were handled quite respectfully in the narrative but it did draw out the length. It runs concurrently with books 1 and 2 of this series, so I’d recommend reading those first. It’s also a spin-off from the Perspectives series and a few of those characters appear at times. I did like the story very much, apart from wishing it moved forward more quickly, but I suppose there was a lot of elapsed time to cover. I also disagreed with how a few situations with Dell were handled, as he did not seem to have any kind of sobriety support or counseling. It bothered me as a missing detail that would seem to be obvious or at least suggested by someone, at some point. Still, I would recommend it for the informed exploration of part of the asexual experience, since asexuality is still often disregarded or misunderstood. Not that I can fully grasp all the nuances yet myself, but this greatly improved my understanding. I’d also recommend it as a very sweet, sexy romance with less-than-common subjects and a very fresh trope.

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