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REVIEW: Sole Support by Kaje Harper

Blurb:
He can find a use for his lover’s hands…except when he needs help the most.

Kellen is short on cash—at least until his first novel starts to sell—but he has plenty of friends. None of them, unfortunately, share his love of books. For that he turns to IM chats with Mike from his online book group.

Though he manages to coax the shy, socially inept pathologist into a real-time meeting, Kellen has no intention of letting his new friend become more than a casual lover. Shaky finances and ailing mother aside, self-sufficiency is Kellen’s prime directive.

Mike considers himself a nerd of the highest order—short, bespectacled, prone to blurting out the wrong thing at the worst possible time. Meeting Kellen face to face is the biggest risk of his life, and he wonders if they’ll get more body parts together than just their faces.

First meeting leads to first date—first everything for Mike—and soon Kellen’s faced with breaking his just-friends-with-benefits rule. Yet as his elderly mother wanders deeper into senility, Kellen wonders if it’s better to lean on Mike rather than fall.

Warning: Contains an emotional love story between a too-proud-for-his-own-good writer with allergy to the L-word, and a painfully shy scientist who takes his sisters’ nagging to “get out there” literally. Oh, and an adorable stray cat.

Dear Kaje Harper:

I enjoyed how slowly the love story between Kellen and Mark developed. There is no Insta!Love in this book. Mark and Kellen are chat buddies on the internet first and they realize that they have a love of reading in common; I felt like they became friends first and lovers second. Yes, your supposed friend on the Internet can turn out to be the creep of the highest order, as Mark thinks about at some point, but the person may become a great friend too (I can certainly relate, having made some friends on the Internet who have become real life friends, not just email friends).

Kaje Harper Sole SupportI easily bought Mark’s not having a boyfriend before because he was so painfully shy and often could say the “wrong” thing in the social conversation. I had more trouble buying Kellen’s not having any serious relationship, only casual sex, before he reached the age of forty. Once he was confronted with his mother’s illness, I could totally understand how he initially did not want to accept help and pushed people away. But I did not think that his backstory was developed enough to explain why he was a loner before the problems with his mom started. I mean, we are told that he is independent person and does not want to lean on anybody, but I did not get from the book that he never wanted a relationship before. Neither had he appeared to be as shy as Mark was, or shy at all. I told myself that I should just file my relative dissatisfaction with that part of Kellen’s characterization under “just because” and moved on.

I was kind of worried when we learned that Kellen was a writer. I am not very fond of mm books that are about an author who writes mm romances because too often they contain many winks towards real life mm writing and I don’t really care for that. Luckily Kellen writes gay mysteries, not mm romances, and more importantly, I at least did not spot many winks, just a few. We learn that writing is very important to him, that it is a part of his personality and I liked that.

On the other hand I would have liked to learn a little bit more about Mark’s job. I thought it was very clear that Mark was a very intelligent guy because of his love of reading if nothing else, but I would have been interested to see just a tiny bit more of him in his professional environment.

I liked how both guys changed a little bit over the course of the book, but did not acquire entire personality transplants. Mark’s painful shyness and Kellen’s stubborn independence are still there when the book is over, but Mark learns to get out of his shell at least with people whom he holds dear and Kellen learns to accept help from those he loves when he really needs it.

I am not always impressed when romance book tackles a serious issue of any kind – not because I do not like it, quite the contrary. I just feel that too often that serious issue is handled very superficially, just to dress romance up and then everything is good and shiny and I am left feeling very annoyed.

I really liked how the topic of Kellen’s mother getting sick was handled and Kellen’s caring for her and having to make tough decisions. I thought it was incredibly well done and while it may have brought the feel of sadness, I really enjoyed the way it was written. I thought it was very realistically done too. Because there is no perfect solution and it is terrible when your loved one is losing himself or herself in their illness. And it does take a toll on the person who chooses to become a caregiver as well.

I was very thankful to see Mark’s sister in the book. I have to admit that this is the first female character in the author’s books that I actually liked (I have not read all of her books, but I have read almost all of them) and who had a bigger presence in the books than just a few lines.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I thought the development of the relationship and problems that characters faced were nicely weaved together and at the end I believed that guys will have a future together. B

~Sirius

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Sirius

Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.

16 Comments

  1. jeayci
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 21:12:29

    Great review, I’m glad you liked it! This is rather different from the usual, isn’t it? :)

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  2. hapax
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 21:47:15

    Shy scientist booklover hero?

    Sold!

    ReplyReply

  3. Kaetrin
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 02:48:44

    I haven’t read all of this author’s work but what I have read I have enjoyed so I will definitely be picking this one up.

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  4. Joy
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:34:12

    I’ve read this and other works by Kaje Harper and I like the other books better. In fact, she has written one of my comfort reads (The Rebuilding Year). While I think this book was really spot-on about the older parent needing caregiving thing, I didn’t feel like I got into the heads/emotions of the characters very well. I didn’t understand Kellen or his motivations in avoiding relationship at all. And Mike was just kind of bland. I just wish the characters had been better developed or more relatable; Harper is capable of it–she is, after all, the only person who I will read gay werewolf romances by and that’s saying something.

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  5. cleo
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 18:52:31

    I enjoyed this book. I bought it based on the review – I needed something to read today for jury duty and it sounded like it’d fit the bill, and it did. I got annoyed with Kellen’s independence and refusal to ask for help – I’m not sure I ever really understood why he had to keep everyone out. I agree that that part of his character didn’t make sense. But I loved Mike, and I loved how he was tough with Kellen when he needed to be. And the ending made me happy.

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  6. Sirus
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 21:44:59

    @Joy: See “Rebuilding year” is without a doubt my least favorite book of hers. Ex wife annoyed me a lot and “gay for you” was way too extreme for me – too magical if that makes sense. I prefer less extreme varieties of that fantasy. I do enjoy her werewolf romances though and her “Dangerous lessons” series.

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  7. Sirus
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 21:46:27

    @cleo: So glad you enjoyed it. I loved the ending too.

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  8. Sirius
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 21:57:36

    @Kaetrin and hapax: I hope it will work for you guys.

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  9. Kaetrin
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 22:02:49

    @Sirius: I love her Life Lessons series and have the first wolf book on the TBR and I enjoyed the Rebuilding Year (not as much as Life Lessons series though), so I fully expect to enjoy this one. She is auto buy for me basically :)

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  10. Sirius
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 22:10:43

    @jeayci: Yep and I liked that – not that I did not like a lot of her usual :)

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  11. Sirius
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 22:14:17

    @Kaetrin: Fingers crossed :)

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  12. jeayci
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 23:39:46

    @Sirius: One of the things I love about her books is that she tries different things. So it’s usual for one of her stories to not be like the others, and I love them all. :)

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  13. NBLibGirl
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 09:58:21

    I like Harper’s writing generally and liked Sole Support for all the same reasons others here have already mentioned: no insta love, ill parent, slightly older H/Hs, nerdy protag who is neither ripped or gorgeous. Real people, dealing with real life. I really liked Mike and his family members and even Kellen’s mom. But Kellen’s reaction to finding himself getting attached to Mike just didn’t work for me. (I think because he so obviously cared about his Mom . . . it is hard for me to imagine a person being that close to his/her Mom, an only child with no other family, and going out of one’s way to not be too close to anyone else/to live the rest of one’s life alone.) So I too recommend the book: Mike makes the book worth the read. It just isn’t quite as strong a read as other books by this author.

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  14. Sirius
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 22:41:29

    @NBLibGirl: Right I did not quite get why Kellen was a loner myself. It still worked for me, but I definitely thought that part needed to be explored more.

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  15. hapax
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 22:42:02

    Finally got around to reading this, and loved loved loved it. Maybe it says TMI about my own issues, but I completely *got* Kellen and his utter terror of permitting himself to “need” anyone.

    Anyways, shy nerdy booklover hero charmed me utterly, but t’other hero — neurotic closed-off anal-retentive control freak — who put this on my DIK shelf.

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  16. Sirius
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 22:38:13

    I am so pleased you liked the book Hapax. About Kelen – it is not that I did not get that he was afraid to let people get close, you know? I get that it happens and actually happened to me too. What I was missing is the “whys” of why he felt that way. Am I making sense? I mean we may be afraid to let people get close to us for different reasons – and when his mom got worse I certainly understood why he felt that way. Before – not really.

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