Dear Ms. Welsh.
I can’t figure out my feelings towards this book. I enjoyed it. A lot. The sex was hot. The heroes are great. It was just what I needed today when I was feeling overwhelmed with work (new semester starting up), because it was a very undemanding book. But there’s no conflict. None. At all. It’s a story of two guys meeting, falling in love, having sex, falling in love some more, and…being happy. So while it was a fun, enjoyable read, it was lacking a component that, in my opinion, makes a romance novel a romance novel, so I’m not sure I can recommend it.
Mal (short for Malcolm) Short is 18 and has just graduated high school. He spent all of high school being badly bullied for being perceived as gay. He’s never had a date, never been kissed, never really figured out WHO he’s actually attracted to. His parents completely ignore him and he’s lonely. A new family moves in across the street and he meets Wes (short for Wesley). Wes is completely comfortable with who he is, completely open about being gay. The first time Mal sees him, Wes stands down the bullies Mal has been dealing with for four years.
Wes’s passion is restoring cars. He’s 24 and has a great business flipping cars like people flip houses. But he moved back in with his very accepting, loving parents because he couldn’t handle the homophobic neighborhood his old apartment was in. Wes just adopts Mal as a friend, taking him to help with his latest car and generally being the friend Mal has never had.
Until Mal figures out he actually IS gay. Whereupon he completely accepts it and starts having sex with Wes. They have a lot of sex, say they love each other, have a lot more sex, and…that’s it, really. Oh, Mal deals with his bullies, doesn’t deal with his parents, deals with being flirted with by girls. But there really is NO conflict, either external or internal. There’s nothing at ALL to stop these guys from being together. The only potential conflict is Mal figuring out he’s gay and that’s almost completely ignored. He asks himself “am I or aren’t I” a few times, but figure out he is and just runs with it, no angst involved.
But, like I said, it’s…sweet. And you have a gift for writing sex. Really hot sex. But the lack of conflict left me wondering why I was bothering to read…except for the hot sex, of course.
Also, Wes seems just too utterly perfect. The story is told in first person from Mal’s point of view. But Wes seems to fall in love immediately, provide Mal with everything he never knew he needed, including a loving family, do everything right, and also manage to be just a bit vulnerable about whether Mal really loves him. Which is great, but less perfection maybe would have given the book some conflict.
Finally, Mal’s parents change — without explanation — from almost criminally negligent class-conscious assholes to fundamentalist homophobic assholes halfway through the book. Not that you see any of this — it’s just Mal’s internal reporting. But it seemed a bit off and more like bad editing than anything planned out.
But there’s one scene (besides the hot sex — have I mentioned that?) that I loved. Wes asks Mal what his passion is:
I didn’t laugh with him, because I was trying to think of something I did that made me forget the world around me and that I was in it. I sighed, a little pained to realize that most everything I’d done in the past four years had been to escape reality. Reading took me away. Video games. The Internet. But I just used them to waste the hours between those I spent sleeping.
"Jesus," I mumbled, tucking my arms around my chest and squeezing my eyes shut. I’d wasted so much time, so much of my life, trying to escape being me because those assholes had made me hate myself before I’d even figured out who I really was.
I loved how insightful that was. Which is a symptom of your potential, in my opinion. Mal was a great character and Wes was perfect and perfectly adorable. The writing was solid. The sex was hot. Now try for some conflict and you’ll be an amazing writer.
This book can be purchased at Loose Id.