July 29th, 2009

andrew potter

It Had to Be You by Timothy James Beck

Daniel is a thirty years old guy like many in New York. He flew from a small town in Wiscounsin hoping to become an actor at Broadway; during high school he was the classical misfit, not actually out as gay but nevertheless the target of those guys who considered themself normal. As often in those cases, losing himself in daydreams was the only way to survive and playing a role on stage was another way to escape reality. In a small town, Daniel's ability to perform was something special, but in New York City he was only one other daydreamer; Daniel left his small town since he didn't fit there, but it's not better in New York City. Young and alone, Daniel was starting towards the path of selling himself, more for being noticed (and having enough to eat) than really for money. Who saved Daniel from that sad destiny, was his makeshift family, full of wonderful characters like Bette Midler, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, all in drags. In his small town, when Daniel thought to himself as gay, he never once imagined himself in drag, but then he realized that it was another way to play a role, on stage, but also in life. On stage Daniel wore glitters and satin, out of the stage he had still a mask. His own was 2Di4, a female impersonator of Lady Diana; and it worked for many years till the day the real Lady D died in a car accident. Daniel was not only playing a role, 2Di4 was also his life, and losing his source of inspiration was like losing again himself.

At thirty Daniel is again at the starting point, the last 12 years lost forever. More or less at the same time, he also finds out that his lover Jeremy is cheating on him with a common friend, Robert. So Daniel takes a whole turn on his life: he moves to Hell's Kitchen in a small apartment with a little garden and he spends the summer planting seeds and trees in that garden, another way to delay. At the end of the summer, the garden is a little eden, and Daniel has not yet decided what to do with his life. His friends, mostly drag queens, want for him to perform again, but he has not that in him. He meets Sheila, a young girl coincidentally from his same small town, who is temporarly living with Blaine, another fellow townfolk. Blaine is actually Mr 5.33, the same man Daniel is spying from his garden every day coming home and doing an impromptu and unwilling little striptease for the neighbor. At first Daniel befriends Sheila for the chance to meet Blaine, but then he finds out that he really likes the girl; Sheila's relationship with Blaine is strange, but from the beginning it's clear that it's not love, at least no more. Sheila also convinces Blaine to hire Daniel as Personal Assistant; Daniel has no real skill for the work, but he learns looking at DVD like Working Girl and From 9 to 5. The job allows him to get nearer to Blaine, and to discover some of the man's secrets.

Meanwhile, Daniel's ex, Jeremy, is regretting is choice to leave and wants to come back home to Daniel, and also Jeremy's new lover, Robert, is making a move on Daniel... from not having no one and being dumped, Daniel has now three possible lovers in line. Quite an ego burst. And the real good thing is that now all of the are interesting in Daniel, the real one, and not the face 2Di4 he was on stage. What Daniel didn't do 12 years ago, and what he delayed misguising as a female, he is doing now: he is coming out, from the closet, from the small town, from the dresses he used to hide. He is no more living on the shadow of someone else, replaying on stage her mistakes, Daniel is now doing them all by himself.

Even if there is a nice and tender love story between Daniel and Blaine, the story is mainly focused on Daniel. Blaine is all in all a good character and a nice man. He made some big mistakes in his life, but now he is trying to straighten (no pun inteded) them. Maybe at the very beginning, he is not so straightforward (again, no pun inteded) with Daniel, but it's really a question of few days. After that, he becomes the perfect possible boyfriend, comprehensive and caring, sweet and tender. But still, his character remains quite in second line in comparison to Daniel.

The love story between them is sweet, tender and very normal. A classical office romance, with a little of teasing and nice development. There is not detailed sex, when they do it (and they do it), the author chose the "and afterward..." tactic, means that we leave the characters just before the main course, to rejoin them at the afterward. No bad, the story is funny and light enough to fullfill the gap.

Amazon: It Had to Be You

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
andrew potter

Convincing Arthur by Ava March

If Leopold was a woman, it would have been the classical heroine who no romance author chooses as main character. Usually a widow, or a fallen woman, in the Regency romance they are friends, mistress (usually abandoned at the beginning of the story), housekeeper. Some daring romance authors made them the main heroine, but seldom, and usually with no much success. And so that Ava March decided to write the story of a corresponding male version it's quite original, and daring as well. In the few M/M historical romance you can find around, the men are strong and dominant figures, full of sense of honor, or innocent young boys, the male version of the damsel in distress. If the man is a rake, it's probably due to a poor childhood, to a lack of love that made him aloof.

Leopold instead is "weak" to the pleasure of flesh since he is basically easy to fall into temptation. At 19 years old, when he was starting to realize that he preferred men, he fell in love with Arthur, the nephew of his father's solicitor. While Leopold was a noble man, the fourth son of a Viscount, Arthur, even if middle class and wealthy, was on a different level. To Leopold that didn't matter, but he was really young, and as I said, not so strong, neither then. He let pass too much time to make clear his feelings with Arthur, and the man chose another. Falling in despair, Leopold spent the following ten years drinking stupor his pain, and sharing his favors with everyone was willing. Not a good way to prove to Arthur that he did the wrong choice.

Where Leopold could care less of the society, his father's title and money protecting him, Arthur has to be discreet; his position depends from his job, and his job from his reputation. A relationship with a discreet man, albeit cold, it's better than an hot affair with a young man apparently unable to be low profile. But even if sure, the relationship is also unsatisfying, and when it ends, for natural death, Arthur is tempted to accept an invite for a brief stay at Leopold's country home. Leopold's intentions are clear, and Arthur is willing to surrender, only for few days.

While Arthur is the hero you are expecting from a man on man Regency romance, as I said, it's Leopold who wins my sympathy. Leopold is not a strong man, without Arthur's love he is no one, not "man" enough to resolve his self-confidence issues by himself. Basically Leopold is a spoiled child, as fourth male child, his father doesn't expect to much from him, but loving him, he gave everything to his child. Not having the bear his father's expectation, Leopold is free to live his life as he wants, but on the other hand, he has no real purpose. I don't feel as Leopold charges of something his father, he is a beloved child, and he expects to be loved. When Arthur doesn't do that by himself, Leopold his willing to help him to take the right decision, to let him taste what he is missing. From the unconditionally love of his father, Leopold wants to pass to the unconditionally love of Arthur: it's only natural, why someone shouldn't love him? 

Said like that, it could seem that Leopold isn't a nice character, and it's absolutely wrong. Ava March describes him in a way that the reader is all for Leopold, and when Arthur, with right, states his perplexity, the reader only thinks that he is not right with Leopold, that he should be more flexible and understanding. Leopold is an easy man to love (no pun intended).


Amazon Kindle: Convincing Arthur

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by April Martinez