Another Enchanted April

Title & Link: Another Enchanted April
Author: Eric Arvin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella (188 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

A guest review by Buda

Summary Review: This lovely novella is more of a wonderful addition to the best of gay literature than it is a traditional romance. Readers who love character growth will get it in spades here.

The Blurb:

Can the idyllic simplicity of a garden change a life forever? It’s a question three men on a vacation to the small seaside town of Beechwood will find the answer to when they stay at a B&B with an expansive and breathtakingly beautiful garden. A garden with an air of the supernatural. Jerry’s there for love, Doug’s there for sex, and Tony? Well, Tony is practically dragged along against his will. A comedy of errors ensues as the three men cling stubbornly to their self-destructive ways; can a cook named Anna Magnani, a roller-skating drag queen, and the magic of the garden tame the tempest and prevent love’s labors from being lost?

The Review:

(Full disclosure: My first, almost-finished review disappeared into the ether of WordPress Hell, so if this one doesn’t flow as well as usual, please forgive me. I can be only eloquent once!)

Tony, Doug and Jerry have been close friends since college. Now 29, and five years removed from the accident that changed his world forever, Tony is emotionally unsettled but physically trapped–his income derives from his disability pay. Because of the precarious equilibrium that requires the use of a cane, he doesn’t get out much. That is, until Doug literally carries him, fireman-style, out of his apartment and into a grand adventure.

Doug is a sex machine. His entire life–and his workout routine–revolves around the hunt for the next warm male body to rub up against. He is a muscle boy constantly in search of his next conquest, all the while trying not to think too much or look too deeply at himself.

Jerry is the invisible one. He is Doug’s shadow and total opposite. Where Doug is muscle and brawn, Jerry is thin enough to have been mistaken for anorexic. He is a reader; Doug is the action hero (horizontally speaking, of course). Doug and Jerry hooked up several times in college and Jerry still hasn’t gotten over his infatuation with the glorious muscle boy.

The three men are painted so vividly, so independently, that they quickly seem like old friends. As I (re)write this, the skies above my home are the color of steel, sucking the joy from the day with the unholy mix of stinging sleet and swollen snowflakes. Here is a first-page description of Tony:

Tony longed for something poetic, something beautiful. It was an everyday longing, but there seemed to be no way out of the life he had been given. He wanted out of the gray but felt weighed down. “How am I supposed to start my day,” he wondered aloud, “when even the sky looks lazy?”

The three arrive at the bed and breakfast, called the Manor House, after dark, having endured a long, slow drive through the rain. The next morning, Jerry awakens and is overcome by the beauty of the multi-level gardens in the back of the house. The lush descriptions made me want to experience the place.

Jerry was only a few feet onto the stone path, which was interspersed with tufts of green grass, when he started feeling light-headed. Everything around him seemed too much and too beautiful. He was vanished by it all. Quite invisible. He had not gone five feet from the steps, yet he was lost. Lost in the thriving, wild, still-wet beauty of the gardens around him. The green was the greenest he had ever seen, and the trees reached for the sky as proud and significant as if they were soon to take to marching. They were not threatening; quite the opposite. The trees hardly noticed Jerry at all. He was insignificant to them. His awe of them was not important.

The nature of the plot, three grown gay men on vacation in a heavily gay populated beach destination, easily lends itself to hilarious hijinks and/or over-the-top melodrama. It is a credit to the author’s skill that, while we are treated to a bit of both, neither is too much. Indeed, the rollerskating possibly-transgendered (I was never quite sure) drag queen waitress seemed perfect in her place. Each of the three men experiences tremendous, dramatic (in the good sense) character growth. Tony learns that he is more than his disability. Doug discovers there is more to him than his whatzit. And Jerry figures out that he has the ability to control his invisibility switch. None of this is easily or painlessly learned, nor is it necessarily easy to read (Doug’s chocolate waffle breakdown was painful but more than a little amusing). Never fear: there is romance within these pages, but it is not the main focus.

If I had a niggle about Another Enchanted April, it is that some of the description was wasted on me. The gardens and the Manor House are vividly described, sometimes in more detail than I can wrap my mind around. I wanted to skip over the parts that seemed overly descriptive, but I was mostly successful in taming that impatient streak in me. Those of you who love descriptive prose will be in ecstasy in these gardens.

This book brings to mind the classics of Gay Literature, resonating as much as Andrew Holleran’s Dancer from the Dance or In September, the Light Changes, as much as Michael Cunningham’s A Home at the End of the World. No, this is not the traditional boy-meets-boy romance. It is so much more than that, all while being wonderfully accessible (Arvin loves to drop pop culture references) and, at times, wickedly funny. Recommended.

Nanna

Thank you for the excellent review. I personally would’ve given it 5 stars but then I love well-written books with long descriptions which create a unique atmosphere. While I was reading it , I was wondering the whole time whether this was fantasy or not and in the end I realized I didn’t care cause it was such a great and unusual read and it was very funny too which was an added bonus.

I’m so sick of the formulaic boy-meets-boy stories and this book definitely was anything but.

Tj

B – Really great review. This sounds like just my cup o’ tea with all that descriptive prose. Sorry about WP eating your review.

Patty

Hmm, Buda, maybe you need to claim lost reviews more often if it gets you a boy toy from Wave! πŸ˜‰

Very good review; if you hadn’t mentioned having problems writing the first one, I never would have known.

LadyM

Lovely review, Buda! This is a new author to me, so I really appreciate this. ^^

Aly

Wonderful review Buda! This is by far my favorite novel by Eric.

Reggie

Thanks for the great rec.! Loosing your review is a writers nightmare. I’m obsessive at saving my reports as I write them. You definitely need that visit from Wave’s guys to help you recover from the trauma! lol

I’ve added this to my TBR list and put the novels you mentioned on my library list. I have to catch up on my back list reading!

Thanks again, have a great weekend!

kel

Oh, how great! As I loved MC’s A Home At The End Of The World and I’ve enjoyed EA’s other books, this one sounds like a slam dunk for me. Thanks for the review – I’m off to buy it!

Luci

Thanks for the review. This sounds totally interesting. Sample has been downloaded and the way things are going this book shall have a new home in Kindle. Yay

Wave

Buda

Excellent review as always. This sounds like a truly delightful book (for me) because I love descriptive prose and your mention of Dancer from the Dance made me want to read this even more.

Sorry about WordPress Hell. I have experienced it more than 500 times and I sympathize. A boy toy is on his way to your place from the Friday Guys to make it up to you. πŸ™‚

brian

This sounds good, thanks for the review!

Cole

Hey Buda! I’ve been waiting for someone to review this book, it sounded like something that I’d like. I love descriptive prose and A Home at the End of the World is one of my favorite books as well. So thanks for reviewing it, I’m excited to read it now.

I just started reading Eric’s new book released at Dreamspinner yesterday Woke Up in a Strange Place. So far it’s really, really great πŸ™‚

brian

Ooh, Cole, please review that one next! πŸ˜‰ I’m dying to read it! No pressure of course. LOL

Marilyn

This sounds like a good read. I need to add it to my ever growing list. Thanks for the review, Buda.

Helena

So tempting…
Thank you for your review πŸ™‚

GR

How interesting – after “Simple Men,” I had decided to avoid this author’s work (it felt a bit flat to me), but this sounds like something I might enjoy. Thanks!

Eric Arvin

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! What a beautiful review! It made me blush. And Cunningham’s “A Home at the End of the World” is a favorite novel of mine.

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