book reviews · m/m romance

Book Reviews: Kaje Harper’s “Life, Some Assembly Required” (The Rebuilding Year #2) (2015)

25157943I really enjoyed the first book in this series, but I loved this sequel even more! It’s always such a treat diving into a book where you already know and love the characters, and the characters are already together at the beginning- it gives us more time to enjoy them!

In a way this is a very simple book: a family drama. Well, step-family drama, perhaps? After all, by being together Ryan and John aren’t just building a relationship, they’re building a family, with step-children and ex’s and ex’s new partners and babies to worry about. Plus there’s the added drama of telling everyone in their lives that, by the way, they aren’t 100% straight. Not everyone in their extended families is okay with that, which naturally causes some tension as well. …maybe one day people will stop being offended when their friends or family “suddenly turn gay”, as they seem to put it, believing that said person has been “lying” to everyone their whole lives about who they’re attracted to (here I pause to roll my eyes). Well, that’s family drama for you.

With this issue of “being gay”, however, I think the author has done a really good job by not having our main characters themselves be all that concerned with their sexual “orientation”. Ryan and John are with each other, ultimately, and that’s what matters- not that they’re both men. It doesn’t mean that fact isn’t important- homophobia of varying degrees certainly comes up in the book- but they aren’t wallowing in it. It’s that positivity which makes a difference and makes this book even more enjoyable, I feel.

To me the heart of this book is smaller than all that, however: it’s John and Ryan learning to be together and how to best support each other, and about caring for themselves and John’s teenage son after the trauma that three of them went through in the first book. It’s good to see that this trauma- and other personal demons- are taken seriously, by both the author and the characters. They all have some new challenges to face, and they need to take care of each other as they face them.

I feel like with this book, author Harper has allowed the plot to be a lot more internally-focused thank its predecessor, with the story stemming directly from the characters and their relationships- unlike in the first book of this series, which had quite a solid (if slightly frustrating: see my review) external plot in addition. That was a good move, I felt, and was just as entertaining and emotionally satisfying, if not more, than its much more traditionally-plotted and structured predecessor. Give this series a go- Ryan and John are precious, and I know you’ll love to spend time with them!

{Summary from Amazon.com:}
After spending the first part of his life chasing pretty girls, love has finally come to Ryan in the form of John, a tall, lanky, red-headed landscape architect with wide shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow.

For the first time in his life, love feels easy. Hell, he even ran into a burning building for John and his son, and he’d do it again if he had to. But telling his father and brothers “I’m gay. I’ve met a man”? That’s a bumpy ride he’s not looking forward to.

For John, loving Ryan is as natural as breathing. Now if only the rest of his life would fall into place. Dealing with his teen son is complicated enough, but with his ex-wife causing trouble and his daughter wanting to move in, John’s house—and his relationship with Ryan—threaten to split at the seams.

Would one month without a new surprise knocking him upside the heart be asking too much? If the sound of Fate’s laughter is any indication, the answer must be yes…

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