4 out of 4 stars
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Damaged Hearts (Book 1 in The Boys of Venice Beach Series) is a multiple narrator book by Jan St. Marcus. It is a gay romance book, but it can also be considered a suspense novel. Everything takes place in California. Brandon, a young former military man, is now a beggar looking for food. After trying to get a piece of pizza from the trash, three teenagers who had discarded the food decide to humiliate the anonymous beggar. One of them (Grant) spit on a piece of the discarded pizza. That's when a hero appears out of the blue. A guy called Michelangelo decides to record what is happening with his mobile phone and starts a conversation with the bullies.
Grant tries to assault the fearless hero and ends up being immobilized. The police arrive, and, from then on, everything begins to change. Michelangelo is a rich guy who invented an algorithm and is protected by the FBI. He decides to call Brandon to his house and feed the hungry beggar. Gradually, the two begin to like each other, although neither considers themselves gay.
Everything gets more complicated when the video of the three guys humiliating the beggar goes viral. Soon the reader understands why the police officer decided to upload it. After that, any chance the three teenagers might have had to study at a decent college goes down the drain.
What makes the plot interesting is that Grant, the cocky kid who tried to humiliate Brandon, is the son of one of the city's most famous lawyers. After having his life ruined, he uses his father's money and influence to try to take revenge and find both responsible for his ruin.
That being said, it's impressive how Jan St. Marcus is a gifted author. Only an experienced author can write a multiple narrator book and cohesively put all chapters together. The author of Damaged Hearts did a masterful job writing a book that has six different narrators. How talented must a writer be to do that? The fascinating aspect of the book and my favorite part for sure, however, is the author's ability to create scenes that look real. When Brandon and Michelangelo are listening to the song Creep, the reader has the impression that it somehow happened in the real world. After finishing the book, I wanted to learn more about the author. After some research, I found out that Jan St. Marcus had recently lost a brother in the same way as the main character Michelangelo. That is one of the reasons why he wrote the book with such passion.
While reading a review on Amazon, I found out that one user said that the level of instant trust between the men is extreme and, thus, artificial. He could not be more unfair. The author makes it clear that both characters were emotionally shaken at that moment. In similar situations, people unconsciously want to believe that they have found the love of their lives and that all the problems are over. It's the famous wishful thinking, and it happens to a multitude of couples. How can this be artificial if it is a commonplace in so many people's lives?
All things put together, I conclude that Damaged Hearts deserves 4 out of 4 stars because it is exceptionally impeccable from the first page to the last. I found no flaws to mention. Besides, there is no question that it is professionally edited. Because of its many mean words and explicit sexual content, I recommend Damaged Hearts to anyone who considers themselves progressive and over 18 years old. Gay people will enjoy it as well for obvious reasons.
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