Author: Stephani Hecht
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages/Word Count: 71 Pages
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Blurb: Bradley is just a normal, unassuming man. He works as a banker during the day, then goes home to his dogs and his grandfather. There may be the occasional speed bump since Gramps has several medical conditions that keep him home bound, but that nothing that Bradley can’t manage. It’s not like he even has a social life. Not so soon after breaking up with Mike, the man who Bradley had thought would be the ‘one’. Only to find out that Mike was a jerk.
When ex-PJ, Mike finds out that his ex is planning to ride out the upcoming hurricane, he doesn’t know whether to strangle the man or to go help him. In the end, love prevails and Mike rushes to Bradley’s side. Will they survive the hurricane? Or are they doomed?
Review: Bradley has spent the last several years caring for a cantankerous, ailing grandfather. Part of that time, the quiet and loving Bradley had the support of his boyfriend, Mike. However, Mike was often deployed, using his paramedic skills to help those on the front lines. His was a dangerous job, and it was only a matter of time before his luck would run out and he’d return from a mission injured—or worse. So when Mike felt himself drawing closer to Bradley, he decided to end the relationship based on the fear that he would one day be just another burden for his lover to deal with rather than someone he could turn to for help. But after a year long silence, Mike is back. The hurricane threatening the coastline has put Bradley directly in the path of danger, and two men who once loved each other are trapped in its destructive wake.
This installment of the Storming Love series began as a good premise but had difficulty delivering on its promise. I really enjoyed the character of Bradley. Never coming off as a doormat, but rather as a responsible and sensitive soul, Bradley tugs at your heartstrings, making you desire only the best for him in the midst of a pretty terrible life. The way in which Mike chose to leave him was cowardly and cruel, so when Mike reappears, the author had her work cut out for her to draw a character whom we could understand Bradley not only forgiving but allowing back into his life.
Sadly, here is where the novel failed to achieve its main goal. Mike’s paranoia about eventually either coming home severely injured and damaged for life or, worse yet, in a body bag, was such a weak premise for leaving the man he is so desperately in love with at the time. To pick up and leave out of the clear blue and then return a year later expecting to be able to have Bradley back was a bit presumptuous. Also, if both men were aware of the dangers of Mike’s job, surely in the five years they were together it would have been a topic for conversation. But the storyline indicates that they never expressed their thoughts openly with each other. Five years is a remarkably long time to remain silent about such a huge elephant in the room.
Then there was the premise that Bradley’s amazingly wealthy grandfather had all his money tied up with another one of the relatives, making Bradley the sole financial support for both of them. A granddad who, by the way, was a real bastard to Bradley most of the time. There is extended family, quite large according to the story, that never darkened Bradley’s doorstep? Not even when the grandfather was dying of cancer? I just felt that was so unrealistic. Even the most callous of family members visits occasionally, if just to “keep face” with the neighbors.
Lastly, the storm came and went in this novella so rapidly and with so little real threat or damage that I failed to understand the hype and building fear surrounding it. Other than flooding and power outages, the hurricane seemed to have little impact for all the precautions they took to guard against it. This aspect of urgency and worry really felt wasted on a rather wimpy storm that never panned out as a real threat to their lives.
All in all Bradley & Mike just needed more time to develop and more punch to make the panic believable. This author has an impressive backlist of stories, and I have enjoyed many of her novels. Unfortunately, this one needed just a bit more story to be the exciting tale it promised to be.
You can buy Storming Love: Bradley & Mike here: