Review – Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Katie Porter

Came Upon a Midnight Clear cover image
Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: 27 Nov
How I got this book: ARC from the author

Born to old Virginia money, film producer Kyle Wakefield’s conservative upbringing kept him in the closet. Only once did he venture outside: for a tempestuous teenage affair with Nathan Carnes. When Nathan’s self-destructive streak landed him in prison, Kyle slammed the door on youthful hopes. Despite Hollywood successes, he still hides his true self.
He thought he’d moved on, until his production company hires Nathan and his Second Chances stunt crew to work on the London set of a big-budget action flick. Watching Nathan risk life and limb with fellow ex-cons looking for a fresh start makes it tough for Kyle to keep his desires hidden.
Thirteen years have passed since Nathan’s teenage self-doubt led him to sabotage any chance of a future with Kyle. He’s come a long way since then, but despite their explosive sexual chemistry, Kyle treats their attraction like a deep dark secret.
Their matched Hollywood ambitions and a pain-in-the-ass director make cooperation essential. As the London holiday season casts its spell, the two men find themselves on the verge of falling in love again—even as old secrets and pain keep them shackled. The only hope of unlocking their hearts is a Christmas miracle.
Warning: This book features a snowy London Christmas, sex on a pool table, a hot-and-dirty gay nightclub, and naughty references to candy canes.

This blurb came from the author’s website here.

I was pondering why I haven’t read very many m/m stories the other day and then I realized it is because I am worried that the characters will be feminized. I am completely aware that some relationships that have one partner more masculine or more feminine than the other but what tends to draw me to read a m/m or a m/m/f ménage is the masculine friction, competition, testosterone, and overdose of manliness. The writing due of Katie Porter had already demonstrated individually and as Porter that they write very strong men so I was extremely curious to see how they would translate that to a m/m. I am very glad to say that my reaction at when I finished reading was just “OMG!”

Porter had me completely hooked by the end of the very first scene with Kyle and Nathan. Not only was I hooked but I had serious doubts about how they were going to pull off a HEA because of everything stacked up against them, not just externally but their own internal feelings from their past history. Kyle and Nathan grew up together and had a very deep teenage relationship. Then one night Nathan was arrested and ended up sentenced to prison for three years. Kyle and Nathan had one last conversation then didn’t speak again for 13 years. During the intervening time Kyle became part owner of a successful production company in Hollywood and Nathan started one of the country’s best stunt crew companies. They meet in London for the filing of a big budget production because Kyle had hired Nathan’s company. He had his partner Steph handle all of the dealings with Second Chances, Nathan’s company, so Nathan did not know Kyle was involved. Nathan certainly made his displeasure at the circumstances evident in his treatment of Kyle that first night.

Kyle grew up with money and a very conservative strict family. They did not tolerate anything that didn’t fit their rich, conservative image so he has been forced to keep his orientation a secret. This also meant that he kept his relationship with Nathan a secret as well. Even after the end of their relationship, Kyle still kept his orientation a secret. He blamed it on the Hollywood atmosphere and that he thought he wouldn’t be able to get a job because of people’s prejudices. As a result he hasn’t had a relationship since then and only a few furtive hidden encounters. Kyle does bring Second Chances up as an option for the stunt crew company but he is also businessman enough to let others make the decision to hire Second Chances based on their merit. Kyle had so much internal growing to do about himself and who he was instead of who he thought people wanted him to be. My heart broke for him time and time again as he tried to demonstrate that he never stopped caring about Nathan while juggling his “image.”

Nathan, such a tough guy on the outside and so soft and wounded on the inside. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like his character initially but then as I started to see underneath his layers I could understand his combination of anger and fear. He needed a big gesture to show that Kyle loved and WASN’T ashamed of him. At the same time Nathan didn’t really want to show his vulnerability to Kyle because of his past disappointments. While Nathan did have a serious relationship post prison that ended because he never stopped caring about Kyle. In fact the secret he reveals to Kyle towards the end of the book made my heart just melt.

Watching the two men together was fascinating. While Kyle had a different personal style then Nathan neither of them was the type to back down and let the other run things. Kyle did tend to enjoy a bit more pain with his pleasure but I think a little bit of that was guilt over the fact that he left Nathan in jail and never contacted him again. Nathan wasn’t blameless in their split but he has always been more accepting of his orientation felt that he wasn’t good enough for Kyle. They went back and forth between anger and good times. When they two men weren’t thinking they just enjoyed themselves and I could see how it had been and how it could be if they could reclaim their love.

One of the other things I enjoyed about Porter’s book is the interaction with the supporting characters. Not only do they act as foils for the main characters but they also have personality and back-story that makes them interesting in their own rights. For example I really want Steph’s story because she knows Kyle, shields him, and yet doesn’t let him get away with things. She demands that he recognize that there is a price for everything and that he has loyalties/obligations that must be fulfilled regardless of his feelings towards Nathan. She also calls him on the fact that he knew who owned Second Chances and that he wasn’t likely to be happy when he spotted Kyle. Then there was Nathan’s crew and they were a lot of fun too. They bonded in the worst of situations and proceeded to make the best of life. I hope to see more of them in future stories.

Porter has once again proved that they can write incredibly moving stories. As I said earlier my overall reaction was “OMG” in a very good way. I got my fill of manliness and male competition yet the two guys were able to work their way through their issues without becoming feminine. I was invested not only in their relationship but also in the danger of the stunts and several times I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I found Came Upon a Midnight Clear a very complete story with great characters.

I give Came Upon a Midnight Clear an A

Links to purchase
Kindle | Nook | Samhain

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