A Careful Heart

Author: Ralph Josiah Bardsley33864398

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Publication Date: 1. March 2017

Diversity: LGBT characters

Rating: 3/5. Stars

TW: domestic abuse, murder, drug abuse

Summary: Travis Gaines and Stephen Davis are as close as two best friends can be. Born less than a month apart, they grew up as neighbors in a small northern New Hampshire town. After college, they make their way together to Boston, craving the excitement and fast pace of New England’s biggest city.

As they get their bearings in Boston, Travis falls hard for Benson, a senior executive at the financial services firm where he works. Benson is wealthy, handsome, and well connected among Boston’s well heeled. At first it seems like Benson is everything a guy could ever want, but behind that glossy veneer is a dark side that threatens to tear Travis and Stephen’s friendship apart and change their lives for ever.


Order here: amazonBoldStrokesBooks

Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


This story is about two good friends growing up together and then moving in together. It’s also about their love life and how it influences their friendship, about good and bad relationships and about growing up.

This book has some quite interesting characters and I loved the interplay between Travis and Stephen. Their friendship feels very strong at first, but I couldn’t really buy it in the end due to various reasons I will discuss later on.

I really liked Gabe, the redhead Boston Cop. He’s a great guy, but sadly I felt as if his and Stephen’s relationship could have been developed more? But despite this, I enjoyed their build up a lot.

I also loved the family relationships that were shown in the story, especially Gabe’s and Stephen’s parents who seemed really supportive and nice, this was really great to read. The characters were also written quite well, so I enjoyed reading the book

There were a lot of time skips, many in the beginning, quite a few again in the back, which threw me out of the story a few times and made it hard for me to really feel connected with the character.

Something that really bothered me was the way how no one seemed to really care what happened to Travis. We were shown again and again how he was abused and even though Stephen didn’t know everything he knew enough, which should have made him grab Travis and get him as far away as possible from his abuser. Especially with the time skips it seemed like they talked about the problem, but didn’t directly offered Travis their help, which hugely peeved me out. Another thing that bothered me was when Gabe threatened Travis’ abuser, without having first made sure that Travis is safe? Threatening an abuser is never a good idea as it can lead to them lashing out even worse at their victim.

While I understood Travis way of thought to some extent I have to say I’m really disappointed in all his friends and family, as until the end they didn’t step up enough. Now something like this is surely a hard situation to be in, as you want to help your friend but feel like you’re helpless, but it just made me feel a bit resentful towards Stephen and Gabe, especially since both of them knew what this kind of abuse could lead to when it comes to its worst. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt that way if we would have seen them directly talk to Travis more than once, but like this I just… didn’t really like how they handled the situation.

Another thing that bothered me was that even though Stephen had dated a girl before and Gabe had even suggested that not everyone is straight or gay, the bisexuality was never brought up. Even Stephen just thinking it over and realizing that’s not who he is would be better than this complete ignorance of sexualities that fall between gay and straight.

All in all, I think this is quite a quick read and lovely writing, but due to the time skips which felt very jarring, I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I could have. However, I’m also happy that it told the story of an often overlooked part of same-gender relationships as spousal/domestic abuse is barely every brought up in LGBT spaces (I feel like it’s being brought up more recently, but I also still see some people over-romanticising same-gender relationships and completely denying that they can also be abusive or victims feeling that since they’ve had such a relationship they shed a bad light on the community if they told about it, which is definitely not true, so it is definitely a very, very important thing to talk about and this book has some quite good points about that)


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