Reviewed for Blackravens Reviews
Publisher: Kaituhi Press
Image courtesy of Kaituhi Press
Genre: GLBT, Erotic Contemporary, M/M
Length: 326 pages
What would you do if the man you loved vanished without a trace?
Kyle and Todd meet at a party in their freshman year at college. They fall in lust at first sight, then deep in love. In spite of Kyle’s melancholy past, their future together looks bright. Then Kyle disappears, leaving Todd heartbroken and alone, and their dreams in ruins. Fifteen years later, Todd is a successful but lonely psychiatrist. He still hasn’t come to terms with the loss of his first love. When a dangerous amnesiac arrives at the hospital, Todd is forced to confront the past, and is driven to find answers to the questions that have haunted him all these years.
Return to Me is the debut novel of James Oliver French. It tells the story of the romance of Todd Chambers and Kyle Hansen, two young men who meet during their college years. Todd is planning to go into medicine and Kyle wants to become an accountant. Return to Me reveals itself through the eyes of Todd and this may be one of the novel’s shortcomings. As I read the book, I felt I never really got a chance to know Kyle. The reader sees Kyle and his life through the eyes of Todd. Kyle is the beautiful boy that Todd loves with all of his young heart. You clearly see the passion and love the two young men share.
Return to Me is not light fare. The book has depth and character; it is one of the few books that I’ve read recently which grabbed my emotions. There are some painful, heart-felt moments in this book as it follows Todd from college student to adulthood. French paints some tender scenes between the two young lovers as they explore their new-found relationship. His secondary characters are well drawn. Felix and Georgina, Todd’s two best friends, have their own personalities and life events. They come onto the stage with their own joys and disappointments.
Todd has strong family support and love from his mother, father, and sister, while Kyle is apart from his family. The separation is so profound that when Kyle goes missing, they never even voice concern. Todd, on the other hand, finds the loss of Kyle devastating. His depression at the loss of his first love is stark and naked.
Return to Me is a two-part story. The first half of the book details the developing relationship between Todd and Kyle, while the second half of the book picks up 15 years after Kyle’s mysterious disappearance. Since the unexplained loss of Kyle, Todd lives his life in a sort of limbo. His only attachments, beyond his psychiatric patients are his family, Felix, and Georgina.
Return to Me is not a book to pick up if you’re looking for the standard HEA ending. Things don’t wrap up in a nice little bow, but neither does real life. This book will make you smile, but it will also make you a little teary-eyed. It’s worth investing the time and energy to get to know Todd and Kyle. I look forward to reading other stories by James Oliver French. He knows what he’s doing. I give Return to Me 4 Stars for the clarity of his voice.