Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Rebuilding Year by Kaje Harper

Title:  The Rebuilding Year
Author: Kaje Harper
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Main Characters: John and Ryan
Release Date: March 2012
Publisher: Samhain

Links to Purchase:

Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Losing nearly everything leaves room for the one thing they can’t live without.
A few excruciating minutes pinned in a burning building cost Ryan Ward his job as a firefighter, the easy camaraderie of his coworkers, his girlfriend, and damn near cost him his left leg. Giving up, though, isn’t an option. Compared to the alternative, choosing a new profession, going back to school, and renting a room from the college groundskeeper are simple.
Until he realizes he’s falling in love with his housemate, and things take a turn for the complicated.
John Barrett knows about loss. After moving twice to stay in touch with his kids, he could only watch as his ex-wife whisked them away to California. Offering Ryan a room seems better than rattling around the empty house, but as casual friendship moves to something more, and a firestorm of emotions ignites, the big old house feels like tight quarters.
It’s nothing they can’t learn to navigate, though. But when dead bodies start turning up on campus—and one of the guys is a suspect—their first taste of real love could go up in smoke.
Warning: Contains two hot men wrestling with a shift in their sexuality, as well as a few positions probably listed in the Gay Kama Sutra. But it’s not all about the hot and sweaty—especially when your previously straight life knocks on the door and comes back to visit.

My Review:
There are a couple of indicators that I use to know when a book stands out from all the books that I read. One of those is when I finish the book and immediately want to start over from the beginning and re-read it again...immediately. This book was one of those books for me. I finished it at 1:30 in the morning...and really thought hard about staying up all night to reread it again. This book was that good.

The thing that makes this book so good is it isn't just a romance story. This is a true love story. This book is about the relationship between two guys. At first they are acquaintances and that develops into friendship. When they become roommates, things suddenly start to develop into more. The thing about this though is that neither man has EVER been attracted to another man before. They have both always been completely and totally heterosexual. As their feelings develop, neither man is comfortable with the fact that he is attracted to another man and they each try to analyze it by examining their reactions to other men. This is a phenomena which they realize is special only with this particular man. This is a story about falling in love with the person, not the body. It's a true love story!

While I admittedly love that aspect of the story, it was the one thing that I questioned about the book. Is that truly possible? Personally, I am going with the idea that these guys are both actually bi-sexual. They just never realized it before because they were satisfied with where they were at and who they were with, so the temptation/idea was never planted before. 

And quite honestly, life has changed a LOT for both of these guys. 

John fell in love with his wife when he was 16 years old. They got married when they were 18. He never questioned his love for her until she asked him for a divorce. At the time he was a successful Landscape Architect working for a prestigious company and gave it all up to follow her and his kids around the country so that he could stay close to his kids. That didn't quite work out for him and now he's in Wisconsin. The kids are in California. And now he is working as the groundskeeper on a college campus. He's alone and lonely and working in a situation which makes it difficult to make friends. The professors don't see him as a peer and most of the college kids are way younger than his 37 years.

Ryan spent eight years as a firefighter and paramedic. Simply the nature of his job meant that he had a large circle of friends and a bevy of available willing women. When he was hurt on the job a year ago, it left him without that, horribly scarred, and with a leg that requires him to use a cane. He's come to Wisconsin as a med student and is completely starting over in his life at the age of 30.

The friendship between these two develops very slowly and realistically. They run into each other on campus a few times, then see each other at the local bar a few more times and they slowly start to discover they have a lot in common and truly enjoy spending time together as friends. When things become difficult with Ryan's roommate, John offers to rent him a room in his big sprawling house where he lives alone.

This book was so well-written and developed. I became completely immersed in the story of these guys lives. Even in the beginning when they don't even know each other, I was captivated by the story. This is one of those books that simply makes you feel good to read and there is quite a suspense story line to it that surprised me. The end is extremely climatic and exciting. There's a lot going on here including a lot of confusion and doubt for both of these guys as they question everything they've ever known about themselves. In the midst of all that, there is a mystery on campus, John's teenage kids who are having issues with their new step-father, and the regular issues that come with a new relationship.

I loved the way all the characters interacted as the story developed. There are some absolutely amazing scenes between Ryan and Marcus, John's 15 yo son.

This book was amazing and I can promise you that I will be reading it over and over again!

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