The Teacher’s Wounded Heart by AJ Jarrett

The Teacher’s Wounded Heart by AJ Jarrett
Publisher: Siren BookStrand
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (133 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

Drew Hamilton is happy living a quiet life. Becoming a teacher was all he ever wanted and up until a few months ago that was enough to keep him content, that was before Cal Saunders moved in next door and changed everything. Drew feels like his life is spinning out of control, but falling for the tattooed god isn’t in his plans.

Cal knows the well dressed and mild mannered teacher is slumming it to be with a man who makes his living as a tattoo artist. Where he’s rough around the edges, Drew is smooth and sweet, everything Cal’s ever wanted. No matter how much Drew pushes him away, Cal won’t turn his back on what’s happening between them.

Drew knows he needs to let go of his past and move forward but fear keeps him paralyzed to do anything about it. He needs to figure it out soon before the only man he’s ever truly loved walks away.

A quiet teacher with a broken heart meets a gorgeous tattoo artist, and is swept away in a sexy whirlwind romance.

Both men’s characters are well depicted, distinct to show their differing personality traits. Drew Hamilton was burned by love in high school, the act freezing his heart and making him always expect the worst when it comes to people interested in him. He’s a teacher and a coach for the girls’s volleyball team, living vicariously through their enthusiasm. Cal Saunders has had no such bad experience, and is thus ready, willing and able to be reckless and wild with his heart and in his relationships. As a tattoo artist, he’s seen it all, and when he sees something he wants, he goes after it, carelessly doling out his love and affection, daring to expect the best possible outcome and a future together. The clash of these differing views on love and life is both erotic and bittersweet.

The plot revolves around the burgeoning relationship and the ensuing (melo)drama. There’s a precarious balance between being emotional and overemotional, between effective drama and overflowing melodrama. This tale dances on that knife’s edge. At times I felt Drew was being a bit over-the-top, crying all the time. Once or twice in a story is fine; after that it becomes excessive and the man feels, well, less manly. That constant crying never strikes me as true for a male character, which is why I couldn’t give this a full five stars. That endless blubbering just took me out of the story.

One thing I found pretty good about the plot twists was that Cal does finally decide Drew has hurt him enough, and leaves. This was a good choice because had he stuck it out with someone who was never going to give him his heart in return would have made Cal far too idealistic in the realism sense. No one really has that kind of patience when heartbroken. For me, that moment was realistic, forcing Drew to take action to change his life. Unyielding support would not have yielded the same results, I think.

Another thing I liked were the supporting characters, Chloe and Brett. They behaved like real people. Chloe has been Drew’s best friend since childhood but even she has her limits of what she can bear from a sullen Drew, and Brett loses patience with a moping Cal, even though they are best friends as well. The realism of friendship, where sometimes you have to kick them in the rear-end, was a nice touch to the tale.

Overall, I found this story to be immersive, sexy, and emotional, mostly in a good way. I was invested in the characters, and the plot moved forward at a reasonable pace. So I recommend this to all those who love M/M romances with emotional depth and lots of hot and heavy moments.

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