REVIEW: What Everyone Deserves by Dan Ackerman
Dear Dan Ackerman,
I have never read your work before, but I was intrigued when I read my friend Ami’s review. I have to say that I have not read such an unusual gay romance/gay fiction book in a while.
Ami mentioned in her review that the book felt like gay fiction to her and I have to agree, even though it is filled with paranormal creatures. I cannot quite explain why it felt like gay fiction – maybe because the people and creatures who filled the pages felt so real despite being demons, vampires and fairies? Junius aka June being a fertility demon and James being a vampire is not just an allegory – Junius’ job as fertility demon is to care for mothers and children as well as future mothers, and he does it with all the kindness and tenderness of which he is capable. When he meets James, a newly turned vampire (seven years ago) and James’ maker, the old world vampire Anastasia, June is attracted to James, but first and foremost he wants to teach James how to survive as a vampire without having to kill people. James really really does not like killing people, but Anastasia (Annie) feels that this is the only way vampire can survive.
The readers observe June and James Kelly (because he prefers to be called James Kelly, not just James) meeting over a period of almost two years – the book starts In December 1952 and ends some time in 1954, and the time between meetings is usually a couple of months, give or take. At first June teaches James Kelly how and when to get blood from willing recipients, how to stop on time, and why it is necessary to take care of those who have given you blood. Then they start meeting for other reasons. June is the kindest, sweetest soul and I really liked him. He wants somebody to take care of – he has a cat named Gordon, but he wants a partner and he hasn’t had one since his ex, a demon of sex, broke up with him. The two of them are on completely friendly terms, though.
James is clearly appreciating what June is doing for him and enjoying his friendship more and more, – he just seems sure that he does not want whatever June wants from him (and trust me, think of it June may, but he is not directly asking for anything and does his very best to be a good friend for James).
Over the course of couple of years or so James finally acknowledges to himself that he is in love with Junius. I was convinced – opinions may differ of course, but I thought it was clear that James Kelly was attracted but was scared to admit it. I really liked how this part was written – with restraint, not over the top. Maybe this is another reason why the book felt more like paranormal gay fiction with romantic elements rather than just straight romance – it did not feel melodramatic. Believe me, I have nothing against melodrama – but somehow, despite the paranormal setup, I thought author achieved a level of realism or at least believability that I do not often see in contemporary m/m romances.
James’ unhappiness with the partnership with his maker, Anastasia, was the second underlying source of conflict in the story and it made sense to me – clashing over whether to kill humans seems like the most obvious reason vampires would clash. However, even that storyline did not feel over the top to me and I think this was a good thing.
The story takes place in New York in the early 1950s, and while I am not sure how well the settings were depicted, what I’ve learned of New York while living here made me think that yes, settings were very well researched. Also, while I am not sure if the dialogue was exactly 1950s, I thought the attempt at least was made.