After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee....
When my ex walks into the resort bar with his new husband on his arm, I want nothing more than to prove to him that I've moved on. Thankfully, the sexy stranger sitting next to me....
Hagen Wylie has it all figured out. He's going to live in his hometown, be everybody's friend, explore new relationships, and rebuild his life after the horrors of war....
Luca McGrath may be returning to Napa Valley, California, as a promising chef with dreams of starting his own restaurant and winery, but his heart still lives with the bad-boy son of a billionaire....
Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn't do love - not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who's painting the mural....
The night I rescued presumably straight Ethan Harris, I figured that would be the last time I saw him. However, he keeps finding his way back into my life - and into my bed....
Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job - any job - to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin's personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money....
Sergei Andronikov was a child when the Mafia wiped out his family, leaving him with nothing but a hunger for revenge....
Gabriel Wyatt is a big city Detective living in a small Ohio town. He expects a peaceful existence once he moves from Miami, Florida, but that’s the last thing he finds. Instead, Gabe discovers murder, mayhem, and one smart-mouthed stylist he can’t get out of his head....
He promised to never leave me. But when I needed him the most, that was exactly what he did. Wilderness guide Xander Reed has spent fifteen years trying to forget the night....
I left my family and tiny Texas hometown 15 years ago to escape small-town gossips and to give my mom and sister the chance at a better life. But when a phone call....
Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone....
It's not long before the two are so drawn to each other that they tumble into bed - sometimes with Van's camera involved. Their chemistry in and out of the bedroom is undeniable....
"I need you to teach me how to be gay." Logan Moore is finally ready to come out of the closet. His days of playing football are far behind him....
Zack lost his job, his apartment, and his hope, which is why he ends up on the roof of a high-rise, certain that one final step will solve his problems. But a mysterious stranger named Rob happens to be on the roof that night too....
Israel Ingham's life has never been easy. He grew up in a house devoid of love and warmth. Nothing he ever did was good enough. Then a letter from Eastport Children's Hospital....
MA1 Iskander Ayhan's orders are simple: stay with Admiral Dalton's son as his plainclothes bodyguard while he attends university classes....
Mark Hansen thought working as artist’s assistant would be glamorous, especially if that artist was a vampire. Black tie events, witty repartee, gracing the pages of the local style section....
It took losing nearly everything to discover what they can't live without.
A few excruciating minutes pinned under a burning beam cost Ryan Ward his job as a firefighter, the easy camaraderie of his coworkers, his current girlfriend, and damn near cost him his left leg. Giving up, though, wasn't an option. He fought and won the battle back to health, over a painful year. Now, choosing a new profession, going back to school, and renting a room from the college groundskeeper should be 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 his empty house alone. But as casual friendship moves to something more, and emotions heat up, the big old house feels like tight quarters.
It's nothing they can't learn to navigate, until life adds in unhappy teen kids, difficult family members, and mysterious deaths on campus. Rebuilding will be far from easy, even for two guys willing to open their minds, and hearts.
The Rebuilding Year is the first book in Kaje Harper's series. I've owned this book for a while but never found the time to read it, so I jumped at the chance to listen to the audio and I do not regret that decision! Well, except that I would have liked to listen to all three books in the series at once, but instead I ended up buying the next two books so I could finish Ryan and John's story with no long delay!
I loved that this story was about two men older than their 20's. I'm not going to call them "mature" men, because it makes them sound ancient. But, this isn't a story about two 20 year olds. This is about two men who have lived life, life threw them curveballs and they're living a new life. John is a divorced man with two children. He loved and married his childhood sweetheart. Now he fights to get to see his children. He works for a local college and really lives a quiet life. He's very unassuming. Ryan was a firefighter injured on the job, so he's moved on to the next part of his life and has gone back to college to pursue a career in medicine. Ryan is a ladies' man, but since his injury, he has been more reluctant to let someone seem him sans clothes. Ryan liked the adrenaline rush of being a firefighter, and will enjoy it as a doctor. On a day when he's struggling, he meets John who helps him out. And so begins a very, very slow going friendship. These two men are nothing more than acquaintances that see each other on campus. Then they become roommates when Ryan is looking for a place. Then they become friends and way, way, way into this story they become something else.
Something that I liked about this story was that these men were not perfect. John frustrated me regarding his inaction with his kids. He didn't want to make waves so he let his ex-wife dictate everything, even not allowing visitation with lame excuses. And, I know a man exactly like this in real life. It drives me nuts regardless of where it happens. These are your children and while it's important to remain a decent person, they're your children. Maybe John was just beaten down from life, but I kept saying, they're your kids, do something! And though neither man fell into a relationship easily, Ryan's need to keep everything secretive annoyed me. But, that's also what I liked about this story. This was two every day guys that didn't have all the answers and didn't always make the right decisions the first time around. They were real.
The narrator is Gomez Pugh. He did a terrific job bringing this story off the page. His narration had good diction, a good pace, no weird pausing or word uses. The narrator gave each character individual voices and really just brought this story to life for me. The focus of this narration was on the story and characters, as it should be. Though this is the first time I've listened to this narrator, I look forward to hearing more from him!
Even though I have very, very strong feelings regarding stories that leave "cliffhanger" type endings, I didn't hold this ending against the author. It has a HFN type ending. You know the men are together but nothing else is settled in their lives. Plus, I was able to just go ahead and read the next two books without a long wait, so that helps tame my hatred. :) I highly recommend reading this series, and having all books on the ready once you start reading! And do listen to this audio, it's fantastic and one I will relisten to again in the future!
Overall: 5 stars!
Performance: 5 stars!
Story: 5 stars!!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
How important are first impressions?
Ryan Ward knows he hasn’t made a good one on his first day of medical school. Instead of using his cane, vanity caused him to leave it at home, and when his knee gave out, he fell down a flight of stone stairs and hit his head.
He doesn’t lose consciousness but finds himself looking into kind compassionate eyes.
John Barrett is the groundskeeper of the campus and holder of its many secrets. He knows many of the students by sight and keeps a paternal eye on them. Since his wife took their two children (Tori aged twelve and Mark, almost fifteen) from Wisconsin to L.A., this is as close as he comes to being a father.
Doctoring the soon-to-be doctor gives his day some purpose. When the men run into each other a few days later at a pub, they strike up a friendship. When Ryan hits the limit of patience with his partying roommate, John offers to rent him a room in his too-big empty house.
These are both older men, John a bit more so. He might even have a grey hair. But he shares how much he misses his children. Ryan is the second-youngest in a family of 4 boys, doesn’t know much about kids but he does remember the nice things his older brother used to do for him. Ryan shares this advice with John.
Then there’s the night that changes everything.
Men aren’t known for opening up and sharing their feelings, but there is a moment when Ryan and John do exactly that. Both men have survived incidents of profound sorrow. John assures Ryan that it’s not a contest to see whose pain is deeper – because they both have reasons for profound grief. The empathy between the two men is palpable.
So is the kiss an expression of that empathy, a logical extension of their friendship, or something much more profound?
GFY (gay-for-you) is a common trope, but Kaje handles it with the humour and emotion that befits the situation. Neither man planned this – both being straight – and they are coming to this relationship from very different experiences. But there is something undefinably right about them. As always, life gets in the way of a smooth-sailing relationship.
John’s children play an endearing and important role in the book. His ex-wife Cynthia is a bit shrill, but maybe that explains why she left him. The relationship between John and Ryan, of course, becomes an issue with custody. The men’s love for the children was wonderful.
There is one thing that niggled me. There is a subplot that almost felt out-of-place. Just too much. Maybe it’s because I felt the emotions between John and Ryan were so real, the kids so important, that no other crises were needed. It did, however, lead to a very dramatic scene that did move the relationship forward, so I understood why it was included. It also enabled characters to face their fears which is heartening.
I loved these two men, the gentle exploration of what it means to be a man, and why friendship can be the perfect basis for a great romantic relationship.
The book has a happily-ever-after, but I did notice there is a sequel and there will be a Christmas novella soon. My only disappointment is that they aren’t out on audio, but that is a small quibble because I loved the book. A friend introduced me to Kaje’s writing and I’ve been hooked ever since. If you enjoy this book, you will love "Into Deep Waters" and vice versa.
I cannot say enough good things about Gomez Pugh. He is the perfect narrator. Ryan and John’s voices helped me create a picture in my mind and he did great work with the kids and secondary characters. You need to listen to these books.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Ryan is a med student, former fireman who was injured in the line of duty, looking for a cheap place to stay while studying. He meets John on campus where John does the maintenance for the university. John is recently divorced father of two who is looking for a friend and someone to share expenses.
John and Ryan quickly become great friends and find themselves inexplicably attracted to one another as more than friends. Neither has identified as gay before but are suddenly seeing the other as very attractive.
There are a lot of hurdles. Neither is willing to jump into this without being sure of their feelings. Ryan has scars on his body that makes him leery of opening himself up to anyone. John’s wife and family aren’t going to see this as something to embrace. And – there’s a dead body found on campus and John is a suspect!
With a lot of careful movements forward and some deep discussion the couple explore their new feelings and in the end find a deep and abiding love.
This was one of the first mm books I ever read and I have re-read it dozens of times! I absolutely loved it. It’s a double GFY, both male “virgins” and they are so very sweet with each other! Kaje Harper is an amazing writer, she carefully crafts their relationship so that it is believable and romantic and yet full of realistic challenges and day to day hurdles.
I can’t recommend this book enough and I am ever so excited to read the sequel (finally!)!
6 of 5 stars
It’s so funny how different (sometimes) a book can “hit” you when you listen to it rather than read it. This was one of my all time favorite books because it does such a nice job of really exploring “gay for you” and now that I know more about sexuality, I think John is probably more “demisexual” than bi or gay. I think Ryan is probably bisexual – not that any of this matters, but I was noticing how frustrated I got when both men jumped on to the “I’m gay now” bandwagon, when really… they probably aren’t.
In any case, I also noticed how much John annoyed me with his letting Cynthia get away with murder… and how wishy washy he was at times – well – they both were at times…
But… Gomez Pugh is one of those delightful narrators who could read me (probably) any book and I’d at least be entertained if not love it! He’s a great voice actor and really knows how to handle emotions and timing.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this and couldn’t stop once I started.
6 of 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I thought the author told a very good story, did an excellent job of building characters we could like and believe are real. I've lived a life similar in some ways to this story. Neither my husband or I had ever been with another man and both of us had been married, but neither had children. And the children in this story add an important and interesting element. The narration was "spot on", so much so that I forgot there was a narrator. I found it compelling and entertaining.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is truly a five star story. It has it all. Excitement, love, super hot, sizzling sexy times and some suspenseful nail biting scenes.
I've gotten to a point though that I really don't like cliff hanger endings. Since I didn't see anything mentioning that, I thought I would.
I will get the next book in the series when it becomes available because it's just that good, but I'll be quietly fuming about the cliff hanger.
I really like Gomez Pugh as a narrator. I only rated down one star because the voice he used for John was kinda creepy to me. Don't let that put you off though. It's definitely worth a credit.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Fall has finally graced us with its presence where I live, so that means I need to dig out my long-sleeved shirts, figure out where I put all my socks, and try (and fail) to resist all the lovely chocolate being horded in the house. There is also one other important ritual to help me celebrate the death of the horrible all-consuming sun, and the incoming cool weather and rainy days…
My annual rereading of The Rebuilding Year, by Kaje Harper.
There are many Christmas and holiday books out there, but to me, the book that best encapsulates all things Fall, is The Rebuilding Year. Though the book takes place over many months, from fall into winter and spring, there is something about it that always draws me in at the end of each September. It’s probably the pumpkin-guts fight, to be honest. Always wanted to have one of those. The reason why doesn’t matter so much to me, though. It is just the way it draws me in, like a warm cup of coffee on a rainy day, that keeps me coming back year after year. I quite adore the story of Ryan Ward and John Barrett, and I can only hope that you do as well.
This year, however, Kaje Harper has offered up an audio book version for long-time fans to savor and new-comers to discover. Narrated by the wonderful Gomez Pugh, this audio book is everything you loved about the original story but brought to life in such a way that you easily lose yourself in the story like it was the first time all over again.
I’ve been reading m/m for almost a decade now, and I have to say that this romance between John and Ryan is still probably one of my favorites. The book certainly has its flaws–the mystery, while having grown on me after all these years, has never stopped being a bit out of place–but when you are running out of fingers to count the times you have reread a book, I think it is time to admit that maybe what you considered flaws are not so much broken parts of the story, simply the bits that make the story unique enough to remember.
And remember it I do. There are so many parts of this story that stick with me. Especially that first kiss between John and Ryan. Probably my all-time favorite kiss in m/m ever. It was like a thousand times more epic in this audio version as well. Pugh was able to bring to life all that sweet longing and surprise and need in a way that eclipsed whatever had gone on in my head before. And the sex scenes in this book…I think I might have actually blushed while listening to them. I most certainly had to scramble to find my headphones on several occasions since there was no way I could listen to them out loud without dying of embarrassment at the chance my family might hear what I was listening to.
But my favorite parts were the ones where it was quiet and slow; where they simply existed with each other in day to day life. There is just so much love in those moments. Where it is not spoken, but it is felt so deeply even the reader could feel it. This is just one of those books where I am reminded why I fell in love with the genre to begin with.
I honestly can not recommend this book, especially this audio version, enough. And not just because if enough people buy the audio book there is better chance at Kaje Harper agreeing to continue the series in this format. Gomez Pugh brings these characters to life in a way that is truly enthralling, and it was a true pleasure to listen to every second of this book. If you are like me audio books are a rare investment, but I think this one should be at the top of list.
Great story, enthralling listen, amazing romance. Can I have some more, please?
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I really liked this storie .
Narration was top noche .
looking forward to the next one.
This was one of my favorite stories, it encompasses along with the romance a bit of suspense, family conflict and courage. Ryan and John as john’s son Mark said just Fit.
This was a treat to listen to. I really enjoyed this book when I read it and loved the audio version. This story hit all my happy places, older couple, hurt - comfort and a sweet romance that just gets better in Book 2. John and Ryan have been heterosexual all their lives. John was married for 20 years and has 2 kids. He thinks his attraction to Ryan is just friendship and asks him to be his roommate. Ryan is a disabled ex-firefighter with a reputation with the ladies. He is initially resistant to John, but when he goes deep into his feelings, he embraces it. The thing I have always loved about Kaje Harper books is the way her storytelling draws me into these characters and their feelings. This is no different. I could really empathize with the struggle Ryan has and continues to have in Book 2. John seems to accept his new sexuality easier, but his ex-wife, not so much. There is a bit of a mystery intertwined into the story that puts Ryan and John's son in serious danger. But at the heart of this book is a love story. Gomez Pugh gives a wonderful performance in bringing these characters, not just the MC, to life. Highly recommend.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Great narration for a wonderful book! I read this book several years ago and loved it. Sometimes the narration will ruin a really good book...Not this time!! The narrator was spot on. He made a great book even better...Can't wait for the sequel.
This is one of my top 5 MM books and to have it available as an audiobook is just wonderful. It's the best "GFY" story I've read , but calling it a gfy is underestimating the story. It's simply a lovely story about two people starting over and falling in love. You never question for a moment that these two men, who have been "straight" can find something in each other to love. It's realistic and slow burning and hot ( hey what can I say!!) Gomez Hugh does a great job bringing two very human and likeable characters to life.
This is one of my favourite books and to hear it brought to life by the incredible Gomez Pugh is such a treat. I am hoping book 2 will also be released on audio.
I love Kaje Harper, and I have read and loved John and Ryans' books a few times, the stories are well drawn, the characters feel real, in real life situations, and are beautifully drawn. I wasn't sure about Gomez Pugh as the storyteller...he's my Vic and Jacob from the Psycop books, but, much as he brought those fantastic books to life so does he here, and not in a way that has me looking back to those very disparate characters. Well worth a listen and your money.