REVIEW: In Safe Arms, By Ann Grech

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is COVER-In-Safe-Arms-402x600.jpg

Title: In Safe Arms

Series: My Truth Book Two

Author: Ann Grech

Genre: Contemporary

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay/MM

Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing

Pages: 304

Reviewer: Pat

Get It On Amazon

About The Book

Will he risk it all to be in safe arms?

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. 

The Review

I admit from the outset of this review that some readers’ perfect amount of angst and mine don’t always agree. If you love stories that dive deep into a bad situation in order to reach a romantic conclusion, you’ll love this book. 

In Safe Arms begins with New Zealand sixteen-year-old Trent confessing to his godfather that he’s gay. To teach that teen what gay is all about and that he’s not gay, the livid, homophobic godfather proceeds to rape Trent, beat him up, throw the teen out of his house, and then call his folks, lying to cover his own tracks. 

Back at home, traumatized and sore, Trent is ordered by his parents to return to the godfather’s place and apologize to the man for trashing his house, drinking all his beer, and lying about what happened, none of which Trent has done.

Understandably, rather than do what his parents ask, Trent breaks ties with them by running away from home, living on the street, and going through horrific experiences. Months and years pass as he puts his life back together, gets a job, finishes school, and ultimately becomes an emergency aid worker. The memory of the rape and subsequent events lives on in Trent’s mind and in his aborted relationships for years afterward.

He befriends photographer Angelo, who has moved to Queensland from Italy, and they become roommates. Angelo has his own problems. He can’t have sex with casual acquaintances and needs a solid basis of trust and friendship to perform. He ultimately falls hard for Trent, who has now talked himself into acting like a homophobe around men he knows or suspects are gay, including Angelo’s brothers.

Both Angelo’s and Trent’s angst build as their frustration levels do. Author Grech constantly reminds readers about what Trent has gone through and his conflicted state of mind about sex, which for me wasn’t much of a justification for his abhorrent behavior.

While I like a little angst in my stories, I have reservations about this story. First, the overload in Grech’s book comes across as just a little too much for me. I also had a hard time with Trent’s self-hating attitude toward gays and his refusal to get counseling for his past trauma. As an EMT who treats and has treated all sorts of people and hands out advice about the repercussions of trauma, how could he ignore getting help himself? How can he be an effective EMT and keep his job if he shows such hatred and disgust for gays?

Toned down and reconsidered in parts, In Safe Arms would be a wonderful book about survival and the ability of the human spirit to overcome even the worst difficulties. The story’s a little too over-the-top for me, but those who enjoy angsty stories will absolutely love this examination of Trent’s journey from victim to forever love.

The Reviewer

Pat Henshaw:

  1. Is a she, not a he.
  2. Writes MM romances.
  3. Has interviewed Arlo Guthrie, Big Bird, Fred Rogers, Liberace, and Vincent Price.
  4. Has lived and worked on all three US coasts and in the middle of the country, too.
  5. Has been a reviewer, costumer, librarian, and teacher.
  6. Has ridden an elephant, touched the pyramids, and stood at the edge of a volcano.
  7. Believes love is essential to everyone’s happiness.
  8. She wants you to remember: Every day is a good day for romance!

Leave a Comment