Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share my review for THE ART OF HERO WORSHIP a contemporary M/M romance from Mia Kerick. This is the first New Adult novel I’ve read from Ms. Kerick and I was definitely pleased.
Catch my review and get in on the $25 Amazon GC giveaway below.
About the book:
Trembling on the floor, pressed beneath a row of seats in a dark theater, college freshman Jason Tripp listens to the terrifying sound of gunshots, as an unknown shooter moves methodically through the theater, randomly murdering men, women, and children attending a student performance of Hamlet. Junior Liam Norcross drapes his massive body on top of Jason, sheltering the younger man from the deathly hail of bullets, risking his life willingly, and maybe even eagerly.
As a result of the shared horror, an extraordinary bond forms between the two young men, which causes discomfort for family and friends, as well as for Jason and Liam, themselves. And added to the challenge of two previously “straight” men falling into a same-sex love, are the complications that arise from the abundance of secrets Liam holds with regard to a past family tragedy. The fledgling passion between the men seems bound to fade away into the darkness from which it emerged.
Jason, however, is inexplicably called to rescue his hero in return, by delving into Liam’s shady past and uncovering the mystery that compels the older man to act as the college town’s selfless savior.
The Art of Hero Worship takes the reader on a voyage from the dark and chilling chaos that accompanies a mass shooting to the thrill of an unexpected and sensual romance.
How about a little taste?
No, I’m not even remotely safe. But thankfully I play dead far better than my dog did when I taught him that trick at the age of seven.
The shots are earsplitting and getting louder because the shooter’s heading our way. I’m so fucking scared I’m trembling violently, but I promised the guy lying on top of me that I’d stay still. I concentrate on taking short shallow breaths, one after another, in my effort to stop trembling. To stay frozen—like I’ve been since I pulled Ginny to the floor and promptly let go of her hand so I could curl up into a tight fetal ball.
Somebody near me sits up, scrambles to his knees, and impulsively crawls toward the far aisle.
“Bang, bang… you’re dead.” The voice comes from directly above me; it’s blank and monotone and controlled. The weird snicker that follows is chilling. I want nothing more than to throw the big guy off my back and run like hell toward the double doors, but I just keep on going with the short breaths and stay as still as I’ve ever been in my life. Even in my terrified state, I know that the guy on top of me is totally exposed and I can’t move because I’ll cheat him out of his life, for sure. Which is so not cool when he’s trying to save mine.
I smell blood. Never noticed the smell of blood before. It reminds me of Grandma’s penny collection… if it got spilled onto the sticky floor of the theater. The scent of old copper is everywhere… like wet pennies strewn all around me on the floor.
Shooter’s right above us now. Don’t move… don’t move… don’t move….
“Dear God, help us!” This request seems to catch the shooter’s attention and he turns around and steps away from us. I curse myself for feeling as relieved, and maybe even glad, as I do.
We wait and it seems like forever. We wait as voices beg and plead and pray and he shuts them up with bullets. We wait as the sound of shots moves to the front left near the exit, where I figure he’s shooting at anyone who tries to get out through the double doors.
And then, for a second, it’s quiet.
“Now….” The big guy’s voice is whispering but it seems to blast into my left ear. “We have to make our move now.” Before I agree, the heaviness of his body lifts and I feel cold and exposed. “This is our chance to get outta here….”
His hand is attached to the back of my wrist, clutching me so hard that I know I’ll have fingerprint bruises for a week… if I live so long.
College freshman Jase and his bestie/newly ex-girlfriend Ginny are at a Hamlet play when a shooter opens fire on the audience. Ginny is killed instantly and Jase is immobile with fear, sure that the shooter will get him soon. Then, a burly fellow student not only covers him with his body, he pulls Jase to safety. Liam, his rescuer, is a junior, and knew the shooter through mutual classes. As the boys flee the scene, they hope that he danger is behind them.
Not so much. While the police attempt to ascertain if Liam and Jase were involved in the shooting, they keep these two sequestered–for their own protection. Jase is terrified by flashbacks and cannot rest, cannot stop reliving his fear, and his failure to help Ginny. Liam is a patient and stalwart companion. Neither Liam nor Jase have ever had experiences with men before, but their shared horror and shock meld them in ways they had never predicted. The comfort that Liam provides Jase is only temporary, however.
Jase leaves school before the end of term, without even saying goodbye to Liam. He’s haunted by visions of the shooter, and sinks into deep depression, having PTSD-like panic attacks in his stifling home with his “s”mother. Then, Liam calls. Invites him for a weekend escape, and Jase feels compelled to go. This man saved him, twice, actually. And in those shared nights they find a new normal within their closeness. It’s exactly the break Jase needs to get him to start over–but he’s now freaked out about his feelings for Liam. Both men profess they aren’t gay, have never had attraction or interest for men before–but they are certainly into pleasing each other.
For Liam, it’s about protecting Jase, giving him attention, and receiving love and admiration in return. For Jase, he craves the strength, security and devotion he experiences from Liam. Each of these men needs to come to terms with their past–Jase suffers for months from the aftermath of the shootings. Liam’s damage extends farther, deep into his dysfunctional childhood and a tragedy that forever scarred his family. Together, they are strong and loving, but can Jase bear it if Liam continues to strive and save everyone?
I really enjoyed the deep probing that Jase does into his psyche in this one. The story is told from his POV and he’s understandably wrecked in the head after enduring so much tragedy. He can’t cope, but being near strong and sturdy Liam helps him to survive the crushing guilt. That Liam’s been dealing with his own survivor’s guilt for the better part of a decade makes him a compassionate partner, but he’s also suffering a hero complex, and it makes him more reckless than Jase can endure.
I’ve read some accounts of shooting survivors, and the physical and psychological aftermath is frightening. I felt that same guilt/fear/haunted/PTSD experience in this book, in a way that was completely accessible. Jase is continually assessing whether he and Liam are together because of their shared pain, and he decides that’s likely true, but not a problem. His worship, and later love, of Liam is strong enough to bind them into the future. There’s a bit of sexytimes, but that’s never the focus. Instead it’s the closeness, the protectiveness, the ownership, if you will, that’s developing between Jase and Liam which makes this a passionate book.
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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-two 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 people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy 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, Harmony Ink Press, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.
Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially 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.