Until I Saw You, Dianna Roman
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Publisher: Wild One Press LLC
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Contemporary, Bi-Awakening (?), Disability, Domestic Abuse (See Warnings in Book and Below), First Time, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
Length: 316 Pages
Purchase At: Amazon
Harper Reid has no money and nowhere to go, but he can’t spend one more day under the same roof as his abusive boyfriend. Desperate to start fresh, he takes on a special case through the caregiver agency that contracts him. The client has fired everyone else, but this job includes lodging, so Harper will find a way to make it work until he’s back on his feet.
High-flying, eccentric Riley Davenport has lost his sight, effectively clipping the vivacious man’s wings. Learning to navigate in darkness is difficult enough without being treated like a house plant by his girlfriend, parents, and friends. The last thing he needs is another pushy caregiver, hovering over him, curtailing the last of his freedom. But Harper Reid is different…very different.
Nervous, quiet, reserved. It’s almost like Harper has secrets and is the one who needs to be taught how to live again. And why does he smell like sugar cookies? Men aren’t supposed to smell delicious.
An MM romance story of survival, healing, and finding the courage to love.
There are major triggers in this book. I’ve listed the author’s warnings from the front of the book below. This book is very disturbing in some places. If any of these are triggers for you, do not read this book. Note also that the sexual assault, while off-page, is still described with some detail on-page.
- Off-page sexual assault, discussions of sexual assault
- Physical and emotional domestic abuse
- On-page physical altercation
- Both preferred and slang terminology regarding low vision and sighted persons
- Explicit consensual sexual content
- Adult language, profanity
Harper Reid is running for his life. This isn’t me being dramatic. He has literally just ran from his MMA fighter boyfriend, Dallas, the man who’s been abusing him. Without going into detail, what Harper went through was beyond horrific. He knew he had to get away or be killed. He somehow makes his way to the building he works in several hours before it opens for the day, hoping his boss will help him. He knows going to the police won’t do any good because of his boyfriend’s buddies. His boss is a single mother, and she doesn’t have much, but she immediately takes Harper in and cares for him the best she can. Daniel, Harper’s best friend, does everything he can to convince him to go to the cops, but again, he refuses.
Riley Davenport recently lost his sight. His (soon-to-be-ex) girlfriend Val treats him like a child, even hiding his cane because apparently it embarrasses her. Val was a piece of work. She wouldn’t even let him wear the clothes he wanted to wear, tricking him into wearing colored Polo shirts when that’s never been his style. He finally has enough of Val and dumps her in a funny way. Not funny to Val, but funny to me.
After Val, he needs help, but he fires the helpers sent to him from an agency (the one Harper works for) for silly reasons, the last of which was the woman smelled like his Aunt Loretta… at her funeral. 😉
The opportunity to work for Riley Davenport would be perfect for Harper. It’s a live-in position, which Harper desperately needs because he’s homeless after running from Dallas. With Riley being blind, he wouldn’t be able to see the bruises and other injuries on his body.
The initial meeting doesn’t go well, depending on how you look at it. It was actually quite funny to me, but I’m pretty sure Harper didn’t feel that way. Well, Riley was funny in the beginning. Harper feeling like he lost the job before it ever started, not so much.
Riley eventually allows him inside after a bit of back and forth and a granola bar. Riley does love his food, so learning that Harper could cook was a major plus. They eventually come to an arrangement of sorts, but only because Harper has to lay it on the line how desperate he is for the position.
They fall into a routine of sorts, with Harper able to help Riley in ways others didn’t or couldn’t. Harper has experience (both personally and professionally) with blind people, so he’s a major help without being too pushy like the others (including Val and Riley’s mother) had been.
Riley is hilarious in a lot of places, which was kind of refreshing. He could’ve just shut down when he lost his sight (only a few months before), but he didn’t. Sure, he was frustrated over what he could no longer do, but he kept his humor.
As I said above, the man was seriously obsessed with food, and not the healthy kind either. His love for all things cheesy is legendary, as is his constant want for pizza. It helps that his new helper is one heck of a cook, though that doesn’t stop him from wanting to order pizza several times a week.
I’m with you there, Riley. I’d eat it every day too. 😉
Harper is understandably skittish and a little withdrawn when it comes to his life. All Riley knows about his past is that a ‘roommate’ beat him up and he was homeless before he took the job as Riley’s assistant. It’s quite a bit into the book before it comes out that it was actually a boyfriend, not just a roommate. Riley kind of suspects, but it’s confirmed during a visit to a local coffee shop where a heathen (lol) glitter pen barista puts his number on Harper’s drink. Not just that. He’s suddenly very jealous that another man is giving Harper attention.
I’m annoyed with the glitter barista. Why am I annoyed with the glitter barista?
“If he’s got glitter pens, I bet he’s also got a BeDazzler. I mean, I suppose it’d be a bonus to be reflective in nighttime traffic, but in the daytime you’d be like a prism, blinding people left and right.”
That was really funny, as were a lot of his other little quips here and there.
Things really start coming to a head with regard to Riley’s feelings for Harper during an emotional visit to the apartment Harper shared with the abusive bastard of an ex. Riley wants to comfort him, and not just in a ‘he’s my employee slash friend’ way. He’s never been with a man before. He’s never wanted to be with a man before. But here he is getting jealous over other men giving Riley attention, and wanting to protect him from from anybody who’d dare want to harm him.
It smells like Harper mixed with sweaty gym socks and cheese, but not good cheese, rather old stale cheese. It smells like abusive asshole cheese. Frowning, I set the picture down. This guy is an abomination to cheese. Now I really hate him.
I love how all that came to be; Riley’s coming to terms with his feelings for Harper, I mean. It was a gradual thing. He didn’t just one day wake up and, what do you know? He’s gay. Uh, no. Had it been written like that, I’d likely have DNF’d.
There’s a seriously slow burn as they work toward more than an employer/employee relationship, but that’s mainly with Harper, which is understandable. He’s seeing Riley’s sudden change as him being confused because he’s grateful for the help Harper’s given him. I won’t go into a lot of details of their relationship after they kissed the first time, or this already too long review will end up being much longer. They kiss a lot and touch a lot. Riley knows what, who, he wants and it’s Harper. Harper’s understandably leery for reasons I mention above, and his very recent abusive relationship.
Until I Saw You has some very emotional moments that broke my heart more than once. It also had me cracking up because Riley is hilarious at times,especially when he discovers Harper’s love of smutty gay romance audio books. They even get a dog that was ‘the ugliest dog in existence’ whose name changed daily – Jedidiah, Zeke, Boomer, Eisenhower, Copernicus, Bruce, Russel, Jose, Kevin, Barkus Maximus, Bartholomew, Bogart, and Larry, his original name. ‘Larry’ was funny.
It takes a little while for Harper to realize that what Riley’s feeling is real, not just something that’s temporary because of all that Harper’s done for him. They’re really good together once the other stuff is settled, including a couple of run-ins with Dallas.
I love how the author wrote Riley’s disability. Sure, he had his feeling sorry for himself moments, but he managed to get through a lot of it with his silly humor.
I liked Harper for the most part, and I felt nothing but compassion and sympathy for what he went through. The author didn’t gloss over it either. This was also not one of those ‘I met a man and fell in love, so what do you know? I’m all good now!’ type of books. He’d been physically and sexually abused by the ex. There was no jumping into bed with Riley as if nothing happened.
As much as I liked these guys together – and I really DID like them together – I had a few little niggles with the book.
- It was too long, and I felt that a lot of things were drawn out that probably shouldn’t have been. A lot of it was redundant and detail heavy.
- Something happens later in the book that completely changes everything Riley and Harper had been working for and toward. It’s like a light switch was turned off, and it all just disappeared. While I understand where the author was going with that, I felt that it was too much. It was a violent incident that I don’t think was necessary, nor was all that happened after. I agree that something should’ve happened, but nothing quite so severe. I get that Harper would be hesitant to move forward with anybody after Dallas, but his constant ‘I’m not good enough for Riley, so I’m walking away’ got tiring because it went on for way too many pages.
Until I Saw You has both the very emotional parts, and even funny ones. There’s one scene where the very blind Riley tries to teach Harper how to ride a motorcyle that had me almost laughing out loud. I love how the author was able to mix the two without it being too much either way. I absolutely adored Riley. He’d been dealt a pretty bad hand in life, but he didn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself. Had he done so, it would’ve been understandable. I loved his best friend, Rob, and Daniel, Harper’s best friend. I loved the multi-named dog, though I would’ve liked to have seen more of him. I had nothing but sympathy for Harper, but as I said above, his constant ‘I’m not good enough because I’m damaged goods’ got old. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have felt that way, just that it was too much in the story. It was the constant back and forth that bugged me the most, not that he was actually feeling that way. Every single time I thought things were looking up, he reverted back.
Overall, this is a good book by an author I’ve never read before. I’m already looking forward to one of her upcoming releases, In The Eye of the Beholder, that I’m assuming is Daniel’s story.