Boys of Venice Beach, #1
by Jan St. Marcus
Narrator: Toby James
Length: 14 hours 18 minutes
Released: July 16th 2021
Publisher: Blue Ascot Media
Genre: MM Romance
The Book Junkie Reads . . . Review of . . . DAMAGED HEARTS (Boys of Venice Beach, #1) . . . I enjoyed every minute of this one. I loved meeting Brandon and following him on his journey and self-discovery. Now, Michelangelo was just the topping on it all. His life was so much more than I would have imagined it to be from the synopsis. Grant Briggs was a character that was a bully, but one that had things to figure out for himself. I can see him being in more of the Boys of Venice Beach series.
Toby James gave me a full narration with pitch, tone, and variation. My introduction to him was enjoyed. Thank you Jan for inviting me into your head, memories, and plot for a different kind of journey for new full characters.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jan St. Marcus. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
A chance encounter connects them.
Their tragic pasts bond them.
An unexpected love surprises them.
An unseen danger stalks them.
Love doesn't have a chance...or does it?
When 19-year-old military veteran Brandon Hawkins is attacked on Venice Beach by a gang of frat boys, he is saved by Michelangelo Curtis, a passerby. Michelangelo was roaming the boardwalk grieving the death of his twin brother six months earlier. The two men’s unexpected encounter forges a strong bond between the damaged and lonely men.
Inviting the homeless Bran to his place for some food and a shower, 25-year-old Michelangelo finds himself drawn to the younger man. Neither of the men is gay. But before long, their friendship morphs into something like love and takes them both by surprise. And they have something else in common: The frat boys are out for revenge!
Damaged Hearts is an M/M romance with a "gay for you" plot, HEA ending, and thriller elements that will keep you glued until the very end.
Jan St. Marcus is currently working as a professional photographer in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area where he recently relocated after 25 years in the Los Angeles Area. Many of those years were spent living on the Beach in Venice, California, the setting for The Boys Of Venice Beach Series. DAMAGED HEARTS is the first of 4 novels planned for the series. He is currently single.
SynopsisBrandon Hawkins is a homeless, nineteen-year-old Marine Corps veteran, currently roaming the boardwalk in Venice Beach California. On the evening of his 19th birthday, he is scavenging for food when he is harassed by three frat boys from a nearby college.
MichaelAngelo Curtis is a 25-year-old mathematician and programmer for the NSA who is walking the boardwalk while grieving the death of his twin brother six months earlier. For reasons unknown to him, MichaelAngelo intervenes when he sees the homeless guy being harassed and he ends up breaking the arm of the ringleader, Grant Briggs. MichaelAngelo escapes any charges due to the fact that he recorded the incident on his cell phone, which he forwards the police for their report. After dealing with the police, MichaelAngelo invites Brandon to his house for a hot meal and a shower. Unbeknownst to both of them, this unexpected encounter leads to a strong bond being forged between the two damaged people who find a temporary respite from their own loneliness. The next day, MichaelAngelo discover that the police officers leaked the video to the internet and the clip of the frat boys getting ‘owned’ goes viral, racking up millions of hits in a few short days. The release of the clip and the subsequent outcry over the actions of the frat boys leads the three to be expelled from college, publicly humiliated and their futures ruined. While Brandon and MichaelAngelo see themselves growing closer, lines are crossed and feelings morph beyond the simple bonds of friendship, veering towards something like love. This is a big problem since neither one of them is gay. Brandon, an orphan who grew up in horrible foster homes, group homes, juvenile detention and eventually the streets, he has never had anybody in his life to care about him. MichaelAngelo and his twin brother were orphaned when they were eight years old and they only ever cared about each other. Since the death of his brother, MichaelAngelo has been emotionally lost. His inexplicable bond with Brandon is a completely new sensation even while filling a hole in his life that he never thought could be filled. As MichaelAngelo and Brandon explore their new and confusing feelings for each other, Grant Briggs, the ringleader of the frat boys, plots his revenge on the people he blames for the destruction of his life. One night, after returning from a vacation with MichaelAngelo, Brandon is viciously attacked by Grant and one of his friends. As his life flashes before his eyes in what he is sure are the final moments of his life, Brandon smiles with the ironic realization that all the pain and suffering he endured throughout his life were necessary to bring him to the point of being able to love and be loved. When his eyes close for the last time, he feels lucky to have met MichaelAngelo and grateful for the love they shared… When MichaelAngelo is informed of the attack, he begins and extended vigil at the hospital, the same one where his twin died, and he’s certain that the cruel outcome will be the same for Brandon. Six weeks later, though, Brandon wakes up from his coma, disoriented, but alive. Unfortunately, the attack left him paralyzed from the waist down. Before Brandon was attacked, he and MichaelAngelo had acknowledged that they were in love, but they never physically consummated the relationship, mainly due to the fact that MichaelAngelo is a virgin and literally didn’t know how. And while consummating the relationship is a promise that MichaelAngelo made to Brandon, he now refuses to go the distance while Brandon is paralyzed. Since there was no permanent damage to his spinal cord, there is still a possibility that Brandon will walk again. MichaelAngelo is content to wait—using that as additional motivation for Brandon to continue working hard on his complete physical recovery. Six months after Brandon’s attack, the relationship shows signs of strain, as Brandon wants to break things off so MichaelAngelo can live a normal life, find love again and live happily ever after. But MichaelAngelo is 100% committed to Brandon—no matter what. On the first night they are in bed together since the attack, Brandon awakens in the middle of the night Something is happening and it can’t wait until the morning. As a startled MichaelAngelo worries, Brandon pulls MichaelAngelo’s hand down across his chest, down his stomach and then to his groin, where, to MichaelAngelo’s surprise, Brandon has come alive! This first manifestation of feeling below Brandon’s waist confirms their hopes for a bright, normal future. Their passionate kisses and tearful embrace show us that true love can indeed conquer all!
Brief Character DescriptionsBrandon ‘Bran’ Hawkins: Bran is a 19-year-old Marine Corps veteran who is suffering from PTSD and is currently homeless in Venice Beach, California. Being homeless is nothing new for Bran, though, as he was an orphan who never knew his parents and grew up in horrible foster homes and group homes and eventually ended up living in the streets of Memphis, Tennessee before enlisting in the Marines at 17. He is used to having nobody to care for him and is not bitter or angry about his crappy lot in life. In fact, he is surprisingly content and matter-of-fact about the realities of his life. His self-deprecating sense of humor and his unbridled joy at the simple things in life make Bran an endearing and lovable character.
MichaelAngelo Curtis: MichaelAngelo, who was named after the famous classical artist, is a 25-year-old mathematician and computer programmer for the NSA. While he has the trappings of a nice life—a beach house, fancy cars and lots of money to burn—he is currently grieving the death of his twin brother, Leonardo six months earlier. MichaelAngelo and Leonardo were exceptionally close, even for twins, after being orphaned by a car accident when they were 8-years-old. MichaelAngelo is devastated because he has never loved or been loved by anyone other than his brother and he has no idea how to navigate the world on his own. MichaelAngelo has no filter and describes himself as a “social retard” due to his inexperience interacting with others in a ‘normal’ manner. But he is always open, honest and direct.
Devon Johnston: Devon is a security agent hired by the NSA to keep MichaelAngelo safe and protected. Because MichaelAngelo works from his home instead of the campus of NSA, his identity and the nature of his work need to be protected so that he remains away from the prying eyes and ears of our enemies. Devon takes his work very seriously and will use the considerable tools at his disposal, including dedicated FBI and CIA operatives to keep MichaelAngelo’s identity safe.
Grant Briggs: Grant is the ringleader of a small group of frat boys that harass Bran on the boardwalk. The selfish, entitled son of a prominent trial lawyer in Los Angeles, Grant is a narcissist that finds a way to blame everyone but himself for whatever troubles he gets himself into. When his ill-mannered exploits on the boardwalk turn into a viral internet sensation, he is expelled from college and becomes a pariah. As his future prospects dim before his very eyes, he sets his sights on getting revenge on the homeless guy who he blames for his current situation.