Moving to Kansas City could be the best thing Austin Shelbourne has ever done. For a start, he can stop living a lie and finally come out of the closet. And there's a chance, though slim, that he might be able to locate the love of his life, Todd Burton. It had seemed like a good idea when he seduced his friend, but Todd freaked out and vanished. Austin hopes to find Todd, make things right between them, and win his love. But when he meets actor Guy Campbell, things get even more confusing. The moment Guy sets eyes on Austin, he knows Austin is The One. But Austin makes it clear he feels a responsibility to Todd, and Guy has some dark secrets of his own. He’s found redemption in acting and directing, but worries that if Austin learns the truth, he might not be able bear it. And what if Todd accepts Austin's apology and the love Austin offers? Guy wants Austin desperately, but he also wants him to be happy. In the play of life, with the happiness of good men in the balance, anything could happen.
To see things through the eyes of somebody else. This is why I read, my prime reason.
My secondary reason for reading is to step into shoes that I physically could never wear, hence my fascination with m/m romance. I will never be able to be a gay man, but I can try to understand what it might be like.
And this is what this second book in the series does (both are quite stand-alone, important for people like me), this book explores being a gay man, and what it can be like, for the first time, to enter a room where everybody understands who you are. It is coming of age, together with coming out. As such, it is a finely tuned and sweet story.
I smiled with Austin. A hugeass smile. Then I cried like a baby.
There were many first times in this story, and while there were a couple of instances of slut shaming that I really will never get behind (which cost the story its last half-star, the one that would have made it shine with a full five-power), there were so many other situations that simply made me slightly overlook the anger for the shaming.
(Perhaps I come from a different upbringing, because in Scandinavia, first we fall into bed to see if we fit, THEN we go out for dinner or cinema and such, in case the bed thing was smashing. So I have problems when people shame quick and dirty hook-ups, it is how we do it where I come from, boys and girls alike).
The love that young Austin receives from his Uncle Bodie is simply beautiful. And in fact, Bodie’s miserable keen threw me to my knees, and I cried like my whole future had been thrown into the shredder. Big, snotty, heart-breaking tears.
A secondary character that trotted into my heart completely is Lucille, the Pomeranian little lady. She was absolutely stunning.
This author manages to transmit very strong feelings, in addition to good lessons of life. I really like it. There are so many different male voices in here, and they all ring true—true to the specific characters. Sometimes slightly—shall we say— feminine? But they FIT. And then, sometimes, very rough and masculine, and again: they FIT.
Gramps and Gram were adorable. I am sure Guy fell head over heels in love with them, with the concept of them. The accepting family.
The only thing I thought was a little bit rushed was finally meeting up with Todd. The whole book was geared towards finding him, and then—poooof. Done. Could have received an added page to conclude more gracefully.
But all together, this was a very sweet read. I can recommend it both to those who have read and liked The Boy Who Came In From The Cold (the book from which this one spins off), but also for those who just grabbed this one for the pretty picture on the cover. (Yes, that is totally something I do all the time).
I think I need to check out more books by this author. His voice is good and strong and loving. All things I enjoy when reading.
I received a free ARC from the publisher, Dreamspinner Press. A positive review was not promised in return.
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