I don’t often do review posts, because well, time mostly. But this book was such a joy to read, I clobbered the author over the head to let me have some details on it and feature it here so I could share with you what I thought of it.
Dystopian fiction no longer seems outrageously imaginative, does it? Humanity has so many current stresses and anxieties – the misuse of political power, enemies hard to grapple with face to face, societies riven and tribal, lies and propaganda, some people (different, not us, ‘other’) no longer seen as really human and worthy of care and respect, the threat of war more real than it has been for two generations.
This book is fitting for our times. Megan Reddaway cleverly creates an MC so ‘other’ he’s been isolated since birth, a subject for analysis and experimentation. Leo’s disassociation from all that’s normal (for a definition of normal that’s embodied in a failing society) is beautifully conveyed in his essential innocence. The powers that make him different and a life of deprivation and downright cruelty haven’t choked Leo’s intelligence and adaptability, and his gradual awakening to true friendship, loyalty and love is at the heart of this book as he and Cal, the untrusting off-the-grid woodsman, work to save baby Jae from the life Leo himself had led. As they run for the hidden haven in Colorado where they might find refuge, chased by the authorities and only one step ahead of capture and death, Cal and Leo reach an understanding of each other that bodes well for a future together. If there’s a future for anyone, that is.
I enjoyed this book. It’s beautifully written, with clear and concise prose. There’s a clarity about the style, a sort of sparseness, that echoes Leo’s character in its directness, and I rather liked that. It was cleverly done.
Love and survival—is that too much to ask?
Leo Park is an empath on the run. He’s escaped the secret research facility where he’s been held since he was six years old, but how can he survive without being captured? He has no money, all his ideas come from old movies, and he’s carrying his baby brother, smuggled out in a carton.
Cole Millard lives by his own rules in the Oregon woods, refusing to fear the world war that’s coming closer every day. Now his freedom is threatened by a naive 19-year-old with a baby in tow and a spooky way of knowing what Cole is feeling. But Leo is vulnerable and desperate. What’s a guy to do?
Shelter Me is a fast-paced dystopian gay romance novel set in a not-too-distant future, with a hot backwoodsman, a desperate fugitive, a six-month baby, and the world on the brink of an apocalyptic war.
Published: 23 January 2017
“Look, little bro, some of the trees are changing color—the ones that aren’t evergreens. I bet you were never up so close to a tree before. What do you think, shall we explore? You’d like that, wouldn’t you? We’re out free in a real forest, and who knows how much time we have together. We don’t have any special place to go, right?”
Jae waved his arms and said, “Bub-bub-bub.”
“Isn’t it prime? You can see leaves and birds and all kinds of stuff.”
Leo went on, carrying Jae and the bag separately, heading uphill, away from the road. It was good to have no people around, asking questions. He wasn’t used to strangers. But being alone, except for Jae, was weird, too. He caught himself checking for security cameras … in a forest.
He found a thin trickling stream and followed that awhile, then sat beside it and ate two bananas, playing peekaboo with Jae—the regular kind, hiding his face and peeking out. He tried Jae with some squished banana from his own mouth, but Jae spat it out, so Leo gave him more milk from the bottle. He sniffed around Jae’s rear. It didn’t smell, and Jae wasn’t uncomfortable, so the diaper must be okay.
Then he headed back to the highway, or he planned to. He went along the stream, but he couldn’t find the place where he’d come out of the trees.
“I know it’s downhill,” he said to Jae. “We crossed the stream a couple of times, but I think we started out on this side. Hey, here’s a place where someone’s come through. Maybe this was it.”
They went on down, away from the stream, following some kind of path. But it twisted and turned and went back uphill. He figured a path was a path—it must lead somewhere—and he kept on going. Then the way ahead was blocked. Leo stopped.
“The bushes weren’t so thick the way we first came up. I guess maybe we took a wrong turn somewhere?”
He concentrated his mind. If they were close to the road, he should sense people zipping through in their cars. But he only felt the low-level fears and hungers of small animals.
Maybe this was a quiet time for traffic. He waited.
Then he sensed one human. A stealthy, quiet mind, moving slowly, coming closer.
Leo’s heart pounded. He put Jae in the bag and started to run, crashing through the bushes, one arm over his face for protection against the scratching twigs, the other hugging the bag to his chest.
The hunter came after them, moving faster now, his mind focused, hyped on adrenaline. The guy knew Leo was close, knew he almost had them.
Clumsy with fear, Leo skidded on a patch of dry needles and lost his balance. He twisted so he wouldn’t fall on Jae. His head hit a tree trunk, and pain stabbed at his ankle. Dizzy, he tried to get up and couldn’t.
The hunter came into sight—a bearded, shaggy-haired figure in khaki, half hidden by the pine trunks. A figure carrying a shotgun, pointed right at them. A man whose mind was set on killing.
Leo pushed the bag containing Jae out of range behind a tree. Sorry, little bro, I did the best I could. Maybe you’ll hear about me someday. Then he turned his face away and waited for the bullet.
MEGAN REDDAWAY has been entertained by fictional characters acting out their stories in her head for as long as she can remember. She began writing them down as soon as she could. Since she grew up, she’s worked as a secretary, driver, waitress, and flower-seller, among other things, but she always has a story bubbling away at the same time. She lives in England.
For news of Megan’s male/male romance releases and two free stories, visit her website: http://meganreddaway.com