Author ~ Ki Brightly
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 27th January 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.
Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.
Although some horrible things happen during the course of the book, it is, in essence, a sweet love story.
Jeb has had a terrible life and has been screwed over, and over, and over. He’s lost his hearing thanks to the actions of an evil monster then spent years in the hands of another, who might have spoiled him but never let him forget who and what he was.
Now, he’s reclaimed his life and gone back to school, where he meets Freddy. Freddy is very different, an all-American kind of guy with a big smile, and deaf best friends and parents. He’s totally unfazed by Jeb’s disability, and by his hot-cold attitude which he soon realizes is fuelled by fear – fear of trusting that Freddy is, in fact, as nice as he seems.
Jeb finally settles down but life isn’t about to let him find happiness without a fight.
Jeb and Freddy’s story is bumpy but heartwarming, as Freddy slowly teases Jeb out of his shell and shows him that there really are good guys out there. His unfailing support helps Jeb face his demons, and ultimately defeat them, although it almost kills both of them.
There are probably triggers in this book, but I don’t have much time for them. Writing is meant to challenge.
The story progresses at a fluid pace with the relationship evolving in a natural manner with pitfalls and hurdles that stop short of angst but have definite tension. The storyline also progresses to an explosive climax that shocks but definitely entertains.
On the whole, the grammar, characterization, story arcs and pace are very good. In particular, I liked the fact that transitions between different scenes/chapters or from slow pace to action were smooth and exciting but not jarring.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It’s not “fluffy bunny” romance. It has meat on its bones while still remaining true to a solid romantic plot that takes Jeb and Freddy on a journey of discovery, not just about themselves but many other things, like the trials of a disabled (here deaf) person at a mainstream college. It also highlights something I am personally well aware of – that some people who work with/come across people with special needs in a professional capacity really shouldn’t be allowed near them.
The book solidly earns its four stars.
Connect with Ki Brightly
Ki Brightly lives and works in Erie, PA. Ki takes on more projects than are probably healthy, beach bums during the summer months, and spends time with family whenever possible.