Chase Hansen. Broke. College drop out. Male stripper.
My life wasn’t at all what I imagined it would be. I should have been finishing up college, interning with a well-respected business, partying with my friends. But instead, I was raising my seventeen year old brother, struggling to make ends meet. Love wasn’t even on my radar. Besides, what did I have to offer? A few crumpled singles pulled from my G-string? Defeated and exhausted, I knew I had zero chance of finding someone to love me just as I am.
Noah Carpenter. Angry. Betrayed. Doctor.
Just when I thought my life was going exactly as it should, everything turned upside down. With my final rotation in medical school complete, I finally achieved my lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. What I never expected was to catch the man of my dreams in our bed with the man of his. Beyond infuriated, I struggled to piece together the remnants of my life. Just when I’d decided to give up on love altogether, I found a man who loved me just as I am.
Cover design: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pear Creative Covers
Photography: Christopher John at CJC Photography
Models: Sam Wiles and Aaron Michael Bell
Chase Hansen and Noah Carpenter had to face circumstances in their life that changed the dynamics of who they were and what they wanted, and I think that it would be safe to say that neither of them was prepared to be thrown off the course they felt their lives were headed, and as they attempt to pick up the pieces, it’s abundantly clear that they feel defeated and hopeless and wonder if they’ll ever have a significant other who stands by them and loves them as they are.
Because of the death of his parents, Chase Hansen had to make sacrifices in order to be his younger brother’s guardian, and while he doesn’t blame Benny for how different his life had to be, Chase can’t seem to find even a small amount of personal happiness, and it’s this defeatist mentality that sends him spiraling and stripping in order to make ends meet. What the change in his life’s direction also does is make him feel even more alone and unworthy.
Noah Carpenter thought he had it all – the career of his dreams, a long-term boyfriend, and a life he thoroughly enjoyed, but with one act of betrayal, his ‘ideal’ life comes crashing down, and he finds himself giving up on the idea of love and everything that comes with it.
But as much as circumstances occur that force people to reevaluate and redefine their lives, life can also guide them towards an unexpected opportunity, which is exactly what happens when Noah heads to Chase’s place of employment and finds himself unable to take his eyes off a certain male dancer, reigniting a desire that he thought he would never get back and giving him a new path to follow – one that might just allow him to be himself and be loved for everything he is and not disliked for what he can’t provide or what someone else finds lacking about him.
Chase and Noah want so desperately to be loved and accepted, which is completely understandable, but for this very reason, they seem to get caught up in their baggage too often, resulting in extremely immature actions and reactions, which also made it feel like they were fighting more than they were building a solid relationship. A part of me understands why Chase and Noah were so guarded…Chase doesn’t have any experience of being in a relationship and for the most part, he was still ‘in the closet.’ Also, because Noah was burned by his long-term boyfriend, he has every right to be cautious, but I think they lost sight too quickly of what ‘could be’ between them, making them be reactive instead of proactive.
Despite the fact that I was frustrated with how extreme Chase and Noah took things when they were upset with one another, I still very much enjoyed As I Am. Chase and Noah’s respective journeys as well as the one they take as a couple are extremely relatable because there isn’t a person on this Earth who doesn’t want others to see them for who they are and not for who the other people want that person to be. And as difficult as it was for Chase, he does right by his brother and their relationship grows, which is something that both of them needed to have happen.
The coincidences or fateful events that occur in the book illustrate just how much everyone is connected and how those same situations can be a catalyst of change at some point in the future, and I really enjoyed how Melissa Collins handled Chase and Noah’s ‘connection’ and how it clearly redefined their lives.
As I Am is both a heartbreaking and heartwarming story about people’s need to be accepted -not only by other people but also by themselves, because it’s pretty much impossible for others to understand and accept all that someone is without them doing so first, which I think was a big part of the miscommunication and lack of understanding that occurred in the story.
4.5 Poison Apples
Join me on Facebook for a $50 Amazon gift card giveaway!
Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.
Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.