Title: Unearthing Cole (Discover Me #1) and Understanding Jeremy (Discover Me #2)
Author: A.M. Arthur
Genre: MM, series
Vice: Contemporary, Abusive Past
Rating: Rated together: 4.25 (Book 1- 3.5, Book 2- 4.5)
Lock this book up: 3.5 out of 5 keys, sex scenes are hot and support the romance in the story very well
Length: Short novels (approx. 300 print pages total)
Satisfaction: A very satisfying HFN (due to ongoing healing to be done). I hope the series isn't over, but totally satisfactory ending if it was!
Cover Impressions: I like them. Simple, but with thought.
Best Line: "I love you, and I want you in my life for as long as you want me to be here."
Synopsis: Book 1- Cole Alston swore he’d never return to his childhood home in rural North Carolina, but when his mother dies, he inherits her hoarded property. He hopes to sell everything and use the money to start over in Canada, far away from his abusive ex-boyfriend. It’s a daunting task, and Cole has no idea where to start. Luckily for him, the local antique store owner, Jeremy Collins, volunteers his services in sorting the hoard. Their professional relationship soon evolves into a personal one, but Cole must overcome his past and his anxiety before he can accept a new man in his life or the possibility of a happy future.
Book 2- No one in Jeremy Collins's life ever stays. His parents, sister, and wife are all dead. Now he has taken Cole Alston into his home to help him recover from years of abuse at the hands of his ex. Jeremy hopes Cole, who he loves, will stick around, but after eight years of Cole not being allowed to make his own choices, Jeremy doesn't think he has the right to ask. As Jeremy keeps his concerns and desires to himself, his best friend Bethann calls on him for a huge favor--claim he's the father of her baby so she isn't ostracized in their small town for sleeping with a married man. However doing so would be tantamount to denying his relationship with Cole. Rumors fly before Jeremy can explain to Cole that he said no, and suddenly the whole town is in his business. Rather than reassure Cole, Jeremy's explanations have the opposite effect. Something is going on in Cole's mind that Jeremy doesn't know about, and in order to get Cole to talk, Jeremy will need to confront his own deepest fear.
Impressions: (May contain some spoilers for Book 1)
I love A.M. Arthur's work, so when Unearthing Cole came out I jumped on it. I remember enjoying it, but having a few concerns about some elements. I really loved the characters of Jeremy and Cole, and I was definitely captivated by the story. When Understanding Jeremy was released I was excited to go back and reread book 1 in preparation for book 2.
A.M. Arthur's writing is always a joy for me to read, and I know I am going to be pulled into the lives of characters that will really make me care about them. These books were no different. Cole's past is so sad, and he has so much healing to do, that I loved seeing his story continue, and I loved the chance to hear about it from Jeremy.
In book 1, Cole is newly dealing with the traumas from his ex, Martin. Jeremy is a man who is also dealing with terrible losses in his past (his wife, and much of his family). Jeremy provides Cole with the safety and love he needs to begin to think about a new way of life. I loved both men and their tentative steps to love. What bothered me about book 1 was towards the end, when Martin comes to apologize. I didn't buy that his 3 days of trauma would make him more understanding of the ongoing pain he caused Cole. I also didn't think that someone who was truly repentant would think that visiting the man he brutalized and who ran away from him was truly a selfless act. I kept anticipating that Martin would be back in Cole's life, though I was glad to be wrong! There was no question that Cole, and Jeremy, has a long way to go to learn to love and trust, but by book1 they were on their way.
In book 2, we meet up with Cole and Jeremy shortly after the conclusion of book 1. Jeremy is so worried about boxing in Cole or trusting that he can love something without it leaving him, that he is very careful to give Cole space. Cole, who feels like no one can really love him, takes Jeremy's space as a sign that he is not needed. Bethann obviously makes this much harder for both of them with her antics, but I loved Jeremy's unwavering dedication to Cole. I loved watching Cole learn to believe in Jeremy's love, and to see these two men grow closer.
Overall, I think these books are definitely best read together. I can't imagine reading #2 without meeting the characters in #1, but I also think #2 is an essential follow up to #1. The series left me feeling complete, but I would definitely welcome another chance to visit these guys. Cole has a lot of growing and healing to do, and I would love to revisit these guys in the future!
Definitely recommended (as a pair!)