Reviewed by Vicki
SERIES: Survivor Stories #4
AUTHOR: J.P. Barnaby
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 27th, 2016
Aaron Downing worshiped his mother. She saved his life. She did everything for him. But Anthony Downing has a different perspective. He sees the woman who tossed him into a basement for eight long years and forgot he existed. When Anthony decides he’s done being invisible, he packs up and heads for Detroit to stay with his Internet friend Jay, but fate intervenes.
Brendan Mears lost everything the day the man with a gun came into his father’s store. Now, he’s tethered to a business he can’t manage and a brother who resents him.
Different in all the ways that matter, Anthony and Brendan struggle to overcome their psychological obstacles, until a crushing betrayal sends them running for cover and each other.
I’ve been curious about this book since I heard it was coming. I’ve read Aaron, Spencer, and Ben a couple of time each, just recently in expectation of this book, so the stories are all fresh in my mind. They are some of the best written books about characters with serious issues that I’ve read. Aaron is a deep and well-developed character, and I love him dearly. Spencer as well, his strength and patience is amazing. Then Ben… Oh, he’s such a screwed up mess, but totally found his love match with Jude, who is able to adapt and give him what he needs. Through all of this has been Anthony and Allen, Aaron’s two brothers.
Anthony was very young when Aaron’s attack occurred and only vaguely knew what was happening. As is appropriate for his age. Unfortunately his parents didn’t handle Anthony and Allen in an appropriate way. They were so tied up in Aaron that the other two boys are pretty much ignored. They are actually moved to bedrooms in the basement to get them away from Aaron and his nightmares. This was not a good situation for the somewhat delicate Anthony. Eight years later, Aaron has moved out to live with Spencer, Allen is off to college, and Anthony is a recovering drug addict at 17. He’s gay, lusting after his asshole of a best friend, ignored by his family, and pissed off at everyone. After a bad experience with the asshole best friend, he agrees to go to Detroit to hook up with a boy he’s met online. This is one of those times where you as a reader, and as an adult, can see the bad shit coming from a mile away. Anthony waits until his mother is gone, packs his shit in his car, and starts the drive to Detroit.
Anthony makes it to Detroit, but his car dies in the middle of the night, leaving him stranded in a liquor store parking lot. He has no idea what to do. Now remember, Anthony has never done anything on his own in his life, other than sneak out and drink. He’s already had a trip to rehab, but has basically been sheltered his whole life. Now he’s stuck somewhere in Detroit, no phone, no help, and no way to contact Jay, the guy that offers him a place to stay. He crawls in the back seat and goes to sleep.
Brendan and Patrick own the liquor store that Anthony has crash landed in front of. They have their own issues… their father originally owned the store, Brendan, the younger sibling, was committed to taking over the store, while Patrick goes off to college. One night that all changes when a robbery occurs, ending in the death of their father, and the injury of Brendan. Patrick moves back home to take over the store, while Brendan becomes a recluse, hiding in the family home, drinking, and watching Patrick on the security cameras. Brendan is the one that notices a Mustang in their parking lot. Patrick knocks on the door of the car, and offers a very reluctant and scared Anthony a little help.
All of this leads us to Anthony getting the help and adopted family that he so desperately needs. Patrick offers him a job and an apartment over the liquor store. Patrick also leads him to Brendan, and the two start a relationship. Sort of…
So here are my thoughts on this book: I liked it quite a bit, but it just didn’t have the emotional drama of the other books. I think if this book had been a stand alone story I probably would have really liked it. But after the other three books it didn’t grab my heart. Anthony is really young, and hard for me to like. I did have sympathy for him, but I wanted to slap him at the same time. Once he gets to Patrick and Brendan I did see some hope that he might grow up. But he just annoyed me too much of the time.
I wasn’t fond of his relationship with Brendan. We only get glimpses of Brendan, and what I saw I really didn’t like. Brendan needs some help. He drinks too much, and has become housebound. I wanted to see his progress. I wanted Anthony to push him a bit, I wanted Brendan to fight for his own recovery. I wanted Patrick to force it a bit. At the very end of the book we are told that Brendan will get some help, but I think I needed to see that happen. All three of these guys are a mess, we see the mess, and just begin to see the solution to it. I wish there had been a few more chapters showing me the solution, not just telling me it was going to happen.
There is some drama surrounding the “friend” Anthony was going to meet, I liked that. Well, I didn’t like what happened, but I liked the drama that it added to the story. We also got to see Anthony’s family acting like assholes, not sure I really liked that part….
So overall I liked this book and it was a good addition to the series. Anthony needed some attention and a resolution and I’m glad he got it. J.P. is a damn fine author and I love her fucked up characters. I’m glad she went back to this storyline and wrapped it up with Anthony. If you have read the other three Survivor stories you need to read this one to see how it all ends. If you haven’t read them, you really need to. Partly because they are awesome books, and partly so you understand where Anthony is coming from.