Author ~ Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 7th November 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Kyle Green is on top of the world. He and Matt have been together for ten years, and—as the voice of Ecos, the wildly popular anime character—Kyle is treated like a rock star in anime circles. But in an instant, a stroke leaves him blind. When photographer Matt gets the opportunity of a lifetime, Kyle reexamines their relationship, discovers it has been a safety net rather than a true romance, and sets Matt free to pursue his dream. Kyle’s life and career as he knew them are gone, and he must now find the courage and creativity to draft a new plan.
After being away for fifteen years, Seth Caplan comes home to Chicago to care for his mother and to partner with a small start-up tech company. He and Kyle meet after Kyle’s collision with a child’s sidewalk toy, and they hit it off. Kyle wants to get back into running, and Seth becomes his guide. As they get to know each other, they start seeing each other beyond their three-times-a-week runs. But Seth’s revelation of the dark reason why he left his career in California sends the relationship into a tailspin and leaves both men running blind.
While the blurb indicates the potential for a lot of angst and drama, this book is surprisingly low on that scale. There was a lot of good in this book, including the writing and the characters. I was intrigued by Kyle’s medical condition as Riddoch syndrome was something I had never heard of and I enjoyed Kyle’s journey adapting to his new life, unfortunately the romance aspect of the story didn’t work all that well for me.
The authors waste no time getting into the story. We meet Kyle and his longtime boyfriend Matt as they are starting their day and heading out to work as usual, but later that day Kyle lays down for a nap to get rid of his headache and then wakes up in the hospital. The details of his weeks in the hospital and then even more time in rehab are not the focus of the story and most of that passes with little mention. The focus is on Kyle not only starting over his life as a blind man, but starting it over as a single man after breaking it off with his best friend and lover Matt.
I liked the way the authors handled things between Kyle and Matt. Everything is very adult, no evil ex or horrible breakup storyline. Matt and Kyle have known each other half their lives and spent a good part of it as a couple and their friendship is something that is a big part of both of their lives and not something easily thrown away.
When Seth enters the picture, Kyle has made great strides in adapting to his visual impairment, but is still struggling with the impact on his career and his day-to-day life. He is not wallowing in pity, but has his moments where it all seems too much. For the most part though, I found him to be an optimistic character who is willing to push himself and make the best of the hand he has been dealt, but just needs an occasional pep talk or a push to remind him of who he really is deep down inside away from the blindness.
Seth has recently returned to Chicago after having been in California working as an attorney. He comes upon Kyle as they are both out running and Kyle literally runs into a problem. The two chat briefly and it’s not until a few weeks later that they meet again when Seth shows up as a prospective running guide for Kyle. They start off just meeting for runs, but soon start up a real friendship. It’s not until Kyle’s meddling sister Lily gets involved though that they start to explore a possible relationship.
Speaking of Kyle’s sister Lily, she has as big a part as Seth in this story, if not bigger. She is Kyle’s caretaker when he gets out of the hospital and spends most of her time with him. Even when she moves out, she still works out of his house and assists him with his work. Generally I despise meddling family members, but Lily fell just short of annoying for me. She was supportive and caring for the most part, but was way too pushy when it came to Kyle’s love life.
There is a super slow build up to the two men getting together. Seth doesn’t first appear on page until about 25% into the story and then the two agree to take things slowly, which makes absolute sense. Kyle isn’t ready to jump into anything and Seth has his own worries and secrets to deal with as well. The problem I had is that although there are plenty of sweet scenes between Seth and Kyle and plenty of fun banter, I didn’t feel the sexual chemistry between them. For me they made great friends, but I didn’t feel the passion and UST that they talked about having. I felt the relationship showed a lot of what we heard Kyle’s life with Matt was like, friends who love each other without that spark.
While the romance aspect of the story didn’t work that well for me, the rest of the book did. The friendship Kyle and Seth build was lovely and the way Seth deals with Kyle adapting to his disability did have me rooting for them to get their act together. Seeing Kyle find ways to dive back into a job that had him relying on his eyesight was inspiring even as he realizes more and more that his true love of voice over work for animation was likely to be over for good. Seeing him navigate the Cons he once loved and hearing the clamoring of the fans that still adore him was bittersweet, but there is a fantastic HEA in this story that had me smiling.
Although I wasn’t knocked off my feet with the romance, I think others will be. Despite that, I did find the story to be enjoyable and uplifting (and in my case educational) and was glad to have read it.