Title: A Year in the Life (Courtlands – The Next Generation)
Author: Cat Grant
Pages/Word Count: 284 Pages
At a Glance: This was a very well written story, with strong characters going through honest emotions, feelings, and life changing events.
Reviewed By: Chris
Blurb: A campus flu outbreak, complicated by a freak October blizzard, brings Cornell seniors Seth Thompson and Bilal al-Mansoori together. Three days spent waiting out the storm at Seth’s snowbound apartment leads to an unexpected mutual attraction—and a hot night under the covers, which quickly deepens into a true emotional bond…
Plus, a world of problems for Bilal, an Iranian Muslim. Despite his homeland’s harsh laws and even harsher punishment for homosexuality, Bilal can no longer deny who he really is: A gay man falling in love for the first time.
Seth’s gentle manner and passionate lovemaking bring Bilal more joy than he ever thought possible. Yet, despite the lovers’ growing happiness, Bilal’s haunted by guilt and shame left over from his strict upbringing, and the sad realization that he’ll never see his family in Iran again.
Speaking of families, it’s time for Bilal to meet Seth’s…
Eric, Nick and Ally. Ten years later, this committed triad is still as deeply in love as ever, but even commitment comes with challenges…
Is there room in this non-traditional family for Bilal? His future with Seth may depend on it.
Review: A Year in the Life is best read as a continuation of the original series due to the main characters being heavily featured in this book. You may be able to read it as a standalone, but much of the backstory for the characters will be lost. A Year in the Life also contains the short story In From the Cold, which introduces us to Seth and Bilal.
Sick and oh so miserable, Seth Thompson ends up going to the campus clinic so he can make it through his upcoming exams. While there he admires the very handsome and also very sick Bilal al-Mansoori. Both see each other but don’t really acknowledge the other, until they end up meeting again at the pharmacy, and then again as Seth heads back to his apartment. He ends up helping Bilal, who is so ill he’s almost delirious. Seth brings Bilal home with him, where they end up stuck inside during a snow storm. Seth shares his home, medicine and eventually body heat with Bilal, which ends up as something more than just comfort.
Bilal, however, ends up scared because he’s Iranian and Muslim and can’t acknowledge his feelings or desires for another man. This drives Bilal away from Seth at the first break in the storm, and back to his own isolated side of campus. This doesn’t stop his growing attraction to Seth but because of Iran’s laws, it forces him to deny himself the possibility of more. Eventually he ends up having to see Seth again, and their desire and attraction explodes. Seth and Bilal end up seeing where their attraction will go, but still are fearful of Bilal’s father and the other students from Iran finding out about them.
The story, continuing into A Year in the Life, shows Seth and Bilal working through a relationship. Bilal comes out to his sister, and his sister ends up sharing her secrets with him in return. The boys share Thanksgiving together with Seth’s family, which ends up being more stressful then they expected. Seth is surprised by what he feels is opposition from his father, and pushes back at them a few times. It leaves them deciding to share Christmas alone in New York City together. Unfortunately plans ended up changing, and they ended up with Seth’s family again, which was a very interesting event.
I’d previously read the original Courtland series and wasn’t sure where this next generation might take the story. I’ll admit I loved Seth and Bilal more than Eric, Ally, and Nick’s story. There is something very honest, and even unguarded, in the relationship between Seth and Bilal. Part of it could be Bilal’s being frightened by what could happen if his father or the Ministry could do if they learn he’s gay. Another is just the natural exploration of the growing bonds between Seth and Bilal. Seth’s strength in standing up to his father, Nick, that Bilal is his future and his heart, is one of the best showcases of the character.
This was a very well written story, with strong characters going through honest emotions, feelings, and life changing events. The author created both characters as strong in their own way, and didn’t compromise on either characters’ development. A Year in the Life is definitely one of my top new adult genre books so far this year. I highly recommend it for fans of the author’s previous works. I would also recommend this for fans of the m/m new adult genre, and for those that prefer characters with more realistic relationship growth and problems.