Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 05/07/2012
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Bisexual, Contemporary, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Gay, M/M Romance
Forty-five-year-old English professor Nathan Qells is very good at making people feel important. What he’s not very good at is sticking around afterward. He’s a nice guy; he just doesn’t feel things the way other people do. So even after all the time he’s spent taking care of Michael, the kid across the hall, he doesn’t realize that Michael’s mob muscle uncle and guardian, Andreo Fiore, has slowly been falling in love with him.
Dreo has bigger problems than getting Nate to see him as a potential partner. He’s raising his nephew, trying to leave his unsavory job, and starting his own business, a process made infinitely more difficult when a series of hits takes out some key underworld players. Still, Dreo is determined to build a life he can be proud of—a life with Nate as a cornerstone. A life that is starting to look like exactly what Nate has been looking for. Unfortunately for Dreo—and for Nate—the last hits were just part of a major reorganization, and Dreo’s obvious love for Nate has made him a target too.
Nate is 45 and is crushing on 32-yr old Sean. I can dig it. Where we begin in this story, though, is miles away from where we end up.
I liked the way this book opened, which was with dialogue rather well written, zipping along between two characters that know each other very well. I would experience later on some much longer exchanges that went on, well, too long, but this initial exposure to Mary Calmes held promise.
(Yes, truly, this was my first time reading a Mary Calmes book.)
The prose was sometimes less confident, feeling shaky and dealing in awkward phrases and character actions and reactions. Stating the obvious was often my thought, things being spelled out, not leaving much room for interpretation. I don’t like being told every little thing and it undermines the characters, their experiences, and my experience with them.
Speaking of, I liked the characters. Talk about a mix in many ways. Granted, what end up being the two main characters are somewhat cliche, but Nate and Dreo and Michael and Melissa and Jare and all of the rest are unique and play their roles well.
For my tastes, this book was silly, bordering on ridiculous and often crossing the line into full on head tilt territory. I figured out early on that I had to let go of expecting anything too serious or to be dealt with in a serious way (despite that possibly being the author’s intent?) and just roll with the craz. I sometimes enjoyed myself while reading, sometimes not so much.
Notice how much I’m using the word “sometimes”? That would be the easy way to sum up my reading experience with this book.
There are some good one-liners in here and, given how well some of the characters know and get to know each other, some humorous exchanges that had me smiling in commiseration. Nate had this solid center about him. He knew who he was and what he wanted. Well, mostly on the second thing. I understood that about him. I also understood his love and loyalty and caring and cherishing of his family. That was also well done in this book, the portrayal of familial relationships. Was it sometimes drama llama melodramatic? Yup. Did the huge hearts most of them hold and share comes through? Yup. Did that make up for the melodrama? Not always.
The main plot was not all that exciting and, for the most part, didn’t play a huge role in the story until towards the end of the book. It impacted the characters here and there, but most of the time was spent on those long passages of nothing but talking, no prose at all, or long paragraphs describing everything going on, most of which I’d just learned in the conversations. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for tension to build and be maintained. The story became rudderless, the pace losing steam in some sections.
I was intrigued by Dreo and it felt like his character was a bit underdeveloped. I think there was even more below the surface than we’re given. His impact on Nate’s life is undeniable and that felt right. Except, of course, when it felt odd or beyond unrealistic. Awkwaaaard was often the name of the game.
My best guess? This is one of those ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ kind of situations with this book and me. I liked the characters, the humor in some places, and the strong presence and importance of family. But these were sometimes overshadowed by the thin plot, that often experienced awkwardness, and everything else I’ve described.
This was a middle of the road read for me.
PS: several friends knew I was reading this and when I would offer up my reactions along the way, they would offer right back things like “classic Mary!” and “favorite comfort read” and “love the crazy”. So if you love Mary Calmes and haven’t read this, you’ll probably love it. 🙂
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
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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