Orlando is just getting his life back on track after a childhood spent in the care system and some of his adult life spent experimenting with drugs and wild partying. Orlando is working at a gym, and though barely able to afford his apartment and living expenses, he looks forward to ordering his morning Americano and chatting with Hot Coffee Shop Guy, aka Geoff. On the same day that Orlando finally finds the courage to ask Geoff out on a date, his life is turned upside down by the delivery of a surprise package — a baby! Orlando takes to fatherhood with trepidation, but attempts to balance his new and very unexpected responsibilities with his job and fledging relationship with Geoff. However, as Orlando and Geoff learn more about each other, Orlando realizes that his mental health issues and need for extra support with Noelle, along with Geoff’s codependent tendencies, might be a dangerous combination.
I very rarely read stories which feature children but for me, Casey Cameron perfectly fits Noelle into Love Keeps Giving. When Noelle’s mother leaves her with Orlando, she is only eight months old, which means that Orlando suddenly has to put Noelle’s needs before his own and worry about the family he has never had. Cameron does not make this an easy transition for Orlando, but as a mother myself, I really empathized with him and not only his logistical struggle, but his financial one too. I felt that there were some inconsistencies, like Noelle not being introduced to solid food until nine months old, but there are also sweet moments that outweighed this, like the first time Noelle calls Orlando “Dada.” In my opinion, Noelle’s inclusion in this story adds an extra layer of emotion and depth to Orlando’s characters that would not have existed without her, making Love Keeps Giving all the more enjoyable for the reader.
As is apparent from the book’s cover, Love Keeps Giving is a biracial novel, but Cameron does not really make this an issue, which I think is a positive. In fact, the difference in Orlando and Geoff’s color is only mentioned once when Orlando meets Geoff’s family for the first time.
“Did you actually warn them you’re dating a black guy with a baby? I really don’t want to be anyone’s unpleasant Thanksgiving surprise, and this whole area is, um . . . ”
“As white as supermarket bread?” Geoff supplied.
The fact that Geoff dispels Orlando’s worry with humor only compounds the fact that Orlando’s color is a non-issue for him and should also not be one for the reader.
I have already mentioned that Orlando has mental health issues and Cameron deals with these sensitively, but also with clear knowledge. At the beginning of Love Keeps Giving, Orlando gives an almost amusing account of the medication he takes and why, but says that of all of the drugs “caffeine was by far his favorite.” The reader learns more about Orlando’s daily struggles as the story progresses, even being present when he is having a panic attack. Cameron’s exploration of Orlando’s mental illness gives the reader a greater understanding of him and his reticence about his relationship with Geoff. My own personal experiences mean that I felt a deeper connection to Orlando and his endeavors to balance his life.
In Love Keeps Giving Cameron ensures her reader has an enchanting and often heart-warming sense of the holiday season in which the novel is set. Not only is Orlando’s daughter aptly named Noelle, but she calms when she is gently sung Christmas carols — and Cameron uses the lyrics of these traditional songs meaningfully throughout the book. Thanksgiving is a difficult one for both Orlando and Geoff, but Cameron brings the two men, along with Noelle, together at Christmas in an unorthodox but poignant fashion, which gives the reader all the right feels.
I really enjoyed Love Keeps Giving and Cameron’s engaging writing in which the reader has a very real grasp of the characters. The story is a beautiful combination of sweet and passionate with a suitably fitting ending that leaves a lump in the reader’s throat. Even though we are now entering the New Year, I think Cameron’s novel still has a lot to offer any fan of gay romance.