C., Cardeno. “Walk With Me (Home #7), Dreamspinner Press, 2014.
The Young Rabbi
Seth Cohen is a new and young rabbi-to-be who upon visiting Rabbi Avi Bloch who is to be his mentor meets Eli Bloch, the rabbi’s son, who once had a mad crush on him. When Eli sees him this time, he is determined to seduce him but Seth barely remembers him and thwarts all of his advances. The two men embark on a friendship and Eli knows he must ignore his feelings of love for Seth if he wants him as a best friend and this is difficult for him.
Seth is a professional in all that he does so quite naturally he finds Eli’s early behavior a bit shocking. Yet he is also drawn to Eli and somewhat admires his openness of his sexuality. The two men indeed develop a friendship that matures and deepens over time and there is mutual admiration and respect between the two. Then there comes a time that Seth realizes that he wants what Eli had so easily offered him once and he understands that it could cost him his career.
We follow Eli and Seth over thirteen years. Early on we learn that Eli had fallen in love with Seth from afar when he first saw him at summer camp when he was only eleven years old and Seth was a junior counselor. (This is starting to sound familiar). The reader first meets Eli some seven years later when he is eighteen and out as a gay man. Now when he sees Seth who is twenty-seven, he cannot seem to help display the way he feels.
Seth is also interested in Eli early on but cannot show how he feels. He just cannot allow himself to exhibit any feelings for Eli even though he is aware that he does have them. Seth is bisexual but he has avoided feeling anything for other men and dates women.
Cardeno writes with emotion and I have learned that is a characteristic of his prose. In fact, he does so in a way that we do not even realize that he is doing so. Carderno knows the Jewish religion well and he is completely accurate in the details he uses.
I really enjoyed the differences between the two main characters with Eli being so over-the-top about who he is and with Seth maintaining that rabbinical seriousness. (Let me tell you from my own experiences that I have friends who are pretty wild rabbis). Even though Seth admits to himself that he feels an initial attachment to Eli, he also considers the age difference between them. Besides Seth has really never considered himself to be gay. Yet he feels something for Eli and he wants him to be part of his life. They become best friends and confidants and eventually lovers but first Seth has to deal with his own feelings.
Eli had known from the time that he was eleven that he wanted Seth and I think it is here that we see the way youngsters today approach their sexuality. This is so unlike the way it was when I was growing up when everything was a big secret.
There is a lot of humor in the story also. Each chapter has a printed wedding invitation which says something about the kind of wedding it is to be along with the names of the couple, the date and an interesting quote and we are to see these weddings as stops along the way to the happiness of the heroes. The story is told from both Eli’s and Seth’s points of view and in this way we see how misconceptions play a part in the story. There are also some very hot sex scenes and Seth’s sexual prowess may surprise you.
The last chapter is the wedding of the two and I was as happy as were the two grooms. This is one of those books that you read for pure pleasure and I am pretty sure that Cardeno wrote it with pleasure. I am still smiling.