Reviewed by Christopher Moss
Fourteen stories by more than fourteen authors of gay romance offer a broad sampling of often unanticipated love. Tales, whether fanciful or familiar situations of daily life, which include the sometimes uneven quality of the selections, nevertheless will draw the reader into chance meetings, pursuits and even rekindled romances.
Among the better stories are:
Never Too Late, by Chris Quinton
So often gay love stories are about self-imposed barriers to fulfillment, and in this collection two are about one character’s belief that he is too old for his younger partner. In this story an older man, Stuart, is living with memories of a departed love when into his life comes Tom, a serious young man who despite Stewart’s age finds him fascinating and attractive. The story is told at a measured pace, the two men choosing to let their love grow unhurried, and the characters are so likable the reader wants to hurry them along.
Far From Home, by Serena Yates
A dog’s sixth sense and sacrifice leads to two lonely men finding each other under the worst of circumstances. Luca has just been driven from his parents’ home when he told them he is gay. Rescuing an injured dog, he meets the dog’s owner, Jonathan, whose first impression of him is distrustful and angry. Jonathan through embarrassment asks the homeless Luca to spend the next few days with him. What will it take to get the two to express a mutual attraction? This story feels like it comes in two pieces, with a fallow segment in the middle, but otherwise is extremely heart-warming and romantic.
A Return to Normalcy, by Anel Viz
Patrick is dealing with a manic lover, an ex-wife who has not given up on a relationship with him, her two judgmental parents, and his son, Basil, who seems to be the most level-headed of all. Viz’s dependable sensitivity to universal human vulnerability and portrayal of people with disabilities give the reader something real to grab and hang on to, not an airy and tacked-together set of characters and events.
Leap of Faith, by Lexi Ander
At his lover’s bachelor party Ben bursts from the stripper cake to find Xavier in a three-way. He is faced with not only the loss of a lover he intended to marry but the business the two of them had built together. When a leather-clad biker offers Ben a shoulder to cry on, he discovers the perfect life he thought he had is less than what he might have had. Can he overcome pressure, both from outside and within himself, to accept an entirely new life? The author succeeds in portraying the new life attractively while letting the characters from the old life do their own grave-digging.
Clean Monday, by A.J. Llewellyn and DJ Manly
This story starts out like a Trevor Project case study, with Aleczander surviving a suicide jump from the Golden Gate Bridge only to be saved by, of all things, a shark. The first thing he discovers is that not only does his Orthodox priest not condemn him for being gay, he supports him and helps him find meaning and friendship. When Aleczander meets Tommy, he discovers something otherworldly about the man. A gently told tale, the particular pleasure for the reader is hopeful, measured witness to the young suicide’s progress towards integration through love. The mystical element is offered simply and not rammed down the reader’s throat.
Despite these gems, the unevenness of the storytelling and presentation is puzzling. The trouble with several of the stories is what appears to be neglectful editing on the writer’s part. Unlike so many anthologies where the erotic content seems tacked on, it is the blossoming of lust into commitment that seems an afterthought in stories where the lead-in is seductive, the sex hot, but then a poorly established and abrupt declaration of unfailing love. You have to work for your reading pleasure, too, as most stories have several pages of reviews of other work by each author. This was a great inconvenience for this reader who had to listen to every syllable to get to the next story.
Silver Publishing, February 2013
ISBN: 9781614958581 (e-book)