Hi there! Today I’m reviewing a M/M romance that I just loved. I read Mia Kerick’s YA novel, THE RED SHEET, a few months back, and found her straight-forward storytelling enchanting, so I jumped at the chance to review her newest release–an Adult romance that deals with everything from class differences, to personal insecurity, to hate crimes, and to PTSD. RANDOM ACTS is a contemporary romance that challenges the notion that, well, that shit happens. See, for me, Random Acts is a book about the power of love and kindness in the human experience.
Bradley Zelder can’t find his way in life. After struggling for nearly a decade, he has yet to complete his college degree. Working as a school custodian, living in blue-collar Landsbury, MA, his love life is as empty as the rest of his existence. But on his way home after another disastrous date, his truck breaks down in upscale Oceanside. When he thinks life can’t get any worse, a man who is the epitome of Boston elite and everything Bradley finds attractive and intimidating helps him move his truck to the side of the road. Ashamed of his lot in life, Bradley almost lets the opportunity slip away, but he comes to his senses in time and tracks Caleb down.
From a random act of kindness, romance begins to grow, filling all the dark corners of Bradley’s empty life—until a random act of violence threatens to take it all away. Bradley must step up and be the man Caleb believes him to be. Caleb rescued him from a life without hope. Can Bradley rescue him in return?
Bradley Zelder is a bisexual man, working as an elementary school custodian, when he meets the handsome and very put-together Caleb Jorde. Caleb picks Brad up on the roadside when Brad’s truck breaks down and this is the beginning of a tentative and tender romance.
Caleb is a widower. His husband died three years ago in a car wreck and it took him a long time, and a lot of therapy, to recover. Meeting Brad is exciting to him, in a way he hadn’t been excited since David died. He decides to pursue Brad–seriously. Caleb’s not in for a sex-friend; he’s a relationship kind of guy, and Brad is, too. Unfortunately Brad is a very self-conscious person. He’s constantly afraid that Caleb will look down on him for his lack of education–especially as Caleb is a teacher and very wealthy.
Through the growth of their relationship, Brad begins to see himself in a new light: that of a determined person–one who continues to study for a new career. One who is tenacious and passionate, mostly because this is how Caleb sees him. Being slightly revered by Caleb (who Brad adores to the point of almost worship) gives Brad a sense of confidence he has never had.
Still, doubts creep in, especially when Brad is belittled by Caleb’s co-worker and others at his school. Yet, by making the first tentative steps out of his shell, Brad sets into motion other tiny ripples of change. He helps a young girl find her confidence–who then helps a family heal. Each pingback of change further bolsters Brad’s confidence.
The relationship between Brad and Caleb is slow to build. Caleb is reticent to begin a physical relationship as his only previous lover was David, and they spent 17 years together. It is Brad’s acknowledgement that he is not a replacement for David, nor does he wish to remove David’s memory in any way, which allows Caleb to work through his grief. It seems that all is going to go well with these two, until a Caleb suffers a dramatic setback–of the hate crime variety. Brad is wary, but determined to see Caleb through the worst of his fears–because he developed his own strength from basking in Caleb’s affection.
I really relished the way these men came together. They are cautious and kind. They are respectful, and interesting. This is a quiet romance. The passion is muted, to give way to a textured emotional landscape. Brad and his foul-mouthed working-class family are very different to the genteel Jordes, yet, Caleb meshes well–because he wishes to do so. Brad, himself, wants to be a better man, a partner that Caleb can be proud of–and he later realizes that he already WAS that kind of person in Caleb’s eyes. The mutual support and affection they experience is truly what any couple (gay or straight) would desire and it’s rendered in a way that is at times humorous and horrifying.
Caleb has a lot of injuries to contend with, and not all of them are physical. Brad approaches each uphill battle with compassion and the strength that Caleb lacks. Their growth as a couple is so beautiful. I definitely cheered them on from my side of the screen.
Click the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win
a $25 Starbuck’s GC, a backlist book from Mia
or one of two Random Acts t-shirts
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
Mia has published four works of adult contemporary gay romantic fiction with Dreamspinner Press and four novels of contemporary LGBT fiction with Harmony Ink Press. Mia Kerick’s books are recommended reads in the LGBT blogging/reading community, have spent many weeks on Amazon Hot New Releases and LGBT Best Sellers lists, as well as other notable bestseller lists, and have won awards for excellence in YA literature.