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The Strength of a Man

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  80 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Kurt Dennings learned one life lesson the hard way: love, even between a parent and child, is not always unconditional. After coming out and experiencing a painful rejection from his parents and friends, Kurt feels as if he's lost everything that mattered.

James Theard comes into Kurt's life when he needs someone the most. A friend first and boyfriend second, James becomes
ebook, Expanded, 116 pages
Published June 14th 2012 by Sara Winters
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Cross-posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf Inflicted

Kurt Dennings is a college freshman and a good swimmer with a lot of potential. James Theard is the swim team captain who volunteers to help Kurt refine his technique and get him in shape for the team’s first match. What holds Kurt back is a lack of confidence in his abilities, and the feeling that Coach Davis’ decision to take him on the team was influenced by his friendship with Kurt’s father. As if that’s not enough, Kurt recently came out
3.5 stars
This is an extended version of last year's Starting Over and I must thank Arthur for bringing this to my attention. Truthfully, I don't remember much about the short story that becomes the basis on this one, so in a sense this feels like reading a new one.

There are two important issues here, regarding Kurt and his journey of falling in love with his swimming team captain, James. First is how Kurt handles the fact of him being disowned by his family, after he came out to them by writing
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

This book is an extension of last year's Don't Read in the Closet short story Starting Over. It's about Kurt, a freshman swimmer who got a private training by James, the school's team star. In the short story, we get a glimpse of Kurt's mother coming to the swimming event. Considering his parents had all but disowned him when he came out couple months before, it was a surprise for Kurt. In this book, that visit is developed into one of the two plots. The other plot is about Kurt's probl
Cole Riann
Review posted at The Armchair Reader.

I never read the original story that was then expanded into this book. It was part of last year's Goodreads M/M Romance Group's Hot Summer Days, and like many of those stories I missed this one. I'm glad now, because I really loved reading this novella and I can't imagine having read this story and not gotten all I did here, in this expanded edition. There's quite a bit of angst (well, for me -- not really for others probably), but it is very necessary to the
Mandy*reads obsessively*

This was a nice sequel or at least an extended version of the free HSD story Starting Over.
Kurt came out to his parents and it went very poorly, he also has past trauma to deal with.
James is on his swim team and takes him under his wing and helps him out, they develop a friendship that quickly turns into a relationship.
All in all it was a sweet story of young love and reconciliation with your past and your future.
I had a few niggles, like it wasn't always clear who was thinking things, at l
Awilk -never sleeps-
3.5 Stars

A short read that was realistic and touching. I liked the way that these two young men didn't just jump into a physical relationship, and that the healing that Kurt needed was undertaken, and that it wasn't just a case of love fixing everything.

I would definitely try more by this author.
Anna Goerlitz
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, on-the-blog
2,5-3 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Warning: The following review may contain minor spoilers

This is an extended version of an earlier free story, and I am glad that the author mentions this in the foreword, as I had a strong sense of dejavu when I read the first paragraph.

Kurt is a freshman in college and on the swim team. He came out to his parents before he left for school, and it did not go down well. The stresses in his personal lif
Mar 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-review-copy
A free copy of the book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Strength of a Man is a sweet story about two college students - Kurt and James - falling in love and also dealing with Kurt's personal issues of pain from past boyfriends and rejection from both the boyfriends and his parents. It is novella length and was a quick read. According to the author, it is an expansion of a free short story (Starting Over); I have not read the short story.

I liked Sara Winters'
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reviewed for Hearts On Fire Reviews

Good heavens, poor Kurt. You want to scoop him up and hug him. He wants to be accepted for who he is, and though he knows his father will have issue with it, he has hope for his mother. That isn’t to be when he leaves a carefully worded letter explaining he is gay. To make it worse, not only do his parents reject him, but his two closest friends, who he thinks will be in his corner and convince his parents he is the same son he was before, also reject him. Deva
Veronica of V's Reads
I received a review copy of this book via Goodreads' Don't buy My Love program. 4.5 Stars.

Kurt is a freshman on the varsity swim team at NYU. He has only been at school a few weeks, but they've been bad weeks. He left a letter at his Philly home telling his parents that he was gay, and their response was to shut him out. Kurt's tension and frustration is translating to his swimming, so the coach has team captain, James, give Kurt some extra technique training.

James is an openly gay man. He's cer
Apr 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: dbml
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author for an honest review.

I'm very middle of the road on this one, I didn't love it and I didn't hate it...but it didn't stick with me when I was done either.

Kurt is a freshman on the swim team at NYU who falls for and starts dating the captain of the swim team, James. I really liked James he's thoughtful, caring, and considerate. But I think he let Kurt's issues linger just a little to long.

Ok so Kurt had just come out to his parents, via letter
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
It was a nice and easy read. I just found the storyline with Kurt's hang-ups was too drawn-out and the timeline was a bit unclear, especially at the end. A simple epilogue might have been better.
3.5 stars
Apr 09, 2014 rated it liked it
2.75 stars. Kurt is not in a good place. A freshman in college, he lost his family and friends after coming out to them believes he’s getting kicked off the swim team due to his poor performance. Add to the mix some past relationship trauma and Kurt is lost in a sea of insecurity. He meets with James thinking he’s getting the axe from the swim coach but instead the coach as asked James to help Kurt with his technique. Not only that, James comes on to him. A little flirtation later, and they star ...more
Roger - president of NBR United -
I got this book for free in exhange for an honest review through the DBML program of M/M Romance group at

I thouuroughly enjoyed this quick read of a comfort story. Kurt Dennings is a freshman on the swim team at NYU. just before he started college he left a note telling his parents that he is gay. James Theard is the captain of the swim team. Because Kurt's parents didn't take the news well, Kurt is having problem at swim practice. The coach has James, who is also gay, give Kurt s
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is the continuation of Starting Over, the free short story for the MM Goodreads group by the same author. The short story makes up first 20-25% of this book and is mostly unchanged. The author builds on the story and takes you even further into the relationship between James & Kurt and Kurt and his family. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet college romance with a HFN ending.
This is the first book I’ve read by Sara Winters, and I have to say I’m impressed by this short story. She really captures the angst and emotional trauma that one of her heroes, Kurt, goes through, and even though they’re a lot of things going on with him, it’s not overly done and the romance between Kurt and James really made this a lovely read.

Kurt has recently come out of the closet to his parents and to his dismay and heartache, they have rejected him. As a member of his college swim team, h
PJ Mooney
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: The author furnished a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Kurt Dennings is damaged goods. He’s just started his freshman year in college, but already his heart has been broken three times. Once each by the first two men he fell for; then by his parents’ rejection when he came out to them. Now, he finds himself falling in love with James Thearn. Will Kurt ever be able to confront and accept the pain others have inflicted on him? Can he grow to see himself as a goo
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book started off so beautifully. The first scene was very well written and left me with a clear picture of a man who is in the middle of some deep emotional upheaval. Kurt is on the swim team and due to his problems his performance is lacking. He thinks he's about to be tossed off the team. But instead his coach enlist James, a teammate to help him out.
Their fist session is right after this first scene. Kurt goes from depressed to not b
I received The Strength of a Man from the author through the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Don’t Buy My Love Program.

This story is told in third person through the eyes of Kurt Dennings and James Theard two students on their college swim team. This is a longer version of the 2011’s Don’t Read in the Closet short story, Starting Over. I didn’t read the short story so I can’t compare this version with the other, but can give my thoughts on this one.

(view spoiler)
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dont-buy-my-love
This is the poignant and romantically told story of two young college aged men. Both on the swim team, Kurt's performance is suffering. When James, the team captain, is asked by the coach to offer Kurt some pointers one-on-one, sparks begin to fly. It's immediately apparent to Josh that Kurt is carrying some pretty significant emotional damage from past relationships. His recent coming out has estranged him from his friends and family, who didn't take his announcement well at all.

James has been
I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Hm. Well, I want to give this book 4 stars, but I didn’t love it quite that much. It’s a shorter story, and that somewhat limits the story arc. However, I’m actually pleased with where this starts and how much time passes and how the relationship grows. Kurt is struggling in the beginning, having just come out to his family and friends, who all rejected him. James has already been there and lived through it.
The TBR Pile *Book review site*

I really loved the characters and enjoyed the hurt and care for elements but James went from “in a relationship you show your emotions with sex” to “I can hold out forever”. I picked up that there was growth due to age and finding someone he loves however there isn’t really a show of that progression in the book. I loved that James wasn’t some magical cure for the issues that Kurt had, there was therapy and time. The book was very real and raw. Some of the
Dec 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Suze by: Free read
Kurt and James, are swim teammates and after a bold move by James, become boyfriends. Its not plain sailing as kurt has lots of issues - which are explored in the book and if not resolved, at least working towards resolution.
What I liked was that the was no easy fix to Kurt's problems. James I think deserved a medal.
What didnt sit right for me - Kurt's insecurities did grate a bit at times, I didnt get a feel for James as very little backgound on him, sometimes the story seemed to jump forward q
(This book was received free in return for an honest review.)

The Strength of a Man is an extended version of a short story entitled Starting Over. I had read the short at least twice in the past year and enjoyed it. The extension was a lovely addition to the relationship between Kurt and James. Kurt is dealing with the emotional fallout of abandonment by his parents and two prior miserable relationships. James becomes Kurt's shoulder to cry on and steady rock to hold on to.

Additionally I liked
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book free for review from the author through the DBML (Don't Buy My Love) program in the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads.

This is an expanded version of Sara's Starting Over she wrote as a short a few years ago. I really enjoyed this version of the story. It allows for more insight into the MCs thoughts and feelings and allowed for more development in their relationship.

I think this was a very good book highlighting issues with being let down by your family and hurt by previous sex
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a nice expansion on the story from last year's HSD free story from the M/M Romance group. From the beginnings of James helping Kurt and the growth of their relationship, we see the ways that Kurt has been hurt in the past - but his former lovers and by his family. James is a really good boyfriend. We get to see both his frustration and his true caring for Kurt. I liked the ending that was not idealized or unrealistic.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. I received a free copy for my review. I like how James was willing to wait for Kurt to be ready for sex. The swim team aspect was interesting. This book is different from my usual reads but I enjoyed it. It was pretty short though.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
I liked the potential of this story but it never came to pass. It seemed like Kurt was all over the place, one minute he hated someone, the next it seemed like all was forgiven. I couldn't keep up.
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great story. Glad that she continued the short story of "starting over."
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I read. I write. I talk too much and don't blog nearly as much as I should. And my muse consists of several voices in my head with a moody ringleader. Don't be scared of the voices. They mean well (most of the time).

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