Author: Kaje Harper
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Lirtle’s Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Teresa’s Rating: 4.75 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 06/09/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Bisexual, Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance
Finding love in the ashes was easy. Building a life together? Don’t make Fate laugh.
The Rebuilding Year, Book 2
After spending the first part of his life chasing pretty girls, love has finally come to Ryan in the form of John, a tall, lanky, red-headed landscape architect with wide shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow.
For the first time in his life, love feels easy. Hell, he even ran into a burning building for John and his son, and he’d do it again if he had to. But telling his father and brothers “I’m gay. I’ve met a man”? That’s a bumpy ride he’s not looking forward to.
For John, loving Ryan is as natural as breathing. Now if only the rest of his life would fall into place. Dealing with his teen son is complicated enough, but with his ex-wife causing trouble and his daughter wanting to move in, John’s house—and his relationship with Ryan—threaten to split at the seams.
Would one month without a new surprise knocking him upside the heart be asking too much? If the sound of Fate’s laughter is any indication, the answer must be yes…
”What you made me,” he said softly, “was happy. When I wasn’t sure I would ever be again. Gay or straight doesn’t mean anything, compared to that.”
Ryan’s voice was equally low. “I’d kiss you but you have paint all over you. Go get changed.”
This exchange pretty much sums up this book for me, this sequel to one of my all-time favorites by Kaje Harper, The Rebuilding Year: a wonderful love story between John and Ryan, with family dynamics a constant companion, a heavy hand at times in regards to social commentary by way of conversation, realistic emotion and dialogue, humor, and the comfortable pace that underlies it all.
That could pretty much be my review but I’ll give you a bit more to go on. 🙂
John and Ryan are not necessarily trying to figure out their own identities, or how they are together, but rather how to cope with the outside world’s reactions to them, and their perception of those, and vice versa. In other words, it’s not just expressing their love to the outside world, but how they feel about sharing it out there for everyone to see. This idea runs through all storylines of the book: John’s ex, Cynthia, Ryan’s father and brothers, their shared friends, John’s kids, Mark and Torey (who are fantastically portrayed), and how it all affects this obvious bone deep love John and Ryan are experiencing.
There were some oft repeated phrases and descriptions. A few of them actually worked against the story, watering down what was probably the intended impact. As I was reading, and as you’ll find out too, John is strong, as is Ryan, in many ways. However, so many times it was mentioned that John placed his hand on Ryan’s lower back, or under his elbow for support. I understand why but I think leaving it implied or described with a reaction as opposed to the action itself would have been more powerful.
This is regular ol’ fiction about family and love and insecurities, overcoming those insecurities, the imperfections we all carry, some of them inescapable, some of them surmountable. Yep, there’s a love story here, but it’s one component, not the whole. Yep, we get intimate times twixt John and Ryan, but they aren’t necessarily the focus. I’d say the focus is more on the continuation of the building of their relationship, how family is a part of that, and not, and them figuring out how to navigate this new world they’re creating for themselves. On this particular point, I would almost say another book is necessary. For as much as we get about their relationship, it’s relayed through the prism of how John and Ryan think others will view them. I now want more of how they view each other, having been in this relationship for awhile.
John and Ryan have that solid foundation, that’s the one thing about which no doubt can be cast.
I mentioned above about the sometimes heavy handed feeling regarding some of the social issues addressed, most of the time revealed through the conversations between the characters. Most of the time, Harper’s dialogue reads like real conversation, fluid and natural, tinged with humor or sadness that rings so true. The few times it felt off involved what felt like an informational offering instead of people talking. It’s not that these things shouldn’t be included, they’re all important, and maybe it is an unavoidable thing, that they would sometimes pull me from the story, I don’t really know, but there it is.
I love Kaje Harper’s writing – smooth, relaxed, humorous -, I loved spending more time with John and Ryan, and even the kids (yep, can’t believe I’m saying that, either), and I recommend you giving this a try. Start with The Rebuilding Year and go right into this one, you’ll be so happy to spend all of that time with John and Ryan, too. 🙂
What a wonderful sequel to The Rebuilding Year! There are a lot of issues tackled in this book: homophobia, jealousy, children, disabilities, sex, and coming out. All are handled with a deft hand woven in with laughter and love.
I loved how real all the characters felt. No one was perfect, but they all had dimension. John was kind and caring to a fault, Ryan was loyal and supportive but had a jealous streak, Torey and Mark acted their ages. John and Ryan were there for each other every time it mattered though and the children are put first.
I appreciated that there wasn’t a big misunderstanding that forced them apart. This is more a story of adapting to adverse situations and staying strong, not that they don’t argue or disagree. However, they do it like adults, and the make-up sex… hot!
In the end, Life, Some Assembly Required is a wonderful story about family. I highly recommend this.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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