Title: Regularly Scheduled Life
Author: The excellent K.A. Mitchell
Why this book? I bought the ebook not long after I read Mitchell’s Collision Course, which was one of my favorite reads for 2008. At RWA, I won the raffle/drawing she held, which included hard copies of her books in print and a beach bag of goodies. I brought the bag o’ stuff with me to the beach, along with the books, and pulled this one out to reread. [FWIW, the other contents of the bag were quite handy, and I especially loved the bubble wand :).]
Cover art: Well…generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of man-titty covers. But Mitchell lucked out with this one, because it is gorgeous. The fellow in the background looks a little young to be either of the characters (35 and 31), but still, very pretty.
It’s a long way back to happily ever after.
Sean and Kyle have enjoyed six perfect years of what their friends called a “disgustingly happy” relationship. But what happens one sunny Tuesday morning in October might be more than even the most loving couple can survive.
When the bell rings that morning in chemistry teacher Sean Farnham’s first-period class, a terrifying sound fills the halls – gunshots. Without considering the consequences, Sean runs to tackle the shooter, sustaining a bullet wound to his leg. Despite his actions, he is unable to save the lives of the principal and two students.
Architect Kyle DeRusso hears about the shooting on the radio and in the flash of an instant finds his life irrevocably altered. Everything – especially his heart – hands suspended in a nightmare until he finds out Sean is alive. It doesn’t matter that Sean will be left with a permanent limp. Kyle’s just relieved the worst is over.
Or is it? Putting that day behind them isn’t as simple as it sounds. As Sean struggles to make something positive out of the tragedy, Kyle fights to save their relationship from the dangers of publicity – and Sean’s unwillingness to face how the crisis has changed him.
What did I think? Well, for starters, this book has much more angst and seriousness than any of Mitchell’s other books to date. It would have to, since it touches on such a tender topic, violence in schools. I found the angst and the subject matter on the whole much easier to assimilate on the re-read than the original read. My struggle the first time through was entirely my own fault: I didn’t read the blurb, just bought the ebook based on the author, and was startled by the difference in tone and the conflict presented in comparison to the two other books I’d already read by her. Mistake on my part.
There are two conflicts within the storyline: one is the two heroes struggling to redefine their world in the aftermath of the shooting, and the other is their struggle (or lack thereof) to communicate with each other about those changes. Kyle just wants to make it all go away, to pretend it didn’t happen and go on as they were. Sean wants it to mean something, to make a difference, and doesn’t understand why Kyle doesn’t feel the same way.
Sex as part of their communication or lack is a skillfully used tool. (One of my complaints about m/m romance is that the plot is all too often interrupted by sex that doesn’t drive the story but sidelines it.) While there is some sex in RSL, there is comparatively little, and its appearance is used to highlight how they miss each other but also how they distract each other from things that matter. It’s easier to have sex than to talk, but in doing so they end up pushing each other away further.
It’s a stereotype, but half the time I wanted to roll my eyes and sigh, “oh, boys,” wishing someone would smack them both in the head and then make them sit down and actually talk to each other instead of around each other.
Was there anything that didn’t work for me? The end of the book came fairly quickly, and felt a little rushed. Sean’s grudging visits to a therapist seemed like a huge turning point (IMO) but they occur off the page and were never really addressed but for his acknowledgement that he went and was angry and had unresolved issues. It would’ve been nice to see him discuss and work out those issues with Kyle.
Ultimately, this was a pretty good book, although it isn’t my favorite by Mitchell. B/B+
Keep or pass on? Keep, of course.
Read other books by this author? Absolutely. I’m waiting impatiently for her next contemporary, and a historical.
Anything else relevant? If you go to her LJ, you’ll find prequel scenes for this book and her other books.
Piddly thing: the law suit. I get why Sean was named as a co-defendant and the suit’s importance to the plot, but after the school’s insurer settled, what was the cause of action remaining with respect to him? I’m not sure I believe that he (or any teacher) has a duty to know about a kid coming to school armed, or a duty to throw himself in front of a bullet for any of the students. I know, thinking too much, and not accepting that grieving parents do things that are not reasonable or logic-based. Also not a litigator or tort claims specialist, so what do I know?