A mountain. A blizzard. A young man new to hiking and to love, making mistakes in both.
First year of college. A great time to re-invent yourself. Nathan Bartlett takes the opportunity very seriously—maybe a little too seriously. And he makes mistakes.
His mistakes? Falling for a straight guy who reminds him of his beloved older brother. Getting too invested in the substance abuse disorders of two other students. And climbing a mountain in a snowstorm for all the wrong reasons.
But he also develops friendships that will be his for life. He faces his inner demons and comes up with a plan. And he realizes that answers to important questions are seldom waiting on the surface but must be worked for, or struggled for, or suffered for—and sometimes all three.
Nathan is a trailblazer on his own journey. His success will be measured not by how well he follows someone else's path, but by whether he can forge his own. This first book in a series of three novels gets Nathan started on a journey that will teach him about himself, about life, and about love.
Walk with him.
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)