Lost Soul Review & Spotlight ~ Heart-wrenching story … 10 out of 10!

Title: Lost Soul: AJ’s Burden
Series: Healing Hearts #4
Author: Nicky James
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: October 22, 2017

Reviewed by Elaine

Cover Art:  The cover is dark, black in color, with a filthy, derelict appearing young man in worn, dirty clothing.  Scattered beneath him is the evidence of his drug abuse; pills, needle, syringe and assorted paraphernalia.

Healing Hearts #4 appears on the cover signifying this is in a series.  The young man clearly is AJ, he even carries the defensive attitude on his face.  This cover portrays the nasty, insidious disease that is drug addiction.

Synopsis: There is a note to the readers which contains a trigger warning for addiction, on page drug abuse, and drug withdrawal.  Included is a phone number for substance abuse/mental health helpline.

The synopsis itself is a little long but draws you into the story regardless.

Main Characters:  AJ Silva, 29 years old, unemployed

    Trystain Larsson, 34 years old, construction worker and volunteer at Blue Haven

In the vivid and brutally descriptive prologue we meet AJ in the middle of a bad trip, see the damage done to his body from chronic drug use, hear his chaotic thoughts and self-recriminations.  We meet Trystain immediately after, and again Nicky’s writing portrays Trystain’s inner strength and innate goodness within a few short pages.

Secondary Characters:  Blake, as Trystain’s sponsor and good friend, plays a significant role in the story.  He saved Trystain’s life and will always play an essential part in his future.

Plot:  AJ is an addict, but has not yet found his rock bottom.  Trystain crashed into his own five years ago.  Can he be what AJ needs to battle his demons?  What of his own secrets?   We see several small plot twists, including touching on co-occurring disorders.

Flow/Continuity:  The pacing is good, and there is nothing that takes me out of the story or interferes with continuity.

Conflict and Climax:  Drug addiction will always be an uphill battle that its victims will fight all their lives.  We see the typical types of conflicts on the way to sobriety; plus a few personal demons along the way from both our main characters.

Writing Style:  The book is written in alternating first-person points of view.

Editing:  There were no editing issues found.

Formatting:  Scene changes are signaled with asterisks in between, chapters are clearly marked, and internal dialogues and hallucinations are written in italics.

Conclusion:  As always, when reading this author’s works, she rips your heart out of your chest with the depth of emotion in her work.  It feels as if you are in the character’s world living it with them.  The withdrawal scenes were not as horrific as I had envisioned, focusing more on AJ’s mental health than the physical withdrawal symptoms themselves.  One thing you can count on from this author, she will patch your heart back up again when she is done stomping all over it.  I love angst-heavy books, and this author is truly outstanding in her craft.

I give this book a heart wrenching 10 out of 10.

What does rock bottom look like to you?


AJ Silva is about to find out. His life has been spiralling the drain for the past year, and if he doesn’t find a way out soon, he may die on the streets of San Francisco. Drowning in a severe drug addiction, battling every day to survive, AJ doesn’t know where to turn. His past haunts him in more ways than one, and leaves him both grasping and begging for change, while fearing his future. All AJ knows how to do is chase one problem away with another. How can you win the war, when your enemy is yourself?


Trystain Larsson is an addict. Five years ago, he discovered rock bottom first hand. Since that dreaded day, he’s worked his recovery with everything he has. Helping others who’ve fallen victim to drugs gives him hope for a better tomorrow. If he can save even one person from that life, it will mean victory.
When AJ lands at his doorstep, Trystain gets more than he bargained for. Not only is AJ at the end of his rope, but there is something darker going on.
Coming off drugs is not an easy task, and with AJ, Trystain has his work cut out for him. During their time together, a bond that goes deeper than friendship grows.
Will mistakes from the past be barriers for the future? It’s hard to move forward, when you can’t stop looking back. 
**TRIGGERS** For significant on-page drug use. Addiction and withdrawal.

Nicky James lives in the small town of Petrolia, Ontario, Canada. She is mother to a wonderful teenage boy and wife to a truly supportive and understanding husband who, thankfully, doesn’t think her crazy.

Nicky has always had two profound dreams in life; to fall back hundreds of years in time and live in a simpler world and to write novels. Since only one of those dreams was a possibility, she decided to make the other come alive on paper.
Nicky writes MM romance books in a variety of styles including contemporary, medieval, fantasy, and historical.


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