As You Are (Aunt Lynn’s Review)

asyouareTitle: As You Are
Author: Ethan Day
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary M/M, romantic comedy
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Length: Novel
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

THE BLURB

Operation Danny…that’s all bartender and recent college graduate, Julian Hallowell has had on his mind the past year. Julian may have no idea what he wants to do with his life, but he definitely knows he‘s in love with the boy next door: the next door down the hall to be exact, housing his roommate and used textbook store owner Danny Wallace.

While Julian has done his level best to make Danny fall for him, all his hard work has been in vain. Danny doesn’t seem to view Julian as anything other than a roommate and friend. So when new guy in town Andy Baker asks him out on a date, Julian can’t think of a good reason to say no.

Instead, he institutes a Reverse Operation Danny plan, which he’s positive will purge all thoughts of love and lust for his roomie out of his head. He’s ready to move on and start looking for his next Mr. Right, and Andy just might fit the bill. But has he given up too soon?

THE REVIEW

As You Are is the third published novel by Ethan Day, who has quickly secured a place in my reading heart as one of my favorite authors. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have put Ethan up on some kind of author pedestal because of the yumminess that is Dreaming of You (reviewed here), one of my favorite books of this past year. I was actually a little scared to read this one; I mean, how could he top that book in my mind, and was it a fluke? What would happen if AYA turned out to be a big ol’ bomb and that pedestal would crumble, taking Ethan with it? I didn’t know if I could handle it. I was terrified that my fears were founded when I started it — it kinda threw me off guard with its bold cheekiness — but it grew on me as I continued through, and by the end, I loved it. I should have just trusted that all would be well. Light, hilarious and wonderful with fully-fleshed characters and a quick pace, I laughed — a lot — I cried, I got angry for Julian.

Ethan has a way with writing normal, flawed and quirky characters — characters that I inevitably fall in love with — and AYA is no exception. Narrated first-person by uber-sassy Julian, he had me in the second paragraph by mentioning his love of Miracle Whip. 🙂 When we first meet Julian, he is telling us a little about himself and his seamlessly never-ending search for true love and The One. He had hoped that Danny, his roommate of a little over a year, would be The One, but after months of fruitlessly trying to get Danny’s attention, Julian has changed direction and is now trying hard to be as bitchy to him as possible in an effort to flush Danny out of his system. To help with this, he agrees to a date with Andy, a man who he met at the club where Julian tends bar.  Perhaps Andy is The One? Things get interesting when it appears Danny may have some interest after all and everything comes to a head before the week is out.

Once again I find a character that I want to be friends with, who seems very real to me, and that is Julian. Poor Julian; all he wants is to fall in love and find The One, but it’s a challenge for him, especially since he set his sights on “walking hard-on “ Danny. There are so many aspects of Julian’s personality that I found endearing: how feisty and bitchy he is, how he adores his mother, how his mouth gets away from him sometimes as he speaks before thinking (or speaks what he’s thinking), how he has a thing for smells (more on that later), how he can never find his keys. A chain smoker banished to the “smokers’ sill” in their apartment, smoking is as much of his character as his bitchiness and huge heart.

Like the story itself, Danny grew on me and by the end, I liked him very much. I started out having some problems with his character and how he treated Julian, but then I came to understand that part of that is in response to Julian himself and the whole “Reverse Operation Danny” thing. The story is told in current day and in flashbacks to scenes of note over the last year as the tale progressed, and as we got to see pre-ROD interaction, I could see how kind and sweet he was. I wanted to throttle him at several times, but overall, I hoped he and Julian would work out and I found myself rooting for them.  In saying all of this, though, my single niggle with the book is that I didn’t get to know him as well as I would have liked, and definitely not was well as Julian.

Secondary cast include Gabby, Julian’s best friend who knows him better than anyone, who happily calls him on all of his bullshit, and who Julian meets for lunch every week day. Gabby, who is also a heavy smoker and quite sassy, comes from a “long line of Irish Catholic alcoholics” so she can easily drink three martinis at lunch each day and go back to work. Other characters include Delilah, Julian’s divorced, PFLAG-active mother who visits often and who has kind of adopted Danny as a second son. I think she wants them together as much as Julian does. Realtor Andy as Julian’s possible love interest and Brad, Gabby’s clueless boyfriend, round out the cast.

I found AYA to be very sensual; sensual, as in literally about the physical senses. There is a lot of emphasis on tastes, sounds, touches and especially smells. Soap, sweat, musk, deodorant, cologne, books (a major aphrodisiac for Julian “I don’t know why, but I always get extremely aroused in bookstores and libraries. I love the smell of books.”), newly-detailed car, “scent and sights of all the sweaty beefcake” all make for a sensual feast that Julian has difficulty navigating around, especially since most them make him incredibly horny.

There are so many laugh-out-loud moments that my partner stopped asking me what was so funny and just shook her head as I read.  And snickered.  And guffawed.   Standouts include a touch football game early in the book and a dinner party where all of the characters are together in one room.

OVERALL

All-in-all a wonderful, hilarious story with fabulous characters that I highly recommend to fans of the author, to lovers of romantic comedies, and to anyone looking for a pick-me-up read.  Well done.

15 comments

    • Don’t be so jealous yet, Ethan; I woke to heavy fog, and though not rainy, it is gloomy. Now, by 11 or noon it will most likely all go away and leave us with a bea-U-tiful day in the high 60s, but right now? Crappy.

  • Ethan
    Since Lynn is under your covers you must autograph her print copy of Dreaming of You! If you’re ever in Cali she has a special treat for you but i’m not allowed to say what it is. Mum’s the word.

  • Aunt Lynn

    Thought I’d let you know that Dreaming of You is now available in print. Since I assume sales of the e-book are what determine whether or not something makes it to print, I’ll say thanks again for the wonderful review you posted of Dreaming.

    I noticed there was even a little snippet from your review on the first page! Now I’ll forever have you under my covers. ; )

    Ethan

    • Thought I’d let you know that Dreaming of You is now available in print.

      Fabu! I’m off to buy my very own copy to add to my keeper shelf!
       

      I noticed there was even a little snippet from your review on the first page! Now I’ll forever have you under my covers. ; )

      Cool beans. And you’re a big tease; you want nothing that I have. 😉 Oh, well, maybe… Everyone’s gotta eat, yeah? Next time you’re in the Bay Area, I’d gladly make you a little sumthin’ sumthin’ in the kitchen. And maybe you’ll put your JH on the book next to my snippet.

  • I was just over at Leslie’s review for AYA and have to say how much I enjoyed the variety of opinions, what works and what doesn’t, for each of you.
    I have to say how much I enjoyed your review; I loved the mention you made of the ‘sensual’ nature of the story something I had noticed but subconsciously and it certainly adds to why I enjoy Ethan’s writing so much.

    I’ve also discovered a new place to come visit and check out reviews ~ although that’s a little like giving a sugar addict all the halloween candy ~ because I find the most awesome authors and books… which add greatly to my TBR and reading enjoyment.

    And as for the laughing-out-loud and your partner’s reactions…. Dang, that is exactly the reaction that I get from my family. They don’t get it, but they live with it. *grin*

    • Hi Kathy and welcome! Yes, we’re a fun bunch of readers — and some writers, too — who hang out here talking m/m books and other stuff. Wave has done an excellent job making this a great place to come and get daily fixes of reviews and lively conversation. And as far as your addiction analogy, at least the books won’t rot your teeth and make you fat! 😉
       
      Thank you for your kind words. As for the sensual nature of the book, I loved the touch football scene and how worked up Julian was getting just from the scents and sounds of all those men around him!
       
      My partner reads lesbian fiction, but her books are never as funny as mine, and if they are, well, it wasn’t intentional! 😉

  • Don’t you worry about that, Ethan. I am an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kinda girl, so I’m asleep long before she is. 🙂

  • Hey Lynn! I forgot to mention this before — please apologize to your partner on my behalf. Hopefully it wasn’t too late when you were reading the book.

    E

  • Thanks for stopping by, Ethan. Another wonderful offering. Keep them coming, please! And yes, they absolutely bring laughter into my life, and based on some other reviews I’ve since read, laughter into the lives of many others as well.
     
    I, too, love how us readers are all different in how we take and walk away from the same book. I’d love to hear from others who have read AYA and get their opinions.

  • Thanks again for the wonderful reviews. I was able to read them before I left for work today, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to reply to both, so I decided I’d wait until I got home.

    Thanks Lynn for taking the time to read the book and to then formulate all your wonderful insights. I’m happy you weren’t disappointed, but I must say — please don’t stress yourself out so darn much. With any luck, my books are as Wave mentioned, supposed to alleviate stress, not add to it. More laughter, less fretting! ; )

    One of the truly great things about books is that everyone can take them in a different way. I think it’s truly amazing that for Lynn the dinner party scene was a stand out, yet for Leslie it didn’t quite work. That’s just so completely interesting to me the way two people can read the exact same thing and take different things away from it. How friggin’ cool is that? Obviously, I’d prefer it if everyone loved my books — well, not to be overly punny — but, As They Are. : ) Yet I’m also enough of a realist to understand that isn’t always going to be the case.

    All I can do is cross my fingers and hope for the best. I’ll be sure to hop over to Leslie’s review and leave her with some of my own thoughts as well.

    Thanks again to Wave and both of the lovely ladies for taking their time to review As You Are.

    Ethan

  • Lynn
    I posted this on the other review so I thought I would do so here as well.
    ***
    Having read both reviews I can see where your differences in rating are because of your points of view.

    **

    Lynn, I think you’re looking at As you Are the way I would, strictly as a reader, though with no less of a critical eye than Leslie.

    **
    Leslie I think you reviewed the book from an “editorial” background which gives the author a few more points to ponder, and perhaps work on for his next book if he feels so inclined.

    **

    On reading both reviews it seems that each of you hit on the points in the story that struck you as being either very funny, or were too in your face and therefore grated a little.

    **
    Ethan has his own style and the reason I love his books is that he writes the stories he wants to tell. I think he’s very talented but he definitely marches to a different drummer, which could be good or bad depending on perspective.

    ***
    You guys did a great job on this duelling review and I hope Ethan is pleased.

    • Thanks Wave. I’m glad that it came through that I likes the book because I really did. Ethan, does, indeed, write in a unique manner, and so much of it is funny! And you are probably right about my and Leslie’s points of view and how we read it.

  • Lynn
    I just love Ethan’s books and your review makes me want to read this one so that I can laugh away my troubles. His style is definitely unique and he can pillory gays because he is himself gay.

    **

    Books that appeal to all the sensory nerve endings are a particular weakness of mine – like reading an M/M book where the protag is a chef.:)

    **

    Now I have to see what Leslie has to say about As You Are.

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