cover image On Chocorua: Book 1 of the Trailblazer series

On Chocorua: Book 1 of the Trailblazer series

Robin Reardon. IAM, $13.99 trade paper (298p) ISBN 978-0-9988414-8-9

Reardon (Thinking Straight) inaugurates her Trailblazer series with the heartfelt story of Nathan Bartlett, a gay college freshman searching for love and a sense of belonging. Nathan falls in love with a fellow student named Alden, but their relationship hits a snag. He crushes on a straight guy, Daniel, who asks him to climb Mt. Chocorua in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Nathan agrees in part to prove something to his outdoorsy brother, Neil, whom he worships. How Nathan navigates these relationships and finds a sense of self-worth are handled gently, but obviously. If there is a corniness to Nathan’s crush on Daniel and first romance with Alden, these aspects are also a bit charming, though Reardon takes a melodramatic turn with the death of Neil on his own hiking trip later in the school year. While Nathan’s narration in the first half of his home life, college experiences, and interpersonal relationships—including a situation involving fentanyl and hazing—comes off as ingratiating, the book hits its stride when Nathan and Daniel go hiking. The guys get lost, encounter a snowstorm, and confront mortal danger. As Nathan recounts the tale, he remembers his late brother and plans a new hike in his honor. Reardon’s empathetic tale offers comfort to lost souls looking for love. (Self-published)