Eighteen-year-old Evan Savage has just learned about his long lost, identical twin brother Brennan. Their parents divorced when they were babies and each parent took a brother. Evan and Brennan grew up never knowing about each other’s existence. Now, however, their mother has died and the boys are finally told their family history. Their father travels a lot for work, so Brennan is moving in with Evan.
Evan had a rough childhood, and although he father did his best, he definitely grew up feeling very alone and isolated. Even at 18, Evan still has a lot of self worth and depression issues. After growing up so alone, Evan doesn’t quite know how to handle suddenly having an identical twin. He can feel a connection between them, but Brennan definitely shakes up Evan’s world and makes him question his whole sense of self. For his part, Brennan grew up happily with their mother, but spent many years caring for her as she suffered from cancer. He has always taken on that caretaker role, and all he wants is to protect and care for Evan and to forge a real connection between them. It takes the twins a little while, but soon they are finding their way and building a real bond between them.
When Evan meets 25-year old Alek, what started as a hookup begins to turn into a real relationship. Alek is a nurturer as well, and Evan begins to open up to him, being more comfortable with his homosexuality and sexual exploration. Brennan begins to find love as well with a boyfriend of his own. And as crazy fate would have it, Alek and Luka are identical twins as well.
As Evan and Brennan both begin to build relationships with their partners, they learn that Alek and Luka have a very non-traditional relationship with each other. The bond between the men is very strong and years ago their emotional connection turned into an occasional sexual relationship as well. As Evan and Brennan find themselves with their own growing attraction to one another, the support of Luka and Alek helps them figure out what they really want. Evan in particular is very unsure about acting on his feelings to Brennan. He feels guilty and worries it is his fault that Brennan is being led astray. But Brennan is determined to forge that connection with Evan and wants him just as much. The twins are finding love with their partners, as well as a deep connection with each other. They just need to have the confidence to meet their own needs and act on what they want, despite their taboo feelings for each other.
Whew. So yep, this is my first foray into incest. Let alone twincest. Let alone DOUBLE TWINCEST! I guess if you are going to sin, might as well sin big, right? So yes, before you read any further, if the idea of brothers getting it on freaks you out, this is probably not the book for you. But if you can move past that, My Brother’s Lover is a really well written, thought provoking story that goes much deeper than its porny premise would suggest.
But before we go too far into the deep and serious, let’s go for the heat, ok? So yes, this book is hot. I mean really hot. Evan and Alek, and Brennan and Luka are super sexy together. Both older men are very sensitive to not pushing their younger lovers too fast, but it doesn’t take long before things heat up with them. Despite his sweet, yoga practicing, nurturing nature, Brennan is kind of a sex fiend, which I loved. It is a nice twist that the seemingly wilder Evan is the tamer one and Brennan is the one who is all about the sex. Luka and Alek are older, and big, brawny guys, so we get lots of sexy times that play off their differences in size and experience with the younger twins.
Of course on top of these relationships, we learn right away that Luka and Alek are sexually involved with one another on occasion. The two have kind of traumatic past together that led to a sexual encounter, and after that they explored it further. The two have been involved since they were late teens, so at this point they are at a place where they are totally comfortable with themselves and their connection to one another. Then as the story develops, we see Evan and Brennan slowly begin a sexual relationship as well. And by the end of the book, we have some action among these guys in a variety of pairings. Now, I am not going to say if this was real life I wouldn’t be all kinds of squicked out. But for a story? Oh yes, this definitely worked for me. Seriously you guys, so hot. There are some themes of exhibitionism here (one of my hot buttons), as well as age differences, menage scenes, and of course, the incest taboo. So this one is all kinds of sexy.
Yet as I said, despite the major focus on sex, this book definitely rises above the twincest premise to a story that is much deeper. Kelling takes the time to really let us get to know these men, and despite dealing with two sets of twins, we get four distinct personalities among them. Alek and Luka have had a rough past, but they have reached a place in their lives where they are happy with themselves and their relationship. They are almost mentors of sorts to Brennan and Evan, who not only are dealing with the reality of suddenly having a twin and the feelings that evokes, but also with the unexpected attraction to one another. On top of that, both have had struggled emotionally — Evan with his depression and self worth problems and Brennan with the loss of his mother. These guys have things to work through, and with the help of each other and their partners, they manage to do a lot of emotional healing.
The backstories on each of these characters really help to define their personalities, and we can understand their motivations and behavior quite well. I think Kelling also does an excellent job of helping us understand how such a thing as sleeping with your brother might happen, and why it works for these guys, while at the same time not trying to justify it too strongly. Their feelings are their feelings, and as readers we can see how they get there, at the same time we just have to accept their unconventional desires. I particularly liked how despite the universal sexual attraction, we can see the distinction between the emotional feelings the twins have for their brothers, but the romantic feelings they have for their boyfriends.
There a couple of small issues here. First off, I found the POV kind of distracting at times. We get the POV of all four men, which was helpful in getting to know them and see what they are thinking. This is especially true as there is a lot of hiding of feelings here as everyone sorts things out emotionally. But at times it almost felt like we were jumping POVs, privy to information that the current POV character wouldn’t know. It was nothing obvious, and it may be my own lack of understanding on the POV style here, but I noticed it multiple times. We also get POVs of side characters that I don’t think was needed, including Evan’s friend and Alek and Luka’s roommates. On top of that, the roommates are having their own relationship issues and we get a side plot involving them. But with four main characters interacting in a variety of combinations, I really didn’t need to follow along with another relationship, especially one that doesn’t really resolve and I really didn’t need all those extra POVs.
So overall I was really impressed with this story. I’ll admit, I went into it for the thrill of the taboo and the promise of lots of sexiness, but I was so pleased to see how much substance there is to this story. Kelling does a great job developing these four characters and the relationships between them. I already have the second book in the series and am really anxious to see where things go for these men. So a great story and one I really enjoyed.