sole supportRating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novel

Aspiring author Kellen Brodie has been intrigued by his internet friend, Mike, for a while. Even after discovering they live in the same area, Kellen was reluctant to ask Mike to meet face-to face – after all the man seemed to be shy, even skittish at times. And he’d hate to lose the easy friendship they share, a friendship based on a mutual love for gay mystery novels and old movies. But something about that day – the day that Mike made it known that he was gay and possibly even single – had Kellen stepping out on a ledge and asking for a meet up. And he’s glad he did.

Mike Gilliam is terminally shy and introverted, almost to the point of being reclusive if not for his job and his nosey, well-intentioned sister. Agreeing to meet Kellen was a spur of the moment decision, one he questioned right up to the moment he walked into the coffee shop. Who has any real interest in a thirty-seven-year-old virgin? But when he actually meets Kellen, he likes him even more. Agreeing to another date is a no-brainer. But the closer he gets to the man, the more he notices Kellen’s secretive side and his inability to really open up.

An easy friendship turns into a friends-with-benefits relationship complete with Mike’s first sexual experiences. But Kellen cherishes his independence and is determined to keep things casual. He’s never had a serious relationship, nor does he want one – even as his feelings for Mike grow stronger. Add in his ailing mother and his personal financial problems, and Kellen really has no room in his life for any kind of commitment. Mike has never had any sort of relationship and questions every step he takes with Kellen, but the man is coming to mean more to him than he ever thought possible.

When Kellen’s mother takes a turn for the worse, he’s forced to re-evaluate and reorganize his life in order to focus on her. Afraid of the possibility that he might someday take advantage of Mike and his generous heart, and afraid of dragging Mike into his personal problems, Kellen breaks it off with Mike. Now Mike has to decide whether to accept defeat and move on or fight for what he really wants.

Have you ever read a book that not only grabbed you by the heart strings, but also had a personal or sentimental meaning for you? Well, this is one of those books for me. And judging by the acknowledgements before the story, I’d say it’s at least a semi-personal story for this author. This is such a beautiful, well-written, true-to-life story that hit all of my emotional buttons.

Sole Support is the story of a man who is living day to day, struggling taking care of himself and taking care of his aging and ill mother, when he meets a man who gradually changes his outlook on life. It’s a story of opposites attract. Kellen is a pessimistic control freak. He is secretive, stubborn, and extremely independent. Mike is shy and skittish. He’s sweet and giving. Best of all he’s understanding and flexible. They are the perfect balance for one another. Kaje Harper is a master of characterization. And it shows in both of these men. Here is their first meeting, and one of the reasons I adore them so much:

“I really did leave on time. I swear.”

“I don’t doubt it.” And that was the truth, now that Mike was sitting there all flustered in the other seat. Kellen tried a little smile. “What happened?”

“There was a dog. Over on Franklin. I guess it got away from its owner and ran out onto the road. Anyway, the guy coming the other way dodged it, but he clipped my fender and I hit the hydrant. So then the cops came and the tow trucks, and it took forever to get the paperwork straightened out. I don’t think I’ll be at fault. I hope not. Although they may declare my car a loss. And it was way past seven thirty.” Mike dropped his gaze to his hands. “But I figured it was only ten blocks. And you might maybe… if I hurried and the coffee was good or you’d brought a book…” He gritted his teeth and finished, “… still be waiting.”

“You walked ten blocks?”

“I ran ten fucking blocks.” Mike sighed. “I’m a mess. You may not want to sit too close.”

“You look fine to me.” You look hot. Both kinds of hot. Kellen already knew better than to say that.

“I bet I don’t smell fine, though. Shit!” Mike’s face disappeared back between his hands. “I haven’t babbled like this in years.”

It’s not only the main characters that I fell for, but the secondary characters as well. I absolutely love Patrick and Art, a May/December couple. Patrick with his upbeat, positive, fix-everything-and-everyone outlook on life. Art and his big-hearted compassion for those he loves. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping to read their story someday. Then there’s Ricardo, the swishy home nurse. He’s so compassionate and patient. He definitely deserves a happy ending. And finally, Ron, the toppy playboy who is Kellen’s best friend. Seriously, I’m hoping for all of their stories someday.

And this story…it brings tears to my eyes, even now while I’m writing this review. I won’t bore you with the story of my grandmother, but suffice it to say, this tale hits close to home. An elderly mother, memory loss, mini-strokes, and the resulting volatile emotions – this author hits all the major points of Dementia as well as the effects on the family with heartbreaking realism. The pain, the depression, the fears and worries are all there for readers to feel experience alongside the characters. Along with her amazing skills of characterization, Harper is a master storyteller – combining her actual knowledge and experiences with fictional characters in a romance that is so emotional and so beautiful. I’m telling you, I laughed and cried, I was hopeful then cried some more, but I ended the story with a satisfied smile.

I am head over heels for this book, if you couldn’t tell. I always count it a win when I sit down to read a book objectively and it ends up affecting me personally. Sole Support is a story of unexpected love, compromise, and the unconditional support and care of loved ones especially in hard times. I’ve loved every one of Harper’s books that I’ve picked up and I am looking forward to whatever she has coming up next. I highly recommend Sole Support by Kaje Harper.

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