Graham has made a life choice to never commit to any relationship with a man and instead he only indulges in quick sexual encounters, without exchanging names and with no strings attached. Graham’s reason for this is simple: he has a strong family history of early-onset Alzheimer’s and is scared for his own future.
Graham has just bought his family’s cabin on the lake in order to care for his father whose own Alzheimer’s is deteriorating to the point that he can no longer live alone. On the night before the move, Graham chooses to visit a club with the intention of meeting a hook-up. The gorgeous guy Graham meets — S.G. or Sexy Giant as Graham dubs him — gives Graham exactly what he wants, although S.G. seems reluctant to leave without Graham’s name or number.
It is not long before Graham realizes that caring full time for his father is difficult while also attempting to work from home and he hires a a home care nurse. Only, the nurse that arrives is someone Graham has already met and Sam is determined to break down Graham’s walls — if Graham will allow him to.
At under 100 pages, A Love To Remember is short and sweet, but also addresses an important social issue. Caring for family members or loved ones who have any illness is a brave and difficult decision for any person to make and this is exactly what Graham does in A Love To Remember. Perhaps it is convenient in this story that he has a suitable home to move to and he is able to work remotely as an author and editor. However, he still decides to care for his father despite the difficulties that his Alzheimer’s presents and I think Sarah Hadley Brook documents these appropriately and sensitively. The reader is able to understand the unpredictability of his father’s mental state, his forgetfulness, and the affect upon his physical capabilities. When Graham talks to his sister and she suggests a home care nurse, I never found myself condemning Graham for seeking help. As a full-time carer myself, I empathize with the need for self-care and often this means seeking support from outside sources, whether this be family members or professionals.
As readers, the touching part of A Love to Remember that Sam’s presence adds is that we see more of Thurston’s character. Pre-Sam, Graham’s father barely speaks, whereas with Sam around, in his more lucid moments, Thurston expresses his love and concern for his son, even presuming that Sam is Graham’s boyfriend, a fact Thurston is very happy about.
Sam and Graham are very different characters. Sam is naturally caring and he is open about his feelings. On the other hand, Graham is introverted and guarded with his emotions. The first sexual encounter that the two men enjoy with each other is quick, but the intensity between them is communicated through their kisses. Even Graham admits that this encounter is something that he has been unable to stop thinking about, while Sam tells Graham that their meeting again “has to be some kind of fate.” The relationship between the two men begins again quickly with more kisses and Graham agreeing to a date. This is where A Love To Remember became problematic for me. As a health professional, I would have thought that any romantic relationship with someone who has employed him would be frowned upon. Sam says he should be professional and stop, but he continues pursuing Graham and though his care for Thurston is exemplary, I did not feel entirely comfortable with the fact that Sam and Graham are using Thurston’s nap time as an excuse to spend time alone together.
For me, the romance is fast moving, despite the reticence Graham displays. I realize much of this has to do with A Love To Remember being under 100 pages, but on Sam and Graham’s first date, Sam says “I’m falling pretty damn hard for you.” I liked these two characters that Hadley Brook has created and for me, any talk of feelings this strong after days was unnecessary and this rush spoilt the sincerity of the romance, in my opinion.
A Love to Remember is, as the title suggests, a story about the importance of love, not just romantic, but familial. I am a fan of Hadley Brook, but A Love To Remember is not my favorite of her books and it is one I would recommend hesitantly.