Genre: Gay/LGBTQ+; Romance; Erotica; Drama; BDSM
The only way to fall in love is to take the first step.
For Caleb, that first step leads to fear, violence, and the death of the only boy he’s ever loved. He won’t—can’t—admit who he is to himself. How could he ever share his deepest secrets with someone else?
Josaiah has known he was gay since he was seven. He’s experienced in more ways than one—with sex, with other men, and as a Dominant. But love is something he can’t accept or give, and he’s walled himself off from any kind of affection.
Can Caleb confront his ghosts and learn to love himself and his new Dom? Will Josaiah remember how to love, and be loved in turn? As Caleb and Josaiah take the first few steps toward each other, their pasts threaten to overwhelm their future.
Author also known as Kelanie Black.
I have reviewed these titles by Kelanie Black:
Blindly in Love (The Red Lair book 1)
Blind and Bound (The Red Lair book 2)
Blind and Free (The Red Lair book 3)
Blind and Broken (The Red Lair book 4)
Sweet and Frosty
When You Feel It
Claim Me, Love Me is an absolutely wholesome romance, though I will give it a trigger warning!
Despite sharing the struggle of being gay, Caleb and Josaiah have two totally different experiences. While Caleb suffers from PTSD after his school crush was murdered for being queer, Josaiah has always lived out and proud regardless of the hate he endured. Since Caleb is still in the closet, he rejects Josaiah’s advances upon their meeting, but regardless, neither can get the other out of their mind.
As someone who’s been diagnosed with PTSD, I really appreciate how the author presented the disorder in Caleb. It was realistic and well-explained.
Rather than merely stating the character has PTSD due to witnessing such a grisly event, she shows the reader the effects of that experience. Caleb is plagued with panic attacks, misdirected anger, anxiety about places/things that remind him of his triggering event, and a fear of being touched. He is quite literally homophobic. Not in the general sense of “oh I hate gay people,” but in that he is truly terrified of being gay or being around gays for fear of their/his safety.
This is where the first real taste of the wholesome nature of this story comes out. Everyone in the book (including friends, coworkers, and even strangers) take the time to talk Caleb through his anxiety. They may not know why he’s experiencing it, but every time he exhibits symptoms, whoever is around guides him through breathing exercises and reminds him he is safe.
Josaiah immediately recognizes that Caleb has deeper issues going on, a sense that is consistently reinforced in some pretty intense scenes. Even though telling himself not to get involved with a “closet queen,” he can’t help his Dominant personality’s need to take care of this broken boy. He even goes so far as foregoing his own needs as a sadist to try to heal Caleb.
Both men are damaged and end up lashing out or pushing the other away, only to forgive and work to be better together (more points for wholesomeness). Josaiah’s problems stem from having spent most of his formative years with foster families who harmed or disowned him for being gay. With him struggling to love instead of only relying on himself and Caleb’s resisting any notion of loving a man for fear of the outcome, Claim Me, Love Me is a rollercoaster of emotion!
That said, I also think it is the perfect example of how easy it is to create a healthy, positive environment and how far simple little things can go toward helping. Caleb’s friends and coworkers are pure and supportive, just as Josaiah’s adoptive family is. It was really nice to read a story where yes, the queer characters endured hardship, but in the end found themselves in places surrounded by love and happiness.
So many bonus points to the author for crafting such real psyches for her characters, all of which are completely unique to themselves and different from each other! Also, as a fan of Kelanie Black’s The Red Lair Series, I will note I adored seeing Caleb’s story and the callbacks to the events of that series ^_^
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((review submitted to Amazon and Goodreads))
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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