This compelling m/m romance provides a multi-layered story that explores the idea of acceptance, dealing with the repercussions of decisions, and the various faces of love. There are harsh lessons about the dangers of unprotected sex intermixed with the flowering of a relationship that undergoes a multiplicity of challenges, and not just those accompanying ‘coming out’. It is wonderful the way the various romances and relationships, fraught with differing challenges, are gradually delineated, even as one aches at the obstacles that must be coped with. Watching the way more and more individuals become part of the ‘family’ that Sam feels compelled to care for, whether desired or not, is a mesmerizing experience.
The amazing gift that Kaje Harper has for creating a fascinating story peopled with individuals who are facing struggles with differing amounts of grace and acceptance is displayed in all of her stories. Even more impressive is her generosity in providing some of these stories for free, including the touching prequel to this particular story. Not only are the main characters given depth and dimensionality, but some of the secondary characters display remarkable charisma as well (I cheered for the pharmacist in this story, delighted in watching the relationship unfold with Jeff, and would really like to get to know Dora more). I have rapidly devoured all of the titles by this author I could get my hands on, even though it is taking me a while to get the reviews written up, and I can honestly say that I haven’t been disappointed by any of them. The greatest compliment that I can give is that I really would like to read more about all of the characters, and I can get lost in the stories every time I pick them up!
“The Family We Make” by Kaje Harper is the touching sequel to “The Family We’re Born With”, and picks up immediately after that story ends. Sam’s frantic search for his missing brother Rick (formerly known as Clint) has had a semi-happy ending, but there are still the challenges of finding a niche to give him a safe haven and support the two of them as well. Sam’s newfound bio-family has a wealth of resources, including a half-brother who is also in a gay relationship, and a lead for a possible job. Rick is struggling to find his identity but learns that there are even more challenges facing a person who has engaged in unsafe sex, and the repercussions will require painful decisions and challenges he hadn’t imagined.
At seventeen, Rick Albright left his home, his parents and even his old name, rather than pretend to be straight. But being on his own was hard. When his big brother Sam found him, and insisted on giving him a place to stay, he didn't resist too long. Living with Sam is better than fighting just to survive, but it's not easy to find his balance in a simple, small-town life, after his time on the streets.
Travis Brinkerhoff finally managed to come out in college, his second year anyway. It was the one bright side to losing his baseball scholarship and jock status. But without money for tuition, second year came to an abrupt end. He's back in his small Minnesota hometown, and back in the closet. Travis feels like he's trying to fit into a life he's outgrown. If he's going to survive, he has to figure out a way to be his own man, maybe even have his own man, without losing the family he loves.
When he left the Marines, Sam Albright wanted nothing more than to find his missing younger brother. Mission accomplished. Now he's got an independent, possibly traumatized, openly gay young man on his hands, a girlfriend in a war zone overseas, and parents he has to lie to in order to keep the peace. Keeping it all together won't be easy, but Sam has never backed away from a challenge.