A romantic drama by Liam Livings
Author: Liam Livings
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Cover Artist: Meredith Russell
Rating: 3.0 of 5 Stars
Should you settle for a nearly perfect happiness or put your heart on the line for more?
It’s 1999 and 28-year-old Dominic’s carefully planned suburban life with his boyfriend Luke is perfect. His job as a nurse, his best friend Matt, his relationship with his parents, everything is just right. He and Luke have been together ten years, seen each other through friends’ deaths and their parents’ ups and downs, and even had a commitment ceremony.
Gabe isn’t happy with his boyfriend, but he stays with him, because, well it’s complicated.
Fate throws Gabe into Dominic’s life. And then that happened. Gabe’s open relationship, impulsive nature, enthusiasm for life and straight talking advice are fascinating to Dominic. They’re friends, they click over a shared love of Goldie Hawn and Gabe shows Dominic there can be more to life than planned and safe. So why can’t he take his own advice?
And Then That Happened is about finding a new kind of happiness, even when what you have is already perfect. And how sometimes perfect isn’t quite what it seems.
I shouldn’t have agreed to review this romantic drama by Liam Livings, as I have connections that make this difficult for me to review. However, I have read and really liked both of the author’s Friends Perfect books and am looking forward to number three, which comes out early next year.
This novel did not work as well for me though, which was a shame as there were some moments of wonderful writing , which I shall come to later. The main problem was the editing. I am not talking about typos or the odd grammatical error, as long as they are just the odd human error I ignore them, although in an ideal world they would not be there either. One of the main problems was the structure of the story.
I like flashbacks or back stories, and they can be told out of sequence as long as the reader can find their way back to the story immediately after, this didn’t happen here. At certain points I became confused as to why we were seeing more about an incident when it played no part in the current narrative. This was not helped at all by mistakes like the following chapter heading and first sentence:
I met Luke in 1999. We were both eighteen and I’d just come out…
There was a ‘son’ who was referred to next sentence as a ‘little girl’; roller skating that became ice skating then roller skating again; the word ‘burly’, which had quite a few mentions was spelled ‘burley’ (a kind of tobacco); phrases were not thoroughly checked so for example,
…I felt less begrudging towards my time with her… or… Keeping them becomes bigger than what the secret in the first place.
Underneath the structural problems regarding the narrative, and the errors of the type I have mentioned above, there was a good story to be told. Again it would have been slightly better if it had been edited tighter, so that the exposition didn’t take over the story quite so much.
I liked seeing a story about relationships which just ended, people who just fall out of love with each other after expecting to spend their lives together. This is real life. Not all love stories have explosions and insta love or complicated misunderstandings and angst. Real life is painful and takes time. I think the author took a risky decision to call it And Then That Happened because the whole premise of this story seems to be that often nothing does. I really felt for Dominic he was a very well written character if a little indecisive. Likewise Dominic’s Mother/Mum was a wonderful if self obsessed character and I totally fell for Dominic’s Dad, but one of the gems of this novel was the visceral way Liam Livings described depression. In one scene he passes a junk-yard full of the rusting shells of cars;
That was the thanks they got for faithfully serving families for years, taking them on the school run, to work every day, to the supermarket, and now they were just thrown away. I felt my body shaking as I sobbed next to the fence. I cried for the souls of dead cars…
This is near the beginning of his ‘Depression’ and there are some superb metaphoric descriptions for his illness throughout. Liam Livings also covers the reality of living with HIV and AIDs in a sensitive but believable manner. I did become very tearful in certain chapters and they were written with a very personal sounding authorial voice. This did not make for an upbeat or happy read, although there is not a huge amount about the depression it was felt in the tone of the narrative throughout the novel. There is a happy ending, but it took too long to happen for this reviewer.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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