Kelly Phillips is coaching his best friend Jared for a triathlon. They discover that the victory is not guaranteed when William Townson makes his prowess on the track, in the pool, and on a bike known. Being united against a common foe is short lived when Kelly comes out to Jared, who turns out to not only be homophobic, but also has racist tendencies. Despondent over the loss of his best friend, Kelly befriends his former foe, William, and the two become inseparable.
As their relationship grows, their opposite personalities come into focus. Kelly is no-nonsense and stands up for himself, while William, the nice, timid, non-confrontational one shows that sometimes opposites may attract, but not necessarily stick. Their opposing views on so many issues slowly drive a wedge in their relationship, which culminates in what is sure to be the last argument, except that Kelly knows which buttons to push and William reaches the tipping point. Unfortunately, William’s anger causes them to be in an accident, which leaves Kelly an amputee, all hope of an Olympic career destroyed.
Promises made, promises broken. William vows to stay by Kelly’s side out of guilt, but the tension is ever present. Still attending the LGBT youth group, William’s eye is captured by newcomer Jason Grant. Inevitably, Kelly and William part ways, promising to still be friends, leaving Kelly hollow, empty, and alone. Kelly and Jason meet yet again at the youth group, William having left Jason behind for Coast Guard training, the two get to know each other during an exercise, and soon a friendship is born.
Jason introduces Kelly to Marcello, who offers Kelly the opportunity to model, regardless of his missing leg, or rather because of his amputation. During the shoot, Kelly recognizes Nathaniel, whom he met at a fundraiser hosted by Marcello. Marcello decides to send Kelly and Nathaniel out on the town on a different type of shoot, one that is more spontaneous and that will show a different side to Kelly. Nathaniel is enigmatic and Kelly is intrigued as they spend time together and get to know each other better. Kelly thinks that Nathaniel is not only hot, but that they could be good together. Sadly, Nathaniel is only interested in one night stands, while Kelly believes they can have so much more.
Something Like Lightning is the first book in the Storm series, featuring secondary characters from Something Like Spring, including Kelly, William, and Nathaniel. That being said, it is my opinion that you will get so much more out of the story if you read the Seasons series first (go, run, get them!).
I have to be honest here and say that I really, I mean really, disliked Kelly for the first third of the book. I did not find him likeable and could best describe him as the hot head who creates the tension, holds a grudge, and is angry, immature, and insecure. Not a pretty picture, that’s for sure, but given his circumstances, not out of character. William, on the other hand, was the amiable push over, rarely standing up for himself and I could not help but like him. I mean who doesn’t want to spend time with a calm, peaceful person?
What made the difference? What change the tide from (justifiable and well written) annoyance was the introduction of Kelly’s counselor Allison from the Seasons series. I just love Alison so much. Her personality is a breath of fresh air and her role in Kelly’s life enables him to grow, learn, and move forward. From the point that Kelly and William break up, things progress with Kelly befriending Jason, who in turn sets in motion a chain of events that lead to Kelly and Nathaniel getting together. I can’t say that Nathaniel was a particularly deep character, but that was okay, Kelly was had enough personality for both of them and he did his part well.
The intricate levels of interconnectivity in these series never cease to astound me, especially when characters from previous books suddenly make an appearance, either physically or in conversation. It brings the saying “It’s a small world” and the concept of six degrees of separation to a whole new level. What really impresses me is that Bell has created this world, populated it with characters, and given it life.
Tis is rare that I would find something that felt “off” to me with this book. It is obvious that Kelly and William are attracted to each other, yet William is not out, and then William changed his tune overnight. We are shown that he is afraid to meet Kelly’s family, but then he comes out at school soon after. I would say that this was the only thing that caught my eye as inconsistent in terms of William’s character, or even in the entire book.
In the end, Bell created a complex character in Kelly, and as you gathered from above, I honestly could not stand him and almost regretted the decision to read the book until the supporting characters from the Seasons series arrived on the scene. Not a ringing endorsement, you might think, but as I am fond of saying, it is easy to write happy characters, but much harder to write an unpleasant character that the reader can relate to or empathize with to one extent or another.
I am getting ready to continue my Storm series journey with Something Like Thunder and strongly encourage you to experience the incredible world Bell created as I have.