THE REBUILDING YEAR by Kaje Harper
The Rebuilding Year by Kaje Harper
Reviewed by Cassie
Ryan Ward was a firefighter, but after a bad injury ended his career, he went back to school to become a doctor. As one of the older students on campus, he doesn’t feel like he fits in with his younger classmates, so he’s happy to meet the head groundskeeper, John Barrett. They hit it off right away, and slowly become close enough for John to offer Ryan a room in his house when Ryan’s roommate situation becomes unbearable. At first, it’s great. Then he starts having strange feelings for his new roommate…
John Barrett is pleased to have Ryan at his house. He needs the money to help support the kids he never gets to see, and having company is good. When his feelings start to deepen from friendship into something more, John is thrown off-balance. With suspicious goings-on at the campus throwing suspicion on John, and issues with his children suddenly popping up, John has a lot on his plate.
Will Ryan and John survive their trial by fire together, or will circumstances tear them apart before they even get together?
The Rebuilding Year is a slow-paced, sweet tale of two men who find love in the very last place they would expect it. Both Ryan and John are likeable characters. I loved that they were both older—no barely legal twinks here (not that there’s anything wrong with that…I enjoy those too sometimes!), just two regular guys who have been through a lot in their lives. Despite his injury and the loss of his career, Ryan is moving forward. He doesn’t let his physical issues get him down for long. John has no physical problems, but a lot of family ones. His ex-wife has taken his kids across the country and never sends them to visit. He’s frustrated by that, especially since he moved and took his current job to be closer to his kids. Both he and Ryan are lonely, which helps their friendship form.
Moving in together solves the problem of their loneliness and helps with finances, but it causes new problems. They grow increasingly attached to each other. I really enjoyed the getting-to-know-each-other section of the book. It’s very well-paced. Neither man wants to jump into something, which struck me as realistic given that neither man identifies as gay. Just when it seems like they might be working things out, kid and ex-wife issues and the problems at the campus conspire to make their lives more difficult. The conflicts that ensue didn’t feel contrived, even as they pile up. Everything felt believable, and I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next. The Rebuilding Year is an emotional, sweet, and enjoyable tale with a hint of suspense that spices up the last section. I don’t think I’ve read a Kaje Harper book I didn’t like. At this point, she’s on my auto-buy list.