Review: The Rebuilding Year by Kaje Harper

Review: The Rebuilding Year by Kaje Harperon March 6th, 2012
Pages: 323 pages
Amazon • (Website, Facebook, Goodreads)
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.

This is one of the few double GFY books that I have read so far but I enjoyed this one almost as much as Faith & Fidelity, not quite though.

this book featured John Barrett, a divorcee, who had moved around a bit, in an effort to keep close to his ex-wife and kids. He finally settled in Wisconsin where he took work as the groundkeeper at a College.

He became friends with an older student, 1st med student Ryan Ward, after John found Ryan on the floor when Ryan’s leg had given out. See Ryan was formerly a firefighter, but an injury had almost cost him his leg, and left a bunch of scars physically and emotionally. He was rebuilding his life by going to Med School and hoping to reinvent himself.

Ryan and John built an easy friendship and eventually became roommates. Soon, their comfort level and routine led to an attraction, and during an emotional moment, they acted on that attraction and kissed.
The kiss freaked them out because they were both straight and even so, why mess up a great friendship with a complication like sex?

Ryan and John agreed to chalk up the kiss as a one-time response to an emotional period, and they would go back to just being best friends and roommates, but is it possible to ignore such an attraction? Is it physical or could it be more? Are they even strong enough to put with what it would mean to be 30-something year old bisexual/gay men? Ryan and John really had to dig deep to answer those questions for themselves.

I really enjoyed the fact that first there was a solid friendship and mutual respect. I also enjoyed the support they gave each other regarding school/work and personal life. I love how Kaje Harper writes her characters because they are flawed, yet they are characters you could empathize with. The scenarios are realistic, for example, I love how the characters admit to being clueless on what to do together. Being clueless and even uncomfortable with labels, gay or bisexual, lover or boyfriend, hold or don’t hold hands. It was uncharted territory and the author let us walk it with them. I did feel that John was a lot more accepting of this new reality when he was the older guy (37yr old). I thought he would be more afraid of reactions, but I guess he was so lonely and/or comfortable with himself that he didn’t care.

I also loved how Ryan took to John’s kids immediately, even serving as a voice of reason when John wasn’t thinking straight. It was a good blended family and the story worked for me.

About Kaje Harper

I live in Minnesota, where the two seasons are Snow-removal and Road-repair, the mosquito is the state bird, and where sometimes in winter it can be breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, the deepfreeze chill contributes to the breath-taking, but Minnesota’s a kindly, quiet place and it’s home to me now. I’ve been writing for far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty years*), mostly for my own entertainment, and currently am focused on M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, history, SciFi…) I also have a few Young Adult stories released under the pen name Kira Harp.

My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. My husband finally convinced me that after all that time writing, I really should submit something, somewhere. I was thrilled when it was accepted. I have a weakness for closeted cops with honest hearts, and teachers who speak their minds, and I had fun writing the four novels and three freebie short stories in the series. I’ve been just delighted by the reception Mac and Tony have received.

My first free book became the first story that I actually released – I put it up a month before Life Lessons just for the fun of getting it out there. Lies and Consequences began as a reaction to the November 2010 election. It looked like the repeal of DADT might be derailed by the political shift and I put the insanity of that law into the book. Then as I was finishing the first draft in mid-December the repeal passed. Which was great, but prompted a rewrite to a lighter and more action/romance book. This was a solo effort and I learned a lot from writing and releasing it and from the reviews. Check Smashwords for that one and many of my other freebies.

I now have a decent backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published. A complete list with links can be found on my Books page. This writing thing is addictive. So read, comment, tell me what you like and what you don’t, and help me make the upcoming books even better. I have an author page on Goodreads where I do a lot of book reviews, and this blog is reposted there.

You can find me to chat on my author page on Goodreads most easily – I hang out on Goodreads a lot because I moderate the Goodreads YA LGBT Books group there. I also post free short YA stories on that group, more than 50 of them so far.

You can also email me : kajeharper ~at~ yahoo ~dot~ com or find me on Facebook –