March 16th, 2012

andrew potter

Best Gay Contemporary Romance (3° place): These Haunted Heights by Ally Blue

I feel somehow near to the main character of this novel, Ron, a young photojournalist from New York City, me, like him, when I’m around travelling have always my camera with me, because you never know when the best shot of your life is awaiting you.

Ron is young, pretty and without troubles in his life; when Terrence, his boyfriend for the last few months dumps him right at the beginning of a vacation leave, Ron takes it from the right perspective: now he has time to explore the landscape around his aunt’s vacation home without being bothered by obligations. He is not at all angry with Terrence, on the contrary, they part ways in an amicable way. As soon as Terrence is out of the picture, Ron plans to turn the vacation into a photojournalism spread and starts to explore on foot the area, and he meets Drew, his handsome, and gay, neighbour.

Drew is not exactly in the closet, it’s only that, having lost his partner 20 years ago, and being more or less an hermit after that, very few people remember the young man who came back from England with a male lover in tow. Now he is scared to love again, above all since he feels guilty for the suicide of William. And to complicate things, William’s ghost apparently is haunting the house where Ron is living, so that it’s even more difficult to Drew to pass over the fact that, while William is dead, Drew is alive, and very much interested in young and pretty Ron.

I was expecting for this novel to be more on the paranormal/horror side, and instead it’s very much focused on the romance between Drew and Ron and the paranormal element that is the ghost is only an additional feature, but not really part of the pathos, so that, when that part will be more or less resolved, it will not really influence what is the evolution of the relationship between Drew and Ron. Sure this is not a “pretty” romance, not like some other books by Ally Blue, it’s actually more on her original production, novel with a medium-high level of angst, but that still maintain their nature of being romances.

I liked the setting, a sleepy coastal small town; it’s not, like in some other gay romances, an utopian place where homophobic attitude is banned, but it’s not even some hell hole where people is scared to go out at night. It’s probably the reality of a lot of places, and for that reason it felt good.

Amazon: These Haunted Heights
Amazon Kindle: These Haunted Heights
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1608201848
ISBN-13: 978-1608201846

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
andrew potter

The Good Shepherd by Jardonn Smith

This day I really didn’t need to cry more, but it was time for me to read this Christmas novella by Jardonn Smith and so I did, and of course I cried. The Good Shepherd is a bittersweet novella, it’s a Christmas novella only since the two heroes met during the Christmas season of 1944, but they did so in a prisoner camp in German territory under Nazi occupation; during that 1944 they were lucky and with the help of a German shepherd they managed to escape and go back to United States to start a life together. Good you will say, that is a story with an angst beginning but with an happily ever after. Wrong. The author didn’t deceive the reader, he starts the story in 1951 and Harold, Jack’s lover, dies in Korea; from this event, Jack walks through the memory lane and tells us the story of their brief but deep love. Jack had only 6 years with Harold, but those six years will last all his life, a life that will be 10 times longer, 60 years.

Sure, this is a bittersweet story, but it’s also a love story. Jack loved Harold, and he understood that harnesses his lover in a country life would have meant killing him. But Harold died anyway, so what is the meaning of Jack’s generosity? That he was not the one who killed him. Harold was not happy in their farm, he wanted to fly, to fly away; he loved Jack and I’m sure he was thinking that he was always coming back to him, but that is the war, and that was the fate of many soldiers who didn’t believe they would die in war. And maybe Harold thought he was different, he had already managed to escape once, why not two? Harold was for sure a dreamer, and maybe he was also young. I don’t blame Jack for letting him go, probably if that was not the case, Harold would have gone in any case, and their love would have been destroyed. In this way, even if Jack has no more Harold, he has at least the memory of their perfect love.

Amazon Kindle: The Good Sheperd (MLR Press Story A Day For the Holidays 2011)
Publisher: MLR Press,LLC (December 18, 2011)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
andrew potter

Gay Dating 101, Finding Men, Sex and Love in a Complicated World by Jonathan Cohen

There are various reasons why the two men on the cover are very right for this “how to do” book: first of all they are Tony Gibble and Clint Shields, i.e. a real life gay couple you can see also in some Dylan Rosser’s photo shoots, second they are raising Tony’s son in a same-sex marriage environment, and third they are ordinary guys. True, if you see them naked you notice that they are well-build and really handsome, but in a room full of guys they would on the average crowd. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a criticism, on the contrary, I appreciated that since I had the feeling Jonathan Cohen is very much like Tony and Clint, and moreover, I think the author was also a shy guy and what he is writing in this manual is probably what he experienced first-hand.

If I have to be 100% true, he didn’t catch me at first; he was pretty generic, and I felt like what he was saying was really not “real” enough, not “lived” enough. But then Jonathan Cohen starts to dive into details, all the main milestones for a gay boy and man, from coming out to meeting partners to having sex. The author maybe is shy in life but he is not shy in giving advices, and while the manual is not an health-care essay (and maybe when talking about diseases and safe sex he is a little high level), he touches many important issues.

Another point I think I understood of the author is that he is a romantic at heart, but that heart was probably broken once or twice. Jonathan Cohen has hope into long-term relationships and if he is not into one he is probably hoping for. And so some of his advices sounded sometime like those of a worried parent who wants to be sure his children will be able to find that happiness he is sure it’s waiting for them.

Gay Dating 101 is maybe high-level on some point but that could be a vantage: it’s not boring and for this world of fast-and-furious it can be useful to have something easier to drive you through the jungle of dating.

Amazon Kindle: Gay Dating 101: Finding Men, Sex and Love in A Complicated World
Publisher: Jonathan Cohen; 1 edition (January 21, 2012)

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle