Life, Some Assembly Required offers Kaje Harper’s trademark — a well-grounded story about REAL people. It also has a setting in what I will call Kaje’s playground: family. I have admired (and respected) Kaje when she writes about family.
This story is a follow-up of 2012’s The Rebuilding Year. I admit that I didn’t remember much about that one, but it’s mostly my fault for having bad memory. I didn’t have any trouble in connecting with the characters right from the get go. Ryan and John were pretty much SOLID throughout. Never for once, I questioned their relationship. However, they have to deal with the ins and outs of being gay couple when it comes to their family and friends.
We have two teenagers (John’s kids) and their problems (including one who just in the brink of sexuality discovery). We have a father who doesn’t understand but trying to be open-minded, a brother who not exactly welcoming but also getting there, another brother who understands and is very supportive, a future sister-in-law with bigoted and old-fashioned parents, and a pregnant ex-wife who becomes the hardest obstacle yet.
I loved how John and Ryan worked out the issues, and I was proud that Ryan didn’t back down when it came to announcing that he was in a relationship with a man. Like I said, Ryan and John were solid, which helped my enjoyment level a LOT, considering the family drama. I loved John’s children — Torey most especially was a joy to read. I also loved the dynamic of Ryan’s father and brothers when it came to dealing with Ryan’s newly found happiness with a man.
Cynthia (the pregnant ex-wife) on the other hand, was a bit of a challenge. In my review for The Rebuilding Year , I wrote “the fact that John’s wife is a b*tch and her new husband is a jerk, seems to be making it easy to tip our favor to both MCs. No contest there. Here, Cynthia’s new husband was still an asshole and she was getting a divorce, all the while finding out that her baby was suffering from Down syndrome. All of this made Cynthia slightly more than just a two-dimensional villain. I commended Kaje for that.
Yes, there were times I thought that John was being too helpful and too kind — for the sake of his children — but nonetheless, I enjoyed reading that kind of complexity, when it wasn’t too easy to hate a character. I never really like it when our hatred towards a character being served in a silver-platter as a plot device. I guess even a villain should be not too easy too hate :). I still don’t like Cynthia — and I definitely wish that John would stand up to her more strongly, but I liked how Kaje added personal issues to her character.
Overall, it is a well written and down-to-earth family story, as I know Kaje will deliver. It flows nicely with fairly sexy times (and rather mushy stuffs) in between.
The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Title: Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year, #2)
Author: Kaje Harper
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 106,792
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: June 9, 2015