Author: Richard Natale
Publisher: Bold Strokes Publishing
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 02/01/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Gay Fiction, Romance
Sexual chemistry and the search for real love can be a combustible mixture.
When the hunky young Anthony Ragucci falls for his dream man, a handsome attorney named Hunter Reese, his happily ever after fantasies are threatened by the meddling of the dashing and haughty Robert Burke. His loyal cousin Frank quickly rushes to Anthony’s defense, only to find his efforts hampered by a growing attraction to the inscrutable Robert.
Ultimately, the two cousins discover that Love on the Jersey Shore is a sink or swim proposition. Watch out for the undertow!
<p>I was about halfway through this when the penny dropped. Richard Natale has taken Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and transformed it into a gay love story set in New Jersey in the 21sts century. I loved that.
<p>I was less enamored by the matter-of-fact flatness of the prose. The opening 20% reads like a newspaper article. It’s not badly written, but has none of the sly wit that Austen brought to her stiff English story-telling (see, once you’ve made me think of Austen, the comparison is inevitable).
<p>But the story still caught me up: cousins and lifelong best friends Anthony and Frank Ragucci, blue-collar Italian boys from down the shore (although why Natale needed to create a fictional town, named Beardsley, rather than just stick to a real shore town, I can’t say). Even as cousins, they love each other as few real brothers do. Although the story of their complicated falling in love journey is well told and convincingly portrayed, I’d have liked a more leisurely build up, rather than the dryish reportage that takes us through their childhoods and high school years.
<p>And, I confess, having been a Kinsey 6 from the age of 13, all this emphasis on how straight-acting they were as boys, how many girls they bedded in spite of being gay (doesn’t that make them bisexual somehow? I will never understand how that works, having never wanted to kiss a girl much less anything more) sort of put me off. But given the blue-collar Italian context, I guess I have to roll with it.
<p>Ultimately the story won my heart in spite of the tell-not-show style. The stereotyping of Ivy League WASPS is a little annoying (since my best gay friend in the world was my friend at Exeter and my roommate at Yale), but Austen was not above making fun of the snobbish rigidity aristocracy either. The parallel between Hunter and Mr. Bingley; and between Robert and Mr. Darcy, just made me smile.
<p>I am always happy to find more gay male writers of m/m fiction. When the financial imperative seems to want gay men to write straight fiction, it soothes my soul to see other gay men write what’s in their hearts and for an audience that reflects who they are.
I would like to thank the publisher 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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