In Safe Arms by Ann Grech :: Review :: Exclusive ::
Title: In Safe Arms
Series: My Truth #2
Author: Ann Grech
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Published: 21 September
Cover Design: Soxsational Cover Art
Length: 100,000 Words
Keywords : MM, Romance, LGBT, Contemporary, Friends to lovers, Slow burn, Healing, Interracial
Add To: Goodreads
Warnings: violence, rape
When a damaged man stumbles on a second chance, it’s all too easy to turn and run. It takes a determined photographer to convince him risk is worth it all.
People deserve a second chance, right? How about a third or fourth?
But what if I can’t even admit to myself who I am? I was truthful once before. I came out to one other person, and he left me broken and scarred. He destroyed the boy I was. I don’t even use the same name anymore; I go by Trent now. But I survived the streets. I got lucky and I made something of myself. I’m happy, sort of.
It’s Angelo who lights up my life. He’s my world. My rock and my family. He’s always there for me. But I keep hurting him. I say stupid things, and I always keep him at a distance. Still, he knows me better than anyone.
And I want him. But I can’t let myself go there. Not again.
I’ve lived in denial for so long and it’s killing me. In my weakest moments, I reach for Angelo and when he slips into my arms, I can breathe. He’s my solace. Selflessly, he’s there and he never expects anything in return. No judgment, not even an explanation. Having him in my arms is everything, and it’s getting harder to push him away. I’m not sure I want to anymore.
He doesn’t date, but he deserves to be loved. Cherished. Then he drops a bombshell—he’s found The One. I wish he’d fallen for me. I need that second chance to tell him. I need to risk it all because in his arms, I’m safe. I’m me.
* Review *
This book tears your heart apart. Poor Trent thought he was safe telling his godfather he was gay. But he was oh so very wrong.
His godfather spins a lie to Trent’s parents, who expect him to apologies to Nick. Trent feels unable to tell his parents what Nick has done, he knows how close his father and nick are. They wouldn’t believe him.
He feels the only thing he can do is disappear; He can never be near Nick again.
We follow Trent as he tries to build his life from the trashy cheap motel and sleeping rough. He believes he brought everything on himself and that he can not be gay, he was so stupid even mentioning it.
The first chapters are so dark and emotional, the author has done an excellent job describing the gritty life of rough sleeping.
Ten years later Trent has managed to turn his life around and is a paramedic and things are looking up. But the shadows of his past haunt him, especially his denial of his sexuality, which he continues to hide with growing homophobic behavior.
Then he meets Angelo and they instantly becomes friends, very good friends.
Angelo’s Comes from a loving family and has had a happy and loving childhood. He soon starts having strong feelings for Trent and gets mixed signals from him. Sometimes Algelo think Trent feels the same and then Trent goes cold and pulls back.
The second half of the story takes us on a journey of discovery and acceptance for Trent, and with Angelo’s patients and love.
The story is heart rendering at times, but there is so much love and hope. The only thing I would have liked to be in the story is, I think it was a shame that we skipped the ten years from Trent being homeless to when he meets Angelo. I have not read the previous books in the series, so maybe’s it has already been covered in another book.
I really felt for Trent as he dealt with his sexuality, even when he was homophobic, the author showed that he regretted his actions. And Angelo and his open and accepting family are how we all should live.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
In Safe Arms is my tenth novel – hard to fathom I’ve written over half a million words in stories so far. Set in Queenstown, it’s a story about redemption and healing. On the face of it, Trent is the stand-offish, arrogant bad boy, but he’s far deeper than that. He’s suffered far more than he deserved. His coming out story is more of a nightmare than a happy ending. It has a snowball effect, and Trent suffered a fate that far too many LGBT kids experience.
Angelo met him a decade later. He saw something in Trent right from the beginning. Angelo’s strong and patient, the kind of friend Trent deserves. But Trent’s got a long way to go before he understands that he’s a survivor, and he’s stronger than he realizes. With Angelo’s help though, he sees himself again – the real him.
Their story is an incredibly special one to me. Both Trent and Angelo spoke to me right away. I adored their quirks, and most of all their friendship. It wasn’t an easy story to write though. Trent fought me every step of the way. He had an idea of exactly how things were supposed to go. And it wasn’t the way I thought. Despite how stubborn he is, Angelo never gave up on Trent. He never let Trent down. And with Angelo by his side, Trent began to heal. Their connection, their friendship which persisted against all the odds, was my favorite part of their story.
So, what are the ten things you absolutely need to know about In Safe Arms:
1. The last time I went to Queenstown, I copped a snowball to the face from my then three year old. That was inspiration for five books, the latest of which is In Safe Arms. I literally pulled out my phone and started scrawling notes as the plot for Whiteout fell onto the page. We meet both Trent and Angelo in that book for the first time.
2. My muse for Trent was a person I met a few years ago (hence the dedication). It’s not his memoir, it’s not even completely true to his story – his experiences were worse than Trent’s.
3. Cannoli are Trent and Angelo’s favorite dessert. They’re mine too. Except instead of vanilla custard in mine like the Italians eat them, I like it the Maltese way with ricotta cheese, cherries, chocolate and coconut.
4. Nearly all the places I described in Queenstown are real, or inspired by actual locations. The one that was entirely fictional was The Vault. It was based on the office building I used to work in. It was a bank before it was the solicitor’s office I worked at. The safe where we kept all our clients’ wills and other important documents was the old vault.
5. Music played a big part in writing In Safe Arms. But there was one part where I couldn’t get the soundtrack right – the poem scene. For that, I couldn’t rely on music to set the mood because I didn’t have the right song. Instead, I pulled out baby photos.
6. I did most of my research before I started writing. Hours of listening to podcasts, reading statements and survivor stories, reading advice manuals and everything I could find on male survivors of sexual assault. Normally I do the research as I’m writing, but this time there wasn’t room for error.
7. Trent and I argued non-stop over the plot. When he didn’t get his way, he crossed his arms, gave me The Look and tapped his foot waiting for me to cave. He just wouldn’t cooperate. In the end, I threw up my hands and told him to lead the way. He’s a stubborn shit head. Angelo is much more reasonable than his beau!
8. The two models on the front cover are friends of mine, and their personalities are just as gorgeous as their looks.
9. Dodge is a real life cat. The dating story: true. The person who did it: the guy on the left on the cover. And it was totally a genuine mistake – he wasn’t trying to get out of the date he was on! He actually needed cat food.
10. Santa Caterina di Valfurva is totally on my bucket list. It looks as beautiful as I’ve described it.
“The cat you’re minding?”
“Yep.” He nodded. I bit my lip trying not to laugh. It wasn’t funny. He was telling me about some shit that’d gone down that had upset him, but come on. How was I supposed to react? He’d used needing food for the cat he was sitting as an excuse to get out of a date. And the cat’s name was Dodge? You couldn’t make that shit up. I snorted, unsuccessfully trying to stifle my laugh, and wiped my eyes, tears welling from the effort. Trent paused and looked at me, confused, and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I laughed and shook my head, holding my hand up to him.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to laugh at you, but seriously?” I sucked in a breath, my side hurting because I was laughing so hard. “Cat food? For Dodge?” Trent’s lips twitched, and I could see him fighting the smile. I looked at him again and laughed once more, nudging him with my shoulder. “You didn’t even realize how it sounded until now, did you?” When he shook his head and finally let that smile loose, I sucked in a breath, happy for a whole other reason. It was his story and he’d told it, but he was smiling and I couldn’t help but take a little pride in that.
“Fuck me. She looked so damn horrified when I said that, but all I could think about was getting out of there.” He chuckled and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m such a dumb ass.”
“Nah, you just didn’t think.” I nudged his shoulder playfully, letting him know that it wasn’t all bad. “At least tell me you got the food.”
He nodded and sobered up. “I couldn’t wait to get out of there, but I didn’t want to go home either. Figured you would have been busy, so I stopped by the sports bar. Watched a footy match. Haven’t done that by myself in years, and I hated every minute of it. Suppose I had too many drinks.”
My heart clenched, and I wanted to reach out to him. Instead I leaned closer, my side pressed against his, and asked, “You didn’t drive home, did you?” I wasn’t sure whether I was begging him or scolding him for being so damn stupid. If he’d been drinking and driving not only could it be the end of his career, but more importantly, he could have killed someone. And it was all because he didn’t call me.
“Nah, I walked it. The night air sobered me up pretty fast.”
Thank God. I let out the breath I was holding, relief winning my emotional tug-of-war.
“So what happened yesterday and today? You just kept drinking?” It was none of my business, I knew that, but I didn’t care. I needed to know.
“Something like that,” he muttered. This was him shutting down. A noncommittal answer followed by either a subject change or him going quiet, but I couldn’t do it. I needed him to be able to talk to me.
“Look, I’m not going to push you, but maybe it’ll help if you spoke about whatever is bothering you. I’m here. I’ll listen, and I’ll do my best to help, but I can’t unless you talk to me. If not me, then pick someone else. I’m worried about you.”
“Some bad shit happened when I was younger. This time of year always drags it back up, but I’ll get through it.” He paused and added, “This—walking and being outside, spending time with you—it’s helping. You’re helping.”
Ann is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour.
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By day Ann Grech lives in the corporate world and can be found sitting behind a desk typing away at reports and papers or lecturing to a room full of students. She graduated with a PhD in 2016 and is now an over-qualified nerd. Glasses, briefcase, high heels and a pencil skirt, she’s got the librarian look nailed too. If only they knew! She swears like a sailor, so that’s got to be a hint. The other one was “the look” from her tattoo artist when she told him that she wanted her kids’ initials “B” and “J” tattooed on her foot. It took a second to register that it might be a bad idea.
She’s never entirely fit in and loves escaping into a book—whether it’s reading or writing one. But she’s found her tribe now and loves her M/M book world family. She dislikes cooking, but loves eating, can’t figure out technology, but is addicted to it, and her guilty pleasure is Byron Bay Cookies. Oh, and shoes. And lingerie. And maybe handbags too. Well, if we’re being honest, we’d probably have to add her library too given the state of her credit card every month. What can she say? She’s a bookworm at heart.