Review: Summer Lover by B.G. Thomas
Rating: 4.5 stars
B.G. Thomas has a definitive style of writing. His characters are often wounded, angry, and rarely come at life from a place of acceptance for who they are. That lack of acceptance is often internal, plaguing the individuals and preventing them from not only finding love, but from truly loving themselves.
Scott Aberdeen knew from a very early age that he was smarter than his parents. He also learned that when he was finally able to understand his own sexuality that the God he had been spoon-fed since birth was not real and not on his side. Bigoted and cruel parents who refused to see their son, but rather only an “abomination,” solidified for Scott that he was alone with no one to rely on but himself.
Now, as an adult, Scott is bitter and angry. He mocks his friend Wyatt and what he calls his “witchy woo woo” camp where gay men gather each summer to discover their queerness and celebrate their history. But, the camp is much more than that as Scott will soon come to discover. Along with Wyatt, two others make up the “Fab Four” who gather once a month at one another’s home. Asher, the gorgeous movie star wanabee is both a bit of a skeptic and also very intuitive. And then there is Sloan. Sloan is the man who Scott has had a ten-year-long crush on, believing himself in love with the kind hearted man who is currently involved with a man who has just come out of the closet after years of marriage.
Summer Lover is best looked at in two parts: pre-Sloan and post-Sloan. For you see, Scott cannot move forward in his life without releasing his hold on Sloan—he is trapped in an endless cycle of unrequited love and so seeks to find it in every other man he meets. Scott has a tendency to fall in love without really knowing what love is, for one cannot love another person without first loving himself. After two disastrous online hook ups that leave Scott more convinced that the “God” of the common masses is nothing more than a heartless figment of his parent’s bigoted minds, Scott is desperate to fall in love. He doubts his own appeal so much that he hides it behind expensive trappings, from designer hair care products to an expensive car, all of which he can barely afford.
When Scott finally hits rock bottom and is forced to take a vacation from his job due to his inattentiveness to detail, he finds himself agreeing to go to Wyatt’s camp with yet another man he is so sure will be the one who will finally love him. How Scott eventually ends up at the Heartland Men’s Festival with Wyatt and begins a journey that will lead him to an amazing place of self-love is the post-Sloan section of the book, and this is where the action really takes off. Now Scott must either embrace hard truths about himself and by doing so, finally learn to love himself, or remain locked in a cycle of self-loathing, empty relationships and bitterness.
Summer Lover was more than just a nice story that continued where the first in this series left off. Yes, it was nice to revisit these characters who had initially been introduced in Spring Affair, but it was really Scott who this book focused on and his journey was nothing short of life-changing. The eclectic and amazing secondary cast of men we meet at the Camp, along with the tender and stunning Cedar Carrington, really made this novel shine in ways that were totally unexpected. To be honest, I was worried at the onset of this novel. Scott was so whiny, so negative. He continually ran a subconscious dialogue about religion and how it had ruined his life. Every interaction he had seemed to revolve around the existence or non-existence of a high power. At one point, I began to despair that the novel would never move beyond this theme. Then author B.G. Thomas worked his magic and made this story so much more than just a diatribe against organized religions. He made it about the men who struggle each day with the pain and joys of being gay. He revealed the hurts and loves of men who are so often marginalized by a rigid society that uses a twisted form of a higher power to condemn those who simply want to live their lives in peace.
Over and over in this “post- Sloan” portion of the novel, Scott is confronted by his own self-worth, his internal and external beauty. Cedar, a wounded man himself, who has made the road his home because of a tragedy he cannot get beyond, is the key to unlocking Scott’s self-imposed prison. These two men meet and their lives explode as their growing love becomes the catalyst to healing.
Summer Lover is a novel that not only allows for something greater than ourselves, but encourages us to see the potential that exits within each of us. The story leads us by the hand and reminds all that we are perfectly made and no matter whom we love, the simple act of loving is a miracle in itself and should be treated as such. Despite a slow start, this novel is a force to be reckoned with and a journey that each of us must one day make. I highly recommend Summer Lover to you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.