Title: His Truth
Author: Riley Hart
Length: 272 Pages
At a Glance: While His Truth was admittedly well done in terms of pathos, emotional content, and healing, the story itself just felt overwritten and sometimes became a chore to read.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: They were only kids when they met for the first time. Leo Mancini was the son of a judge. Roman Cipriani the son of a criminal. So different, yet as they shared stolen kisses and secret moments, they fell in love. One day they would run away together, have the future they deserved, because no one loved Leo like Roman did, or Roman like Leo did. But before they could make their dreams come true, their future was viciously stolen and their lives changed forever.
Roman has spent the last twelve years repressing the trauma in his past, trying to pretend it didn’t exist, until even he believed his own lies.
Leo won’t let himself forget what happened because he doesn’t ever want to be that person again. He won’t become the man his father wanted him to be or the guy who gets hurt when he lets someone in.
But in that split second when their eyes meet again, everything changes. Despite Leo’s anger and Roman’s denial, the connection they shared as teens is still there, too powerful to deny. Now, when their moments don’t have to be stolen, they cling to what they’ve always craved–each other.
Roman and Leo aren’t kids anymore, though–they can’t lock themselves away from the world and pretend nothing exists but each other. A trauma like Roman suffered doesn’t just go away, but now that Roman accepts his truth, can the two of them escape their demons before they destroy Roman and Leo a second time?
Possible triggers: violence and homophobia
Review: Riley Hart has a definite skill at getting inside of the heads of the characters she creates. Hence, His Truth is more of a psychological romance than a straight forward love story. Perhaps it’s because the two men were torn apart, in their late teens, from a relationship that was all-consuming and destined to blow up. Or maybe it’s because there are so many unresolved issues from their pasts that prevent this from being a simple relationship, but whatever the reason, there is a whole basket load of trauma weighing both guys down, and it will have to be resolved before their feelings for each other can move forward.
Two total opposite kids, Leo, wealthy and ignored by his parents, fell hard for Roman, whose father was not only abusive but a criminal as well. It didn’t help that Leo’s dad was a judge and had little more than contempt for Roman and his family. Regardless of their economic disparity, Roman fell hard for Leo, and with thoughts of a forever love in both their minds, they made one fatal mistake that would cost them both years of pain. The horrific fallout caused Roman to bury his real sexual identity so far in the closet that he never looked at a man again. Determined to be heterosexual despite his inability to really fall in love with a woman, Roman is a driven, successful businessman who has put his now deceased father and jailed brother far from his mind and life. He manages to keep his demons at bay…until he spots the one person who could bring it all down around his head. Leo.
Leo has escaped his parents’ wealth, their contempt for his drifter lifestyle, and is happy—sort of. He never has any permanent relationships but prefers moving from one partner to another, in a series of one-night stands that he convinces himself are satisfying and make him happy. But when he sees Roman, the boy he loved, the boy who betrayed that love and threw him away, the past comes rearing back. And so does the pain and anger. Now these two men must grapple with what the past has made them, what their future could possibly be, and all the lies they have told themselves over the years. It will either destroy them and their long-lost love once and for all, or it will set them free.
This was a heavy novel, not so much because there was a deeply involved plot but really because of the luggage both men carried with them into adulthood. Be forewarned there is a fairly violent beginning scene that made me cringe, and it shaped everything about the adult Roman you will need to know in order to understand how he buried the trauma he endured so completely. There was much to like about this story, the gentle evolution and coming out process for Roman being the key element. Also the way in which author Riley Hart crafted Leo’s response to his first love reappearing in his life, and all the subsequent feelings that brought with it, was so well done.
In some ways this was really a tender romance, but so often we got thrust into the minds of both men that it stalled the story after a while. There is only so much second guessing one can read before even the best of characters prompts you to yell at them to either get over it or get help. In this case, I felt the novel went way too long before Roman inevitably broke down and recognized that he was going to need more than sex with Leo to deal with past trauma. I had no qualms with how the author moved from past to present various times throughout the story—it was almost seamlessly done and well crafted. It also gave us a much needed frame of reference for everything Roman was going through and why he was so hellbent on not being gay.
Despite the in depth view of Roman and Leo’s motivations for just about every action they took, the story felt slow and cumbersome due to the constant questioning of motivations and intentions. So, while His Truth was admittedly well done in terms of pathos, emotional content, and healing, the story itself just felt overwritten and sometimes became a chore to read.
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