Title: The Keeper
Author: S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Genre: Paranormal M/M Romance
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Length: Novella (68 PDF pages, 35k words)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Tj
Summary Review: A slow building romance featuring two interesting characters, some unusual, but clever paranormal angles and religious undertones.
The Blurb: Generation after generation, an unattached male is plucked from the same family line and sent to the home of the man they only know as Dhakir. It is a duty all men in the line are brought up knowing, but none can know which male will be called or when.
Twenty-six-year-old Hadi Rahal is plucked from his fast-paced life among the brilliant lights and shallow vanity of Milan’s fashion world when he is told his uncle has passed on and he is the next Keeper. Knowing only vague legend, Hadi travels to Sétif, Algeria where his heritage waits in the form of an ancient name and sorrowful eyes he cannot turn from, even as he prays to God for the fortitude to resist.
The Review: I have to warn you upfront that there are religious undertones running throughout this book that some may find troubling, as Jesus’ words are reinterpreted and the church’s stance on gays and sin are questioned. Personally, I was not troubled at all, having been raised a Christian, but I felt this was worth noting for those more sensitive to these issues.
The book opens during a chaotic fashion show back stage scene, introducing Hadi, who is living the fast paced life in the fashion world of Milan. In the midst of this, Hadi receives an urgent call from home that his uncle has died and he is to return home immediately. Upon arriving in France, Hadi learns that the old family tale of the Keeper is true and due to his uncle’s passing, Hadi is the next in line. Not surprisingly Hadi struggles with this new course for his life:
“Hadi clenched his jaw tightly. His father had newborn twins to care for. He could not, in good conscience, deprive his brothers of the love and upbringing he knew they would enjoy with his parents. But his life in Milan, his work, his friends… Was his life not worth equal consideration? He felt his anger seep from him, replaced with a sense of dread and sorrowful resignation. ‘Please, Father… do not ask this of me…’ ”
Family honor and obligation compel Hadi to do as is expected and he is quickly off to Setif to care for the protected one known as Sayyid Dhakir. The beginning is quite mysterious and drew me into the story right away; starting with Hadi’s dilemma, the mysterious kept one, and the long line of Keepers that preceded Hadi. What was waiting for him in Algeria?
When Hadi meets his charge, he is taken aback by the man’s seeming health and vitality, as he appears to be only 10 years Hadi’s senior, and rather hale and hardy. At first Hadi is understandably unhappy with his circumstances, and struggles to keep his displeasure and anger under control. But his charge proves himself a very compassionate, caring and loving man and slowly earns Hadi’s friendship and more.
I found myself really caring about this sweet, but hurt and lonely man that Hadi now finds himself living with. But Hadi’s charge, who he is growing to care about, also has a surprising secret (actually a few surprising secrets) – that I would never have imagined. I must give kudos to both authors, for I found this whole aspect of the story to be very compelling and I was fascinated by the fresh take on an old storyline for a protagonist. I couldn’t read fast enough to learn more about this man. But that’s all I’m saying about that dear friends.
The relationship between the two men is a slooooow burning ember that flickers to life suddenly when you least expect it, even as they both fight it. There is one very erotic finger sucking, come in your pants scene (the character people, not me!) that was as hot as a frot! The guys are both interesting and well drawn and the path of their relationship seemed realistic, no insta-love, not even insta-lust. The exploration and reinterpretation of religious themes, and the examination of biblical inhabitants was fascinating to me, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. If these ideas sound appealing, then I highly recommend The Keeper.