Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: BROTHERS by Ralph Josiah Bardsley

Ralph Josiah Bardsley


At twenty-three, Jamus Cork's plans are simple—graduate college, stay in New York City, and write. But those plans change when his parents are suddenly killed and he finds himself the guardian of his little brother, Nick. Jamus ends up back in the Boston neighborhood where he grew up, with a crying toddler on his knee and the challenge of building a new life for himself and the boy. Jamus somehow finds a way to navigate the ups and downs of single parenting, but over a decade of raising Nick, Jamus never truly overcomes his struggles with loneliness and the guilt he feels as the sole survivor of the crash that killed his parents. That changes when he meets bookishly handsome Sean Malloy. There's a spark between the two men, but both must face down their own private demons to find love in the Irish enclave of South Boston.

Brothers, explores the dynamics between two sets of Irish American brothers from South Boston.  Their lives meet in unexpected ways and, as they grow together they learn about bravery, love and being comfortable in their own skins. 

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Carra's Review

If you're the type of reader who likes stories that are heavy on exposition and character growth and development, Brothers will definitely fit the bill for you.  In terms of conflict and drama, there really isn't a lot in the first two thirds of the book, but during that last part things start to escalate and finally erupt, for Sean with his family but also between Jamus and his brother Nick.

For me, the first two thirds of the story moved more slowly than I'm used to, and there's a lot of background being covered.  I did feel a bit disconnected from most of the characters, and right from the beginning I was not at all fond of Grace, the woman who's been interested in Sean since high school.  I also had a hard time feeling connections between the characters themselves, but that may have been due to the family dynamics that were going on.

If I had to pick a favorite character, I would probably go with Sean...mostly because of the growth he experiences and the difficulties he has to face with his family (which by the way--his brother Kevin is pretty awesome with his support).  

Brothers is more of a drama than a romance.  There are romantic elements involved as Sean and Jamus develop a relationship, but that really is not where the story is concentrated.  It's more about the relationships between Jamus and Nick as well as Sean and his family, how their stories intersect and overlap, and how they all deal with everything they discover and all that happens along the way.  I think Nick's character probably goes through the most growth in the story, which is to be expected with his age for the majority of the book (14) and the events that occur at school and the things he discovers at home as well.

This book will make you think, and for me it also stirred feelings of anger (toward Nick's classmates and Sean's sister and father) as well as compassion (for Sean).  I can't say enough about how accepting and supportive Kevin and Nick are for Jamus and especially Sean.

While for me personally Brothers was a 3.5-star read, I think fans of M/M dramatic fiction will enjoy this tale of family, friends and learning how to be true to yourself.  Suggested for 18+ due to adult language.

About the Author

A little bit more about me – I was born in a small town outside of Boston. My dad was in the Coast Guard and so I grew up in a lot of different places – New Orleans, Cape Cod, North Carolina and Sitka, Alaska. When I wasn't in school, I spent most of my time in Coast Guard hangers or reading. Today I live in San Francisco where my hobbies include writing, running and wine tasting! Like everyone else I wear a few hats. I work in the high tech industry in marketing. I hold a bachelor's degree from Greensboro College and a master's in communication from Emerson College.
When I read a writer's bio, I usually want to know why they write - what makes them sit down at a keyboard and what do they hope to accomplish. When I ask myself those same questions, it's more difficult to answer. I've always loved writing - in any capacity. For a long time, I got enough fulfillment out of the writing assignments I did for work. I've written white papers on software, airlines, mobile technology and advertising practices. These were (and continue to be) great assignments and I absolutely love them - I get to learn about all sorts of cool new things all the time. But eventually I wanted to do something more personal. So I started a blog called BrandFiller. I recruited several contributors and we had a lot of fun for a year or so writing short form articles and posts about everything from hockey to fashion. Let me say - for me blogging was A LOT of work. It was rewarding, but I wanted to do something bigger - something that expressed bits and pieces of my own life and feelings in a work of fiction. So that's when I decided to retire the blog and try a novel. I never expected anyone would publish it. But the team over at Bold Strokes Books saw my manuscript for Brothers and decided to take a chance on me. You can be the judge of if they were right, when the book comes out on December 1, 2015. So what makes me sit down and write now? I guess just the opportunity to express myself and share that expression.
My writing comes from a combination of experience and imagination. My family - especially my husband Dana - is a big part of my inspiration. They're always pushing me to do more and I love them for it. I also love to travel, and I manage to work the details from the places I visit into the stories and the books I write. Someone once told me that the only true value you ever get for your money is travel - and I couldn't agree more.

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