Title: The Art of Hero Worship
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: CoolDudes Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 181 Pages
At a Glance: Despite the rushed ending, The Art of Hero Worship is a well crafted novel that explores relationships without labeling them.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Trembling on the floor, pressed beneath a row of seats in a dark theater, college freshman Jason Tripp listens to the terrifying sound of gunshots, as an unknown shooter moves methodically through the theater, randomly murdering men, women, and children attending a student performance of Hamlet. Junior Liam Norcross drapes his massive body on top of Jason, sheltering the younger man from the deathly hail of bullets, risking his life willingly, and maybe even eagerly.
As a result of the shared horror, an extraordinary bond forms between the two young men, which causes discomfort for family and friends, as well as for Jason and Liam, themselves. And added to the challenge of two previously “straight” men falling into a same-sex love, are the complications that arise from the abundance of secrets Liam holds with regard to a past family tragedy. The fledgling passion between the men seems bound to fade away into the darkness from which it emerged.
Jason, however, is inexplicably called to rescue his hero in return, by delving into Liam’s shady past and uncovering the mystery that compels the older man to act as the college town’s selfless savior.
The Art of Hero Worship takes the reader on a voyage from the dark and chilling chaos that accompanies a mass shooting to the thrill of an unexpected and sensual romance.
Review: The Art of Hero Worship by Mia Kerick takes us on a journey of self-realization, trauma and recovery. While many may wish to label this story as a gay-for-you or out-for-you story, it is truly neither of those. This is not a tried and true trope that seeks to diminish bisexuality or alienate some who may read it; rather, it is a journey of discovering that sometimes labels do not exist for people. It becomes a story that is bent on not labeling the feelings two college age men come to have for each other but rather, decides to dwell in the peaceful knowledge that they are in love and no one should, not even themselves, rush to determine whether that should be called bisexual, gay or otherwise. In many ways it is a bold and brave story that refuses to be anything other than what it is–a saving grace from which love is built.
Jason and his girlfriend should have been safe that night–after all, they were simply attending a play, nothing more, at the campus theatre where no one expected a psychotic fellow student to open fire, killing so many, including Jason’s girlfriend. He himself has been injured, grazed by a bullet, but it is the terror around him that causes him to freeze until another student, Liam Norcross, throws himself on top of Jason and saves him from the shooters next spray of bullets. However, while escaping, the killer recognizes both men and informs them he will find them and kill them; there is no escaping him. Now, holed up in a hotel where police have placed them for their protection, something strange begins to happen to both the boys. A bond that deifies logic takes hold and an attraction neither thought possible forms.
This bond will continue beyond the terrifying events still to take place, beyond the PTSD that will nearly destroy Jason and follow the two men, setting them on a path that defies everything they both thought they knew of their sexuality and what, or who, attracted them. The real question now becomes, is this just hero worship or something more—something deeper that cannot be defined?
I mentioned above that the main characters in this story are determined not to examine their attraction to each other too closely in the beginning of this novel. These are two guys who have had girlfriends in the past, and while Liam admits most of his intimacies with girls were more one-night stands, Jason has had deep and loving relationships with girls before. So when these two realize that their need for each other stretches well beyond the horror of their shared experience, it is with extreme care that the author allows us to see how both Jason and Liam come to terms with their feelings for each other. I really admired the way in which the boys grappled with this new-found facet of their sexuality and refused to put a label on it. In the end, it wasn’t really an issue whether these boys were bi or gay or anything in between on the rainbow spectrum; what mattered was the fact that they saved each other, that they were both the hero the other wanted in their life. This was the real strength of this novel–that these men helped each other move beyond their fears, aiding the therapy that both would eventually partake of, and emerged both healthier and better able to cope with their shared trauma.
The novel was so well crafted until the last quarter, where events that were used to crack open the hold Liam’s past had on him seemed a bit too contrived. While I understood the need for a dramatic moment that would pull Liam out of his guilt over losing someone dear to him, I also found the ending of the novel way too easy and rushed. From the climatic scene that threatened to rip Liam and Jason apart to the final moments where Liam suddenly realized his need for counseling, the pacing was way too fast and the neat and tidy resolution a bit too much to swallow.
We had come from a place in this story where we had watched these guys really grapple with their attraction for each other, surviving their nightmarish experiences and then enduring the slow healing that was taking place to a happy-ever-after that just did not do justice to the journey we had just watched play out before us. The Art of Hero Worship is a beautiful novel that just needed a bit more page time at the end, a slower and more thoughtful ending than the one that was offered.
Despite the rushed ending, The Art of Hero Worship is a well crafted novel that explores relationships without labeling them. In many ways, it is new ground for an m/m novel to take, and it was, for the most part, successful as well as entertaining.
You can buy The Art of Hero Worship here:
About the Author: Mia Kerick is an award-winning author of stories involving the type of life events that are riveting to read about, but you probably wouldn’t want to experience first hand. Into her fictional disasters, she sprinkles a sufficient quantity of touching and spicy adult LGBTQ romance to keep her readers coming back for more.
Having relocated from Boston, Massachusetts to rural New Hampshire, Mia lives with her doting husband, four brilliant and accomplished young adult children who will one day likely contribute to the establishment of world peace (Mia believes in self-fulfilling prophecies), and at least three too many cats. She suffers with a severe case of mall-withdrawal, which leads to frequent online shopping, and an overly personal relationship with the UPS driver.
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