Anything For You


Title: Anything For You
Author: Ethan Day
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 33K Words, 110 PDF pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

** This review and some of the comments contain what could be considered as spoilers**

Review Summary: The writing more than anything won me over, even though I didn’t love the characters.

THE BLURB

Jason Miller is still in the closet. He’s never found a reason to kick the door open, walk into the light of day, and tell the world he’s gay. At least that’s what he keeps telling himself — along with a multitude of other solid arguments. As an ad man, he’s used to hawking a bill of goods, he just never imagined he’d fall victim to his own hype.

When ex-activist/coming out guru, Chad Wellington came along, he was the one thing Jason never saw coming. Like a moth to a flame these two opposites ignite leaving Jason to decide if he can handle the heat.

THE REVIEW

This story changed my perception of Ethan Day as a writer. I always loved his books which are laugh out loud funny and they are all comfort reads for me, but Anything for You showed that he is capable of much more than a funny script, warm lovable characters, laugh out loud lines (although the lines were still there), and a great finish. 

Jason blamed everyone but himself  for his unhappy life, something that was his own fault since he stubbornly remained in the closet all his adult life. He felt that his family, his work associates, his friends, even random people on the street were all responsible for his unhappiness, and he refused to acknowledge that hiding his sexual orientation was the major reason for his screwed-up life. Could he be more delusional? His appearance of “complete and total butchness,” was a smokescreen since all his friends were gay, but he had to maintain the illusion to others that he was straight because he lived in fear of being exposed for who he was. He lied to everyone outside of his gay friends, either deliberately or by omission, about his sexual orientation and then wondered why they couldn’t accept him for who he was. Eventually the stress of always being ‘on,’ remembering his lines, maintaining his public persona and cues i.e. saying “she” rather than “he” when asked about his love life, etc., began to take its toll, as the lying became harder after 10 years of living in two worlds.

Jason was now so embittered that his unhappiness was affecting how he treated others. The people who felt most of the impact that his dysfunctional life was having on his personality were those closest to him – his lesbian sister Annie and his best friend Brent.  Annie was in a relationship and Brent had found the man of his dreams, but instead of being happy for them Jason became even more bitter and it showed in his behaviour, even though he loved them. Living such a huge lie 24/7 had changed who he was and made him into a bitchy drama queen who wanted to get back at his friends and loved ones and make them just as miserable as he was. Then he met Chad.

Chad was the complete opposite to Jason. He lived his life out in the open and refused to stay in anyone’s closet. He was coordinator for a National coming out program in Washington D.C and had until recently been in love with a closeted politician, but his lover dumped him when rumours circulated about the affair and he was politely given the boot from his job as well. Talk about two body blows at the same time. Chad left Washington and returned to Missouri to lick his wounds and start over and when he saw a picture of Jason at Brent’s apartment he fell for him. Brent arranged for a blind date weekend at Chad’s request, at another couple’s country home, and when Jason met him it was all systems go. But of course there were many challenges to a relationship between them, especially Jason’s aversion to being ‘out’ in public as Chad’s lover. Meeting Chad’s parents who disapproved of his lifestyle and his gay lover was a huge milestone, and having dinner with the ‘rents was a not to be missed experience. That was when I felt perhaps  Jason was redeemable, as he stood up for his man, and I really started liking him.

As I mentioned earlier in this review, I didn’t find Jason a likeable character by any stretch of  the imagination, and it wasn’t until I was half way into the book that I began to warm up to him, as I started to understand his struggle to be true to who he was, a gay man. He hated the person he had become and this was what made him bitter towards life in general, and those close to him in particular. Being envious of Brent’s and Annie’s happiness led to him internalizing his feelings of jealousy and then lashing out, but he wasn’t a bad person, he was just stuck in a place where he couldn’t figure a way out without exposing himself, something he had spent a decade hiding from everyone but his gay friends and lovers. He realized what a bonehead he had become and that he was in danger of losing everyone if he didn’t change; that was something in his favour, and in his defense, he felt that everyone had deserted him when they moved on and he had no one. When Chad came into his life he knew what it would take to keep him, yet again he didn’t have the courage and insight to do what was painfully obvious to everyone else. 

What about his new love Chad who seemed too good to be true? In a way he was. Chad, who at first was tolerant of Jason’s desire to remain in the closet, embarrassed him publicly, so he wasn’t as nice as he appeared to be – quite the opposite. I had wondered about Chad and how long he would stay with a man who refused to come out, and he proved that he could be just as manipulative and devious when it suited him. He also made it clear to Jason, without words, that if he didn’t change soon it was goodbye, so he knew when and how to apply the right kind of pressure to get what he wanted. He was another complex and well drawn character.

With two such protagonists it’s no wonder that I felt as if I was standing on a precipice waiting to see who would fall over the edge first. Luckily the characters evolved before they became unredeemable, despite all the personal baggage, but it was touch and go for a while. I thought that Jason’s growth was enormous considering where he started and how far he came.  He learned what was really important, that loving someone trumped the pain of exposing your underbelly, your fears, and being vulnerable. This book is definitely not the usual romantic comedy that I’m accustomed to from Ethan Day because the characters were atypical. If it weren’t for his trademark humour which was delivered with a much sharper blade, I might have wondered if he had a ghost writer for some parts of the story and his protagonist Jason.

I think it took a lot of courage on Ethan Day’s part to write such complex flawed protagonists. I’m sure he realized that many of his fans might not appreciate Jason, because although the humour was there in spades it was not the usual self deprecating, warm and fuzzy kind. Instead the author directed his rapier like thrusts at his characters whom he normally treated with love, even if he gently poked fun of them. When I first read this story I felt as if he was having fun at the readers’ expense and that all of a sudden he would come out of his closet, 🙂  yell “boo,” and give us a different book with new characters. Then I realized how clever he was because he demonstrated considerable growth as a writer in terms of his skill to turn the story and the characters around on a dime. You may not like Anything For You when you first start reading it, but it’s well worth the angst to experience Jason’s journey from self loathing to self actualization, although you might want to kick the rat bastard many times and tell him to stop blaming everyone for the mess he had made of his life. As for Chad, I  still don’t get the rationale of why he would want to be with someone like Jason since he knew going in that he was in the closet, the same reason why his previous affair had broken up. However, clearly I’m not a writer so what do I know? 🙂  I almost forgot – the sex was everything I expect from this author – hot, sensual, intense and kickass. Also, Annie was inspired although over the top like many of Ethan’s characters, but she, too, was not a fave!

This was one of the most difficult books for me to rate but I think I got it right …. maybe. I wavered back and forth before finally deciding (I might still change my mind) 🙂 but the writing won me over.

Whoever said that nothing good comes easy was right.

Highly recommended.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

47 comments

  • Wave, I think you really nailed it with the review. Though I wasn’t certain about that until I read through the comments and thought about it some more. I just finished reading it, so I’m still sorting out my impressions and that really helped.

    I had one niggle with this book I haven’t seen anyone mention yet. While I think this book was as well-written as all of Ethan’s books, there was one phrase that popped up a few times and made me do the tilted-head-confused-Scoobie look every time I read it. I don’t remember noticing it in previous stories, but I suspect the detachment caused by disliking the characters made me notice the language more. Or maybe it is unique to this book. The phrase being “I seem[ed] to…”

    For example, when Jason’s sister comes over to his apartment in chaos and he says “…I too seemed to realize exactly how disorganized my apartment was.” Or “I shook my head, seeming to realize for the first time how crazy that sounded.” So, what, you didn’t actually realize it but just gave the appearance of doing so? Since it was Jason’s first-person pov, that just didn’t make sense to me.

    Ethan, I really appreciate you taking the time to explain to us what you were thinking when you wrote it. I still don’t like any of the characters except Brent. And I even wonder about him, given what jerks his best friend and boyfriend are. I felt like Chad didn’t grovel enough and Jason forgave him too easily, but there was something niggling at the edges of my mind, like a tip-of-the-tongue sort of thing. Your explanation about Jason being just too exhausted at that point and sorta resigned was like having someone say the word I’d been grasping for; it finally crystalized for me. Whew, thank you!

    I’d be very curious to see Jason and Chad a year or three down the line and see if they’re still together or with whom they end up HEA.

    Reply
    • Hi Jessica

      For example, when Jason’s sister comes over to his apartment in chaos and he says “…I too seemed to realize exactly how disorganized my apartment was.” Or “I shook my head, seeming to realize for the first time how crazy that sounded.” So, what, you didn’t actually realize it but just gave the appearance of doing so? Since it was Jason’s first-person pov, that just didn’t make sense to me.

      I did notice it, but I thought of it as talking to himself, the way we do when we’re drunk. LOL sort of like “Wow, I seem to be a bit tipsy” OR “I seem to be more disorganized than I thought” OR “I might be a whole lot more of a collector than I thought I was” if that makes sense to you. I recognized this weird phrasing because I catch myself thinking out loud at times along the same vein. Crazy!! But it did make sense to me.

      I’m glad you thought I did credit to the book in the review and I do agree that the characters were not ones I would want to take home with me. 🙂

      Reply
  • Thank you for the review! As long as a book is book is well-written, I don’t care if the characters are likable. Those gay Mary Sue we get in so many books bore me to tears so this is definitely one of the next books I’m going to read.

    Reply
    • Hi Enny
      I’m so glad that you’re willing to take a risk on this book. I think you will at least find the characters intriguing even if you don’t find them likeable. They are certainly not boring.

      Let me know your reaction to AFY after you read it please. It might take you 2 reads to really appreciate it. That’s what I had to do because the first time I was prepared to write it off, but when I realized how true to life it was I persevered and found that it was entirely a different book. 😯

      Reply
        • With motivation like that, I had to read Anything for You of course 😉 I just finished the book and I loved it even though I couldn’t stand either of the characters.

          I thought Chad was a conniving and manipulative little bastard who believed that he knew what was good for his partner which is something I absolutely hate in a relationship. Jason reminded me a lot of the boyfriend of one of my roomies in college who lived with his wife and kids during the week and then descended on us during the weekend. He’d tell each and everyone what was wrong with us and our lives when he wasn’t fucking Günther till he screamed. (The fact that he’d put his ginormous dog in the hallway at night so that it wouldn’t interfere with said fucking and that the dog would growl on anyone trying to go to the bathroom made us love him even less.)

          It also took me a while to get over the fact that it was a humorous story about a closeted guy. I know a couple of guys who’re unable to come out for various reasons and the closet isn’t a fun place to be.

          But the book was extremely funny and well-written and Ethan managed to make the motivations, hopes and fears of the characters (no matter how flawed they were) easily understandable so that I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards the poor misguided darlings. After all, that’s how people are in real life: torn, imperfect, inconsequent and stumbling through life trying to find happiness.

          The most wonderful thing about this book was how it showed us that real love is amazing because it makes us dare to do things we’d never do for ourselves but which we will do for the one we love.

          Reply
          • Hi Enny
            I’m so glad you came to the same conclusion I did about this story. Two such unlikeable protagonists,especially that two-faced prick Chad who I couldn’t stand because he was too good to be true and smarmy on top of it. But hell what writing!!

            I don’t love the characterfs but Ethan nailed them and proved that his writing is a class act. The first time I read this book I wasn’t a fan, then I talked to a few people here, two of whom are gay, and also a friend who is in the closet and he more than anyone explained to me what his life was like so I got what Ethan was trying to tell his readers. Life is definitely not a bowl of cherries in said closet.

            I love your story about the BF of one of your college roomies. How hilarious. And the dog? Incredible. The stories you could tell.

            Well I’m so glad that you too saw Ethan’s truth, that rat bastard, and I don’t mean Jason. 🙂

            Reply
          • Hey Enny

            I’m forever going back and forth on the topic of these guys who get married and have kids, then screw around with guys on the side. I have sisters, so the thought of anyone doing that to one of them drives me mental. I’d wanna kill the SOB! At the same time I’m all to aware of the world we live in. There are STILL people who think being gay is a curable disease for crying out loud. Until we get to a point where everyone is allowed to be the people they were born to be, this type of thing will continue to happen.

            I think its sad for everyone…I mean seriously…my soul mate could be married to a friggin’ woman right now!! That is SO not okay! : )

            Reply
    • Jo
      I’m glad you’re not put off by the review and all the comments and actually want to read the book because of them. I think AFY is definitely worth reading, if only to see how Ethan’s writing is changing. I hope you enjoy the book, but you may need 2 reads to do so. 😀

      Reply
  • I have loved everything of Ethan’s I have ever read (which would be ALL of his books *grins*). I agree with your review, because it took me the better part of the book to like Jason even a little. Though his dialogue was indeed laugh-out-loud funny to me, at the same time I thought he was a total sh^t. After reading the book not once but twice in one night, I began to see him a bit differently. I think he was trapped in his bitterness just as he was trapped in the closet. After I finished reading the second time, I thought about why two polar opposites would be together. And then, a light bulb went off! Jason and Chad truly fit into the “opposites attract” category, at least to me. Kind of like a couple who don’t share a love of the same kind of music, or political beliefs may come together. Chad is out and proud and Jason is in and bitter. Though Jason does realize that he CAN be openly gay, the realization is so sudden, I don’t think it changes him too much….I think he is still the person he always was, with a little less bitter, but a dash of sweet.

    I gummed this up but good dammit! It made sense when I wrote it but lost something in the reading. Oh well! I think you may get the idea of what I was trying to say. Anything For You was indeed worth reading, and Ethan has shown us another side of himself.

    Reply
    • Elaine
      I understood perfectly what you meant. 🙂 That’s exactly how I tried to explain my reaction to the book (with a lot of useless words) 🙂

      This is a classic case of “opposites attract,” but with a bite. There are no rose coloured glasses here – it’s almost like watching a reality show and waiting to see who would screw up the most. I thought of that analogy when i was writing the review, except no one would dare write that script.

      Though Jason does realize that he CAN be openly gay, the realization is so sudden, I don’t think it changes him too much….I think he is still the person he always was, with a little less bitter, but a dash of sweet.

      I would have liked to see a sequel about Jason and Chad a year into their relationship but I don’t know if my heart could take it. Probably too much angst. 😮

      Reply
    • Hi ElaineG! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the book and also found Jason to be entertaining if not altogether lovable. That’s how I’d probably describe him as well. : )

      Reply
  • Okay, obviously I need to read this one again as this may have been my least favorite book book yet by one of my most favoriteist authors. Considering that we talked about it earlier in the week, Wave, and we were pretty much on the same page at the time, I was a bit surprised at your review, which was excellent btw. It really must have been that second reading that did it for you because I’m not there yet.

    Though far from hating it, I didn’t love it. I had a whole explanation written out about what didn’t work for me and why, but before I say too much about that, I think what I need to re-read it tomorrow and re-comment. Perhaps, like you, I will see it in a different, more favorable light.

    Reply
    • Hi Lynn

      What did it for me was talking to a lot of people about coming out, or deciding to live on the down low – the mental and sometimes physical toll this takes on gay men or women who decide to stay in the closet, and how this affects who they are and the way they treat everyone. Re-reading the book in that light made me see Jason and his actions in a totally different, more realistic light. I spoke at length before writing the review to a friend who is actually in the closet and when he explained what his life was like I understood Ethan’s point.

      Not being gay, I had no idea of some of what Ethan tried to portray in his book, which sounded at times as if he was writing about people he knew. I got it. So when I re-read Anything for You I saw Jason differently from the jerk I originally thought. I never did end up loving him but I appreciated the trauma that people like him might have had to live through and what this does to them, how it changes basically who they are.

      This will never be my most favourite Ethan Day book but I gained a great deal of respect for his writing, which as I said in the review has evolved from lovely slices of life in a fun way to more hard hitting, realistic stories. This book, while still funny in a sarcastic sense, definitely didn’t “play nice” with his characters, but rather made them take a good hard look at themselves in the harsh light of day.

      I hope this explains why I changed my mind after re-reading this book. This was probably one of the toughest if not the toughest book to review because it could have gone either way. I could have taken it at face value which is what I did the first time, or looked deeper.

      I definitely recommend that you re-read Anything for You and maybe you’ll be able to see it in a different light. I know I did – after kicking the rat bastard Jason in the nuts. 🙂

      Many readers would not like AFY because it hits at the core of what makes people act the way they do and a lot of us don’t like that. Let’s face it, we read mostly for entertainment and to get away from reality. This book makes some of us face that reality and it’s not a nice picture. After this book I want to read something nice and fluffy. 🙂

      I look forward to hearing from you after you have read the book a second time, 🙂 taking into account why I changed my mind. You may still be of the same view about the book then, but I hope you will understand the reason why my review is so different from our original conversation.

      Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear the book didn’t work for you Lynn, but I do understand why. I certainly don’t want you or anyone else spending your time trying to force it into working for you, despite sincerely appreciating the fact you’d have the desire to do so. I love all y’all for that! : ) Seriously…I’d give you a giant hug right now if I could!

      Same for Wave – I’m so flattered you took the time to see this book and its characters from more than one angle. I don’t want anyone to get the impression that each and every book I write from this point forward will have characters and situations like this book. Hopefully each book is different in its own way.

      I always begin with the character and the resulting story is the journey of that character, at least as I see it playing out in my head. Jason was just one of the many running around inside the giant maze inside my brain. Hopefully I’ll get them all out at one point or another, and I don’t expect each one to be loved by all. But I don’t believe each will be as difficult to love as these guys were either.

      Reply

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