Happy Release Day to A.M. Leibowitz and
Trevor Davidson has everything going for him. He’s just moved out on his own with three friends, and he’s landed a job as music director at a large Boston church. He has high hopes for marrying his long-term girlfriend and settling into a comfortable, devout lifestyle.
Andre Cole has spent the past few years throwing himself into a dead-end job at a Cape Cod-based call center. When an opportunity to move back to Boston arises, Andre believes it will be the do-over he needs to put his past behind him.
A chance meeting in a club on New Year’s Eve brings Trevor and Andre together for a brief but steamy encounter. Both assuming that’s the end of it, they are unexpectedly thrown back into each other’s lives when Trevor’s church hires Andre for their website design. While Andre is content at first to move on, Trevor’s conflicted feelings bubble over into his songwriting. Before he can stop it, his ode to Andre becomes an inadvertent Christian radio hit.
Unfortunately for Trevor, he isn’t the only one who knows the song’s hidden meaning. Someone has leaked the story and upended Trevor’s life. In order to put the pieces back together, he needs to learn to be honest with his girlfriend, with Andre, and especially with himself.
A sliver of light and the door thumping shut alerted him to the presence of someone else. His hands stopped moving, hovering over the keyboard. He looked up to see Pastor Bret standing at the back of the aud.
Trevor jumped, his face flaming, and he was glad for the dim light hiding the red flush he was sure marked his cheeks. “Uh…hi?” he squawked out.
“Don’t stop on my account,” Pastor Bret said. “The song is fantastic. You’ve been holding out on us, acting like you didn’t have anything big for the recording. Where’ve you been hiding that one?”
Covering his tracks, Trevor joked, “Under my hat.” His stomach churned.
“Uh huh. Well, I’d like to see you finish up your new song so we can use it. How long do you think it’ll take?”
“It’s about done, but—” He coughed, stalling while he worked out what to say to Bret to put him off. “I was thinking about changing some of the words, though. It’s not—I mean, it doesn’t specifically say God or Jesus, and it probably needs some other fixes. You know, so it sounds more…spiritual.” Trevor gritted his teeth in frustration as the inspiration for the song rose to the forefront of his mind.
Bret looked thoughtful. “I don’t know. Can you play it for me?”
All the blood which had previously rushed to Trevor’s face drained away, and sweat trickled down his neck to his collar. “I—”
“Not sure you want anyone to hear it til it’s perfect, eh?” Bret laughed. “Come on. Don’t worry that it’s not good enough.”
Oh, God, help me! Trevor prayed. “Okay,” he heard himself say, even though he’d really meant to say, No way in hell.
He played the opening chords and began to sing, quietly at first and then with more confidence. “You touch my heart…”
He immersed himself in the song and in the memories he’d drawn on to write it. It didn’t matter what it was about; he was perfectly capable of making it sound like a love song to his God. He kept his gaze trained on the chord sheet in front of him, not daring to look Bret in the eye just in case. When he was through, he let the note fade away and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see Bret’s reaction.
It took a moment, but Bret finally broke the silence. “Wonderful. I wouldn’t change a thing. When we have a thousand members all singing this together, they’ll all know who they’re singing it for.”
Trevor’s immediate reaction was, No, they won’t.
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About the author:
A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Ze keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, ze blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and hir family.
First off, thank you, dear author, for writing a story about two bisexual MCs, and not leaving the M/F off page.
Secondly, thank you again, dear author, for not tying up the end in a pretty little bow, and giving me a HFN that leaves Trevor, Andre and Marlie in a good place, with hopes for a future that will make them all happy.
Anthem is the story of a young man finding himself and the freedom to be who he truly is. It's the story of growing a spine and growing up, shedding the shackles, and forging your own way.
Trevor is the music director for a large Christian church in Boston, having just moved into a place of his own with three of his friends. One of them, Nate, shares a room with him. Trevor is also off-again, on-again dating Marlie, whom he expects to marry and have a family with, despite his dallying with Nate when he and Marlie are off-again.
Andre has recently moved to Boston to work for his friend Justin's company designing websites. After a personal tragedy, in which he lost his wife and unborn children, Andre isn't looking for a new romance, and his grief is obvious when we spend time in his head.
When their paths cross in a bar on New Year's Eve, Trevor and Andre have a hot, but short encounter in the men's room.
Afterward, Trevor can't forget the man, and his longing translates into a song he writes, which is then confused by his pastor for a song of worship.
Soon, the song makes it onto Christian radio and becomes a local hit. Except nobody knows that it's really a song about Trevor's men's room encounter.
What I liked about this story was the internal conflict. While Andre is willing to forget and move on, Trevor finds himself drawn to the man more and more, talking himself into a tentative friendship but soon finding it to be not enough.
Presumed straight by his church elders and Marlie, Trevor is reluctant to tell her about his bisexuality, even though his friend Nate (for not entirely unselfish reasons) and Andre recommend telling her the truth.
When he does, Marlie doesn't react positively, and Trevor seeks comfort with Andre.
I had my suspicions early on as to who was going to out Trevor, and while it was interesting how this unfolded, my suspicions were confirmed. It's a huge betrayal of trust, and while some may understand the motives behind it, I was appalled nonetheless. It also causes strife between Andre and Trevor, and while Trevor's panic was believable and understandable, I felt sorry for Andre who was cast to the side, as Trevor tries to figure out what to do.
I liked the lead-up to the climax, and the solution that was presented for all concerned at the end.
The author created a realistic story, with likable characters who all experience personal growth throughout, and some steamy scenes as well. Don't let the on-screen M/F scenes turn you away from this book, and don't focus too much on the religious parts either.
At its heart, this story is about figuring out who you truly are and finding the strength to not live a lie.
** I received a free copy of this book via Pride Promotions. A positive review was not promised in return. **
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