Through Ryan’s trials, there are three different perspectives: a best friend watching from the outside, a lover desperate to get in, and his own mind.
His struggles were theirs. He just didn’t know it.
A tragic accident changed Dr. Ryan Jacobs’ life and freed him from a past he thought he’d never escape, but with that freedom came the realization: he could escape the man, but would be bound to the torturous battle within his mind. Fighting for control of his thoughts, he lived recklessly in a life of addiction and the next good time. Wearing a mask of deception, and hiding it beautifully behind his playboy ways, he fooled himself into thinking this was the real him, but he couldn’t fool everyone.
Dr. Michael Jonas considered Ryan more than just a friend, he was his family. With the support of his wife, Michael held Ryan’s hand, listened to him cry, and helped him through the hardest events of his life. He could see through the fake smiles and playboy attitude, seeing his best friend for the man he really was. After Michael’s wife had given birth to their first child, Michael vowed never to let pain affect his family again, Ryan included. But Michael carried his own burdens and watching Ryan struggle was harder than he thought. It tore him apart, silently, until there was only one choice. Save his best friend before it was too late.
As a high-powered attorney, Jayson Alexander thrived on easy thrills both in his professional and personal life, but when his heart broke the rules, he had no choice but to break it and run from the pain. Obsessive about controlling his own life, he set goals and rules and tried to ensure his own happiness, but life had a different plan. So he sought out answers and took on a case that would eventually change everything. He was drawn to Ryan from the moment he laid eyes on him. With a magnetic connection he couldn’t deny, he found Ryan irresistible, but he found out quickly the connection was more than physical. Jayson wanted Ryan, but how could he fight the demons Ryan’s mind was creating and stop them from pushing him away?
Ryan built a force field around his heart, vowing after that tragic day, no man would be allowed close enough to ever hurt him again, but with the support of his best friend and the man he loved, could Ryan beat The Struggle Within once and for all?
Due to strong sexual content and language, The Struggle Within is intended for mature readers 18 years of age or over.
Trigger warning: The Struggle Within may contain a subject matter that is sensitive to some readers as it deals with domestic abuse, self-harm, and addictive behavior. The author asks that the reader please take these warnings seriously and requests discretion be advised.
Ryan is damaged. Years of abuse suffered at the hands of the man that claims to love him, his husband, has left the shy and innocent young doctor Ryan was when he first met Calvin, broken. Ridden with self-doubt and anxiety, Ryan has turned to anti-anxiety medicine and sex to combat and numb the anxiety he feels. Ryan doesn't believe he deserves love or a happy ending. He also never thought he'd want to try a relationship again, until he meets his best friend, Michael's, brother-in-law, Jayson.
Jayson is an attorney handling the wrongful death law suit brought on by Ryan's deceased husband's family against Michael. Jayson has decided he needs not only a change of scenery, but also an escape from his closeted ex-boyfriend, who is trying desperately to win him back. When he meets Ryan he can't help but be drawn to the man, but Jayson doesn't want to just be one of Ryan's many conquests, he's just not sure Ryan will ever be open to more.
I'll start by saying this was a really long book, but while it's long, it's a quick read. My co-blogger, Mari, has read some of Tyler's works, but this was my first, and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. It flows well and is easy to read and fast-paced.
When I picked this book up, I fully expected to walk away with my heart torn to shreds and maybe a little broken myself. While the book is heartbreaking and the subject matter isn't easy to read about, the story is told after the abuse is over. We do see the abuse in flashbacks, but I think the book would have been much harder to get through if the abuse was told in the present tense. Still, I want to warn if domestic violence, rape, self harm or suicide are triggers for you, please tread with caution where this book is concerned.
The story is told not just from Ryan and Jayson's POV's, but from Michael's as well. These three men are all somewhat broken. They are all in different stages of therapy and healing, but they all work well together as a support system, along with Michael's wife, Jenna. This was an emotional read, but what was more emotional and heartbreaking is the true accounts from the abuse survivors included in the book. I applaud these brave men, not only for finding the strength to get away from their abusers, but for having the courage to speak up and tell their stories.
This was an intense and powerful story. It wasn't always an easy read, but I loved watching Ryan heal and let himself open up to Jayson, learn to trust him and accept his love. The chemistry between these men was off the charts and once they gave in to their attraction the sex was not only hot, but passionate and loving, as well. The story is well-written and the subject well-researched. From the moment I picked this book up, it held me captive and I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended!
*copy provided to me by author/publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review*