Marked by Grief - Caitlin Ricci This review can be found at The Armchair Reader.

When I started this story, I was expecting to deal with some angst but I wasn’t expecting much of it because of how short the book is. To my surprise, and delight, you’re immediately thrown into the grief and mourning that Kit is experiencing. Losing his best friend and brother, Bear, to a drunk driver hit Kit really hard. He’s no longer the fun, happy kid anymore but instead he’s angry, desolate and feels abandoned by his family and friends. When he receives news about the man that hit Bear, he works up enough courage to finally leave the house and inform his brother’s best friend, Jason. What comes to light from their meeting together is unrequited feelings of love, secrets and intense passion. Kit may think he’s broken but Jason knows he just needs much needed support to get his life back and move on from the pain of his lose.

Emotionally and physically scarred characters are probably my favorite things to read about. I love learning about their issues and how they’ve retreated into their shell because of them. In this story, Kit is physically scarred from the same accident that killed Bear and also emotionally damaged from losing his best friend and brother. He’s letting himself lose all aspect of life and retreats into his room without eating or seeing anyone for days at a time. He’s harbored a secret love for his brother’s best friend, Jason, but always thought Jason was straight. Jason has felt the same, however, except he always thought Kit would come to him when he was ready to be educated on sex. Jason doesn’t do relationships, though. He doesn’t like attachments but his desire to help Kit when he realizes how bad Kit is taking everything makes him accept his love for the younger man and act on it.

I honestly loved this book. While it deals with grief, it also has sweet moments that made me smile in pure delight because of how gently, but firmly, Jason handles Kit. There’s a bit of BDSM to it for those of you that don’t like this stuff but I loved how everything was handled. Kit isn’t all of a sudden okay with Bear being gone but with Jason’s help he’s coming to accept it. I loved the connection between Kit and Jason because it felt very real to me. Plus, I’ve always had a soft spot for books with ‘brother’s best friend’ themes to it. Beyond that, I felt like Jason handled Kit rather well. He was straight with Kit about how it would be to have a relationship with Jason and let Kit make up his own mind because Jason lives a BDSM lifestyle and Kit needed to be aware of that. I found it rather hot the sex they had together as well (then again, I enjoy kinky sex more than vanilla sex ;) ). Introducing Kit to Jason’s hidden secret made Kit realize he has a bit of the same desires in himself. The way the BDSM was handled was great, it’s not too intense but it’s not like some other books where it’s very mild to the point you can barely call it BDSM. A perfect mix in healing Kit and touching on the more taboo lifestyle, IMO.

My only reservations about the story is that it was a bit too short. I would have liked to see how their relationship progresses and see how Kit is doing as well as what he plans to do with his life now that he’s getting back on track with the living and how Kit’s parents take his relationship with Jason. I also felt like Kit’s family were rather cold. For a family that was so close before the tragic accident, they treated Jason better than they treated Kit. Which I found extremely horrible and hated. I was also confused on the time-frame. I couldn’t figure out exactly when Bear died. I kept thinking during the summer but then thought maybe it happened over winter break? It was never clear to me.

Overall, this was a great book. It has enough angst to make you feel but not so much you feel as if it’s cloying and unnecessary. More than that, you feel like the grief is genuine, it’s heartbreaking even though you don’t actually experience the event that causes all these emotions. Kit and Jason talk things out, Kit spills his heart out to Jason and Jason accepts and tries to help Kit in the only way he can, by being there and supporting him. I enjoyed their discovery of each other and their way of healing. I hope there’s more to come of these boys!