Roderick is back in Vermont where he grew up. His parents kicked him out when they learned he was gay and, after being homeless for a time, Roderick made his way to Nashville. After a disastrous breakup with his boyfriend, Roderick is left with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his car—which he finds himself living in. Roderick is a trained chef and he specializes in bread making and he’s determined to land a new job. Making himself indispensable at the Busy Bean seems like his best plan. Except, Kieran also works there and the men had a brief run in during high school and now Roderick can’t even get Kieran to make eye contact with him.
Kieran has a lot of dreams. He dreams of moving off of the family farm and he dreams of going to art school. His family life is tense, he doesn’t get along well with his father, and Kieran is forever getting his brother’s farm chores piled on to his already overloaded shoulders. He never really felt like he fit in with his family and a deep family secret, that he’s not supposed to know, is the reason why. Being gay doesn’t feel like an option in his world and Kieran keeps himself locked down tight, even to those closest to him. But Roderick is everything Kieran never hoped to want and now that the men are roommates and coworkers, their worlds are going to collide.
Roommate is an in-depth look at both Kieran and Roderick and offers a well-developed, character-driven book. With nowhere else to go, Roderick winds up back in Vermont and, while his parents are still there, they are not welcoming him home. We learn Roderick’s back story quickly and since he’s always been trying to simply hang on, whether it’s with his career or his love life, he hasn’t realized how much his past has truly affected where he is now and the decisions he makes. He wants what people would consider the simple things in life: a stable job, a warm home, and a man that will love him openly.
Kieran has a lot to do with working two jobs and the family farm chores that never seem to end. His family life is unsettling and unsatisfying and he has no idea how to ever reach for more and seeing Roderick again makes him more than a little uncomfortable. Kieran is incredibly attracted to Roderick, but he has no idea how to even think about wanting more. Kieran has no experience with dating men and, while he grows comfortable with and even craves being with Roderick in private, he refuses to come out and Roderick promised himself he would never live like that again.
There are family secrets that are revealed as Kieran and Roderick reach for a life together. They both have a lot of issues that they can’t seem to be able to put down and while their relationship isn’t easy, they both know they can be better together. However, I would have liked to have seen some expansion as attempts were made to close some of the threads to the story without much depth in some areas.
The small Vermont town they live in is the backdrop for this book and several series of books that will follow this and there will be a lot of stories to tell in this World of True North universe. The Busy Bean will be one of the multi-author series and, while this story features the cafe, the rest of the LGBT stories will take place at the wine bar/bookstore, Vino and Veritas. I would have hoped there would be more crossover to the MF and MM stories in the True North world as opposed to it initially looking like they will be separated into different series.
It is rewarding to see Roderick and Kieran find the home together they both have always craved and Roommate is a good opener to this world of small-town romance.