'Sole Support' by Kaje Harper is a book that I've actually wanted to read for quite a while now but in a way I've also not wanted to read it because of the subject matter. So before I go any further I just want to send my friend Helle over on GR a hug and big thank you for gifting me this book for Christmas and giving me the impetus that I needed to actually read it.
You see 'Sole Support' is not just a story about 2 men meeting and falling in love this is also a story about how you manage that while dealing with one of the most challenging situations a person can encounter. It's about trying to find time to care for an elderly parent whose mental health is failing, support yourself, have a life for yourself and meet someone that you fall in love with even when you don't think you should. Situations that I've had a little personal experience with.
Kellen is an aspiring author with a mother who is proud, independent and whose independence is leaving her more rapidly than either of them are willing to admit. So far in his 40ish years of life Kellen's managed to keep his relationships simple long term means I'll see you on the second Tuesday of next month and no one spends the night...ever. What he wasn't counting on was that changing when he met his on-line friend Mike face to face for the first time. He realized that Mike pushed every button he had in all the right ways, but hey, what's wrong with a little friends with benefits?
Mike's a sweet, oober smart geek who's a bit socially awkward and has never really had an intimate relationship and at 37 years old is more than willing to have this situation remedied. He's only a couple of years younger than Kellen in years but in terms of experience the gap is considerably more and he's more than happy to let Kellen remedy that.
When these two meet for the first time it's adorable and so sweet. Kellen may be a bit of a player but he's not a bad guy. He genuinely likes Mike and he's more than willing to show him how much they can enjoy each other. What he's not willing to do is make promises he can't keep. He's not looking to hurt Mike, but when you keep secrets and aren't willing to share often times that's exactly what happens...someone gets hurt.
There was a lot about this book that I liked. For the most part I liked the relationship between Kellen and Mike. At times Mike seemed to have the patience of a saint, in my opinion, which was a good thing because realistically I don't see how these two would have made it very far into a relationship without one of them being able to suck it up from time to time. Was it fair that it seemed to be Mike most of the time? No, but reality is that's how relationships quite often work. They're give and take and sometimes in order to get through the rough patches one person has to do more giving than taking and while this did frustrate me to a degree it also brought a very realistic feeling to the relationship.
I was very much impressed with the portrayal of the relationship dynamics between Kellen and his mother. Having worked in a nursing home as an HCA (nurse's aide), in community healthcare for a number of years in various capacities and dealing with elderly parents and in-laws of my own I could relate. So often in books we see children portrayed as either perfect saints or abusive asshats when it comes to caring for aged parents but frequently what we see is much closer to what we were given in this story. Children who love their parents trying to do the best they can with a system that often times falls short failing both them and their parents.
Sadly, as we also saw with Kellen, what often happens is that either the child(ren) and/or their parent(s) puts their pride before what is needed to help them during such a difficult time and all that they are really accomplishing is to make things harder than they needed to be.
The main thing that became a bit of an annoyance for me by the end of the book was the fact that Mike and Kellen would often times use sex as their solution for how to avoid an unwanted conversation rather than a way of expressing their love for each other. Not a healthy foundation to start a long-term relationship on guys...just sayin'.
I'm honestly not sure why this story didn't resonate stronger with me but it just didn't. It was a solid read and as I said there was a lot that I liked about it and in general I enjoyed this author's writing style and look forward to reading more of her books.