Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: 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.
Review: Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes teaming up to write? Sign me up! When I saw that two of my favorite authors co-wrote a book together, I couldn’t wait to get my eyes on it, and boy was I rewarded. Running Blind is a moving, loving, and completely unforgettable story.
These two talented authors took subjects near and dear to them – the glorious city of Chicago, running, anime, yaoi, cons, and audio books to name some – then combined them with two men who turned out to be beautiful complements to one another. Add the elements of loss, courage, vulnerability, healing and, yes, humor to the mix, and the result is a book I loved.
Kyle is a voice-over artist. He’s fun loving, popular, and having voiced a very popular character for several years, he’s a legend among anime fans. Kyle’s long-time partner Matt is a steady presence in his life, but their spark has been gone for quite some time. I applaud the authors for starting the book by showing us a relationship that is very meaningful, but is not going to be the focus of the story. Kyle suffers sudden loss of his vision, resulting in a long hospital stay even before he can begin learning to adjust to life as a blind man. Matt is by his side that entire time, but knowing they had long been more like brothers than lovers, Kyle insists Matt leave to pursue his career rather than continue be tied to Kyle. This was handled in a very adult, plausible fashion – with the two men remaining good friends.
Before you start thinking this is a story with high anxiety levels, or a character who turns into a jerk by feeling sorry for himself or by lashing out at others, let me assure you, this is not that story. Kyle remains strong and kind. He still jokes around. Kyle is a character I admired greatly and was rooting for all the way. Sure, he has his frustrations, and he does eventually reach a boiling point, but he adapts to the basics of his blindness with dignity, and even quickly becomes quite adept at regaining his cooking skills. His sister Lily moves in to help with his adjustment period, and I found her to be a fun and likeable character, even when she did start to meddle a bit. The two siblings had a close and caring relationship, with lots of joking going on between them, despite the gravity of Kyle’s situation. Lily is actually quite key to the story.
Kyle meets Seth one day by literally running into him, and a short time later, fate brings them together again. When Kyle decides to sign up for a running guide, Seth is who he gets paired with. Seth has returned to Chicago to care for his mother, and despite being fun and easy going on the surface, he’s also dealing with demons from his past. Seth and Kyle had a fairly immediate attraction, but spent time becoming friends and actually dating before jumping into anything heavy. I found the slow burn realistic and fitting for the men and their situation. Kyle having let Matt go, dealing with his blindness, his loss of work, his loss of sense of self. Seth was dealing with his mother’s illness, his re-location, his long-held guilt. The two men were honest and open with one another, and made a steady climb toward being a couple in love – each man helping the other to cope. How refreshing!
I was personally fascinated with learning more about Riddoch syndrome – Kyle’s form of vision impairment. It was something I’d not heard of previously. Kudos to the authors for their obvious research regarding this condition, and their authentic presentation of an individual coping with it. As a huge fan of audio books, I was grinning broadly at the cameos made in this story by some of my favorites in this field. Kyle learning to adjust his skills from film voice-over to narrating audio books felt like the perfect fit for him. This story is in Kyle’s POV, and at times I felt the need to be in Seth’s head a bit more, but the dialogue between the two men did a great job of letting me know Seth’s mind. I wouldn’t have minded hearing more about Kyle’s physical recovery, and initial phases of learning to cope with his blindness. However, the focus here was meant to be on the struggles and triumphs of moving forward.
This story is about never losing sight (I know, pun alert!) of the big things in life, of accepting challenges and rising above them, of recognizing who has your back and who would like to take on that role. Kyle and Seth rocked it. It’s an inspirational story featuring characters that are authentic, raw and real. A truly wonderful book.