I am just on top of the world this morning! I got an excellent review on my new story, “How Could Love Be Wrong?” I am doing the damned Snoopy Dance! *throws confetti*
This is a pretty big deal. The review was done at a site called Jessewave and for those not in the know, it is only one of the penultimate review sites for Male/Male romances.
And I got 4.75 stars out of 5. I am just on top of the f*cking world!
If you want to check it out, click here to read, OR, you can find it right here at this post under the cut. But beware!! There are some serious spoilers.
The reviewer’s words: “A beautiful, moving story that transported its serious message with heartfelt honesty.”
I am just thrilled that as the review continues, the reviewer cut right to the chase, saw exactly what I was trying to do, and understood that any short comings were due to the length of the story. Dreamspinner Press only gave a certain word count limit for the stories for this series. Every day this month they are releasing a story in their Daily Dose “First Time For Everything.” Stories had to be about first times.
From true love’s first innocent kiss to finally getting down and dirty on the kitchen floor, there’s a first time for every sort of cherry to be popped. Whether discovering the ravenous thrill of sex or the heartwarming power of romance, these men are going to take the plunge and try something new—something romantic or kinky, daring or safe, passionate or relaxed, even comforting or scary—all in the name of love. The First Time for Everything Daily Dose package delivers 30 M/M stories about all kinds of first times.
And so “How Could Love Be Wrong?” was my answer to the challenge.
And here is the review! Again, be warned! She has a lot of spoilers!
The Review: As an eighteen-year-old, Clay was in love with Matthew, a preacher’s son. They started out as best buds, practically in first grade, and grew and matured together, their friendship slowly turning into more. Even back then, Clay knew he wasn’t interested in girls, not at all. Matthew, on the other hand, kept talking about finding the right girl. As long as Matthew was only talking, Clay could fool himself. But one day Matthew broke up with Clay in a very harsh way, quoting bible verses and demanding Clay “grew up”, making it clear it had all been a game to him. Matthew broke Clay’s heart so badly that Clay went home, grabbed a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills and set about swallowing them all.
Luckily, a neighbor’s daughter came by right then and found Clay in time. Sherry didn’t judge him when Clay blurted out all his pain and heartbreak, but comforted him and offered him her friendship. With Matthew gone, Sherry quickly became Clay’s best friend. Clay, convinced he could never be open about his sexuality, much less form a real life-partnership with a man, eventually took up on Sherry’s offer and married her. As his mother told him, he “could do a lot worse”.
Clay and Sherry had two sons. Sherry befriended Matthew’s wife so that Clay and Matthew could come together again, now as friends. Matthew had two daughters and one son, Luke. The two families visited often. Luke, in particular, was with Clay more often than with his own father, and Clay felt closer to Luke than to his own sons. As Luke grew up, Clay got the impression that the boy might be gay. Determined to spare Luke the pain and denial he had to endure, Clay did his best to contradict the homophobic doctrines Luke’s grandfather has fed him and encouraged him, if not in so much words, to remain true to himself.
Meanwhile, Matthew got into an ugly downward spiral of alcoholism, domestic violence and self-neglect. Eventually, Matthew’s wife left with the daughters, leaving Luke behind, who now spent even more time at Clay’s. Although Clay could barely stand Matthew anymore, he continued to welcome him, too, for old times’ sake. But one day Luke turned up with a blackened eye. Matthew had been abused himself as a teenager, and recognizing the signs, Clay confronted Matthew to keep Luke safe.
It was around this time that Clay realized his feelings for Luke weren’t fatherly any longer. However, since Clay was married and Luke was still a minor, Clay never thought about acting on his feelings, but got even more determined in helping Luke to lead a self-determined, happy life as a gay man.
Although Clay could never love Sherry passionately, he took every effort to do right by her and be her a good husband. Even though Sherry knew from the get-go that Clay was gay, she loved him deeply – how deeply, Clay learned only shortly before Sherry died from breast cancer.
Sherry made Clay promise to find a new relationship, and she practically pushed Clay towards Luke. She took her matchmaking even further, asking Luke to take care of Clay.
In the months following Sherry’s death, grief and a feeling of guilt rendered Clay barely functional. It took an almost catastrophic event to pull Clay out of his fog of sorrow. Matthew had beaten Luke [nearly] to death and then shot himself. On his deathbed, Matthew confessed that he had loved Clay back, all those years ago, but had been to scared to act on it. Matthew reproached Clay for not fighting for them. Although Clay rejected Matthew’s accusations at first, he now realized he had been just as cowardly. It was another revelation for Clay which made him determined to admit to being gay, at least to his nearest and dearest.
After Luke had healed, Clay told him everything. He still didn’t want to act on his feelings, since Luke, although nineteen now, was so much younger than him, and he didn’t want to take advantage of him. Yet, Luke made it very clear to him that the feelings were mutual, in every aspect. For the first time in his life, love wasn’t an one-sided thing for Clay anymore.
The writing was mostly narration, with many aspects simply told rather than shown. However, given the predicament – a man writing down the story of his life over the course of a full-moon night – and the short format, I really couldn’t say how this could have been done otherwise.
Since we’re only privy to Clay’s thoughts, the view on the other characters is naturally one-sided. Especially Sherry, unselfishly loving wife, was larger than life, almost a saint. Nobody is that good – but, seen through Clay’s eyes, she would of course appear thusly. The same is true for Luke, who for Clay can’t do any wrong.
The best worked-out character was Matthew, since Clay’s view of him was the least emotional. Other supportive cast, like Clay’s sons, Clay’s mother, Matthew’s wife and daughters, mostly only get a mention in passing, which again might be due to the short format. And there were a number of convenient plot elements, like the devoted wife passing away just in time when Luke reached adulthood, or the bad-dream-turned-to-making-love. I took note, but they didn’t bother me as much as it was the case in other books, mostly because they made sense in the context here.
Clay was a lucky man, no doubt about it; if not for Sherry, he could have easily ended up like Matthew. And he got even more lucky in finding Luke. For a long time, Clay let things happen to him without really making his own decisions, which, again thanks to Sherry, at least left him content, if not happy. Only when he manned up and came out as being gay, he could find true happiness.
As I understand it, this is the message behind the story. It’s not so subtle, the matter taken up several times during dialogue, but I didn’t feel beaten upon the head with it either.
Most of all, this is a honest book. The titular rhetorical question, “How can love be wrong?” is answered here by a relationship which “breaks almost every role there is” and still feels right, for both Clay and Luke. I got the impression that the core of this story was striking up a blow for loving relationships that don’t fit into any pigeon-holes, and even though the case was a little overstated at times, the message came across as a matter close to the author’s heart.
All in all, this was a beautiful, deeply moving and comforting story which I can recommend if you’re in the mood for something sweet, sad and honest with unexpected depth.
Thank you Feliz for your amazing review. You touch my heart!
And for those interested in buying the story, you can find it by clicking here! It is only $3.99, a deal at twice the price!