Author: Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Contemporary
Kyle Green is on top of the world. He and Matt have been together for ten years, and—as the voice of Ecos, the wildly popular anime character—Kyle is treated like a rock star in anime circles. But in an instant, a stroke leaves him blind. When photographer Matt gets the opportunity of a lifetime, Kyle reexamines their relationship, discovers it has been a safety net rather than a true romance, and sets Matt free to pursue his dream. Kyle’s life and career as he knew them are gone, and he must now find the courage and creativity to draft a new plan.
After being away for fifteen years, Seth Caplan comes home to Chicago to care for his mother and to partner with a small start-up tech company. He and Kyle meet after Kyle’s collision with a child’s sidewalk toy, and they hit it off. Kyle wants to get back into running, and Seth becomes his guide. As they get to know each other, they start seeing each other beyond their three-times-a-week runs. But Seth’s revelation of the dark reason why he left his career in California sends the relationship into a tailspin and leaves both men running blind.
I should probably start with the disclaimer that Kim Fielding is rapidly becoming one of my top favorite authors and though I haven’t read Venona Keyes’s work previously, I’m impressed with this story. Always interesting, frequently fun, Ms. Fielding’s stories generally provide a little extra—usually by imparting knowledge about a subject of interest that I really didn’t understand in depth. In this case, it was the world of voice actors, narrators, and those who do voice-over animation.
Kyle is one such person, a professional who is responsible for the voice of several popular characters, including Eco, a yaoi anime character. But the young man, only around forty years old, has a stroke that leaves him visually impaired. Partnered with his best friend, Matt, for over ten years, he realizes while recuperating that he doesn’t love Matt in a head-over-heels way, and never has. But he does love him enough to release him to achieve his dream job, photographing an archeological dig of his family’s Native American tribe. The grant for the dig is something Matt has worked on for years, and Kyle won’t have him stuck as his caretaker when he can seize the chance to do what he loves and perhaps even meet someone new—someone who will give him head-over-heels love.
While adjusting to life after vision loss, Kyle discovers that he may have Riddoch’s Syndrome, something which allows him to see shadows, outlines, and colors of things that are moving. And while learning more about this, he decides to improve his chances of running outdoors by taking on a volunteer who will guide him by tether line so that he can be free to pursue this favorite outdoor activity. That’s how he meets Seth, an attorney who has come home from San Francisco care for his mother whose memory loss from Alzheimer’s is increasing rapidly.
The two men have great chemistry together, rapidly becoming friends, and eventually lovers. This is definitely a slow burn romance, but it’s also the start of a deep and abiding forever love that is happening all while Seth is caring for his mother and Kyle is moving forward on a different career path—one that keeps him close to voice acting, yet not his dream job of being the voice of Eco and other characters. While Kyle allows the new changes in his life to be positive, rather than negative, Seth learns that there’s forgiveness for a guilt he’s been carrying over a former lost love. The men also learn that one doesn’t have to see to believe and fall in love, one only has to have the capacity to allow the heart to heal.
I loved the dedication the authors included to voice actors, specifically naming some fan favorites. And I really appreciated the insight into the world of voice acting. It added to the story by making it even more interesting than it would have been just with such sweet and endearing characters.
I recommend this to all lovers of MM romance, but especially to those who enjoy friends to lovers, slow burn, hurt:comfort, and older MCs. Don’t miss a chance to read this heartwarming story.