My rating: 4 of 5 stars
He can find a use for his lover’s hands…except when he needs help the most.
Kellen is short on cash—at least until his first novel starts to sell—but he has plenty of friends. None of them, unfortunately, share his love of books. For that he turns to IM chats with Mike from his online book group.
Though he manages to coax the shy, socially inept pathologist into a real-time meeting, Kellen has no intention of letting his new friend become more than a casual lover. Shaky finances and ailing mother aside, self-sufficiency is Kellen’s prime directive.
Mike considers himself a nerd of the highest order—short, bespectacled, prone to blurting out the wrong thing at the worst possible time. Meeting Kellen face to face is the biggest risk of his life, and he wonders if they’ll get more body parts together than just their faces.
First meeting leads to first date—first everything for Mike—and soon Kellen’s faced with breaking his just-friends-with-benefits rule. Yet as his elderly mother wanders deeper into senility, Kellen wonders if it’s better to lean on Mike rather than fall.
So what did I think?
The end result? I really enjoyed this book. But when I first started I thought I would be rating this book on the lower end of the scale. The first 25% or so just didn’t grab me. Thank goodness I persevered because the ending made it all worthwhile.
The reason for my lack of engagement at the beginning of the book was purely based on my feelings towards the characters. The plot had potential and the writing was excellent. I just struggled to warm to both Mike and Kellan.
Mike is the geeky virgin, thirty seven years old but still not completely comfortable in his own skin. He is a scientist who lives with his sister and his reminiscences early in the book include mentions of his sweating problems and squirting acne. I found this quite off-putting!
Mike meets Kellan, his online book buddy, in person and his nervousness and inexperience in dating really comes through. Kellan has a lot more experience and is much more comfortable meeting Mike. Where I struggled with Kellan was understanding why he was interested in Mike in the beginning ie. the initial attraction. They shared a love of books and could easily discuss lots of topics, but why he was romantically interested I wasn’t sure. Particularly as he was running from his family issues and not wanting to really get involved with anyone – his actions seemed to contradict this. It was easier to understand Mike’s desire to be with Kellan as he obviously was desiring a relationship and to lose his virginity and their initial connection (via IM) made it easier for him to move outside his comfort zone.
I found the early sex scenes, and even the kissing scenes, quite uncomfortable to read – I could really feel how embarrassed Mike was in some situations. I usually don’t like older virginal characters but I really liked the way Mike’s situation was handled – he may not have had experience with a man but he sure made sure he was ready! The fact that Kellan, for all his experience, was really turned on my Mike, was also fabulous.
This story is a romance and shows the development of the relationship between Mike and Kellan but it has a powerful accompanying story line concerning Kellan’s mother. An intelligent, wonderful, strong lady who is on a downward slide, losing her mental capability at a fast pace. Her decline is presented in a way that is realistic and painful and it is easy to garner sympathy for both Kellan and his mother.
Much of the drama in the story concerns Kellan’s response to his mother’s plight. He refuses to let people even know about his problems let alone accept any help. In the case of Mike, he is reluctant to bring him into his life, fearing he will become dependent and eventually Mike will have enough and leave. Luckily the need for human comfort eventually wins out.
At times it was difficult to see what Mike was getting out of the relationship. He seemed to be very understanding and giving a lot more than he was getting back, with Kellen being emotionally and physically drained. But for whatever reason he didn’t walk away and fought for his man. “And damned if he would walk away from it, because he wanted his twenty-eight years. Or more, if he could get them.”
The last 25% was probably the highlight of this book and made the journey worthwhile.
It was nice to read a story with a strong theme of family. So often we read of broken families and rejection and not many stories in the genre address the older generation. I was lovely to see a story that spent quality time on an elderly character and had a character who appreciated the sacrifices his mother made and was devoted to caring for her to the end.
For more information on Kaje Harper and her books, visit her website.