I’ve read several novels now that deal with the conflict between homosexuality and religion, but Anthem is one of my favorites. Although Christianity is an integral part of both heroes’ lives, this is brought across in an understated way that never veers into preachy or moralistic territory, and without resorting to prose littered with quotes from scripture. Faith might be the overriding theme, but the story touches on a whole host of issues—the importance of being truthful with yourself as well as others, and the complexities of love and friendship.
By the Rules, the third book in the Evergreen Grove series, is this author’s first full-length foray into the male/male genre, but I sincerely hope it won’t be her last. There’s something so compelling about opposites attract romances, and the heroes in this story are as different as two people can be, at least on the surface. In addition to featuring vibrant characters and snappy dialogue, this novel explores the folly of making assumptions, and the importance of taking the time to get to know someone inside as well as out.
This is the second book by this author I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Because I enjoyed Spectacularly Broken so much, it was always going to be a hard act to follow, but Playing for the Other Team turned out to be a fast pace read packed full of drama and conflict. Coming out is rarely simple, and this novel does a great job of illustrating the turmoil that goes along with it, as well as the contrasting ways in which friends, team mates and family members handle the news.
As the title suggests, Painful Lessons is a novel of self-discovery and learning the hard way how important it is to recognize our own value. It’s about one young man’s experience of going away to college for the first time, sampling the freedom of being out from under parental supervision, and waking up to the responsibility that comes along with it. Most of all, it’s about making mistakes, as well as realizing the difference between a relationship that is harmful and destructive, and one that helps strengthen and nourish us as a person.
The realization that you’re simply not good enough to succeed in your chosen field, whether this involves reaching the top of the best-seller list or scoring goals for your country, must be one of the harshest lessons to learn. Yet, as the hero of Love on the Pitch discovers, it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world, even though it might feel like it at the time. If this story has taught me anything, it’s that often we have to be knocked down before we can pick ourselves up again and uncover the talents we never knew we had.
Being from the UK, I studied little in the way of American history at school beyond the civil war and abolition of the slave trade. My knowledge of the USA’s declaration of war on Mexico in 1846 was therefore embarrassingly sparse, at least until I read this story. Through the eyes of his hero, a young American Lieutenant, Christopher Hawthorne Moss brings both the conflict and major players to life, as well as exploring the reality of being gay in the military during the mid-nineteenth century.
As a visually impaired person myself, I have always been aware that there are a distinct lack of blind characters in fiction, unless it’s the wise old grandmother or the psychic whose inner eye compensates for their sight loss. Fewer still are portrayed as being in any way sexy or desirable. You can imagine how thrilled I was, therefore, when I discovered Huston Piner had created a blind character in his latest story, and even more so that this character was the hero’s love interest.
Kevin Reeves lives with his mother and abusive father and dreams of going to Dickerson University. Lonely and easily cowed, he works as a janitor to save money and signs up for night courses at the community college. There, he meets Dominic Pierce, a sexy emo who also happens to be blind. Kevin is immediately attracted to Dominic and soon a mutual attraction develops into a full-blown romance. After a violent confrontation with his father leads to Kevin moving in with Dominic, he discovers that the neighborhood gang is terrified of the blind emo, referring to him as El Sanguijuela.
It’s inconceivable to me how, in the modern age of multiculturalism and diversity, racial prejudice can still exist. Sadly, however, this kind of intolerance remains very much alive in all corners of society. There are some so fixated on preserving their customs and way of life that they shun any family member who dares stray beyond the cultural divide. This is something the teenage heroes in this sweet novella by Jeff Adams discover for themselves, and having once been in a similar situation myself, I was able to relate perfectly to their experience.
Getting together is often the easy part. Staying together through all the challenges and unexpected twists of everyday life can put strain on any relationship, especially when you’re young and inexperienced. For the heroes in Taking Him On becoming a couple is only the beginning. They might have taken the important step of confessing their feelings, but they still have a great deal of growing up and soul-searching to endure if they’re going to build something that will stand the test of time.