A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A surprisingly sweet Gay-For-You romance with awww… shucks factor.
The Blurb: After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Jonathan looks back on his career-focused life and sees nothing but empty years behind him. His desire for success has left him without a single happy memory, and completely alone.
While shocked by the news, he stumbles into Nino: a man without a steady job, without a permanent home and, as happy as a person can be. On the spur of the moment they set off to an adventure by the sea, with good food, loads of sun, and rising attraction. Only both hide secrets from each other as they fight against the sparks that keep on lighting the flames.
They set out for some fun, but found the adventure of both of their lives…
What do you do when you learn that you have mere months to live? Jonathan has to face this question when he’s diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor at the age of thirty. Looking back at his life, he is shocked to realize that he actually hasn’t lived at all. After meeting Nino, who is brimming over with life, Jonathan decides to make up for all the lost time and for all the time fate is going to deny him in the few weeks he’s still left. Who could be a better guide on this adventure trip than Nino, a man who obviously knows how to live his life to the fullest? On the spur of a moment, Jonathan hires Nino, and off they go on a vacation which is Jonathan’s first and, for all he knows, the last one in his life.
From the very beginning Jonathan is more than just an employer to Nino. Over time, their relationship evolves into a friendship, and Nino is soon helplessly smitten by his handsome boss. But Jonathan is obviously straight like an arrow, and Nino fears rejection should Jon find out about his real feelings and his sexual orientation so he keeps them a secret. As Nino’s crush subtly turns into love, he finally can’t bear it anymore and takes the lap of faith.
Jonathan has never felt attracted to another man before. But this trip has been a series of “firsts” for him, and his growing attraction for Nino is yet another one. Only that his feelings soon go far beyond sexual attraction. It doesn’t matter anymore that Nino is a man, this might be Jon’s only chance at love, and so he grabs it with both hands.
Sounds familiar? Yes, it is – it’s the typical Gay For You setup, and yet it isn’t . The author takes the cliche and turns it into something worthwile, not entirely new, but far from stereotypical. Actually this book had a number of plot elements which could have easily come across as clichéd and still weren’t – the GFY, both character’s physical perfectness, a background of financial wealth, Jon’s incommunicado which lead to misunderstanding and separation – yet those were adressed with a wholeheartedness which turned them into something pleasant and familiar I could douse myself in like in a warm scented bath. I must admit I have a penchant for books that exude this feeling of heartfelt honesty, and thus I could forgive any shortcomings that would have bothered me otherwise.
The exceptional situation, the slow build from trust to frindship to love makes the entire development almost believable. Nino and Jon were so cute in the serious way they discussed their respective fears and concerns, soothing and reassuring each other. And they talked about everything – love, life, music, condoms, gay and straight, fashion, books, etcetera. The talking was even a bit overdone at times, when they talked to each other like – well, like characters in a book, in well- worded sentences and long paragraphs. In the beginning their manners of speaking were very different while getting more similar the closer Jon and Nino become – Jon even comments on the fact that he starts to sound like Nino over time.
Since the story is told in the alternating first person narrative voices of both main characters, we get to know both heroes very well. I immediately fell in love with Nino, who is a true hedonist and still has enough depth to keep him from being superficial. In the beginning, Jonathan is indeed the stiff Nino calls him, but he eases up pretty fast through the island life, the sun and Nino’s relaxed affection. However, it’s awfully hard to give two different first – person – narrators distinctive voices of their own, and this was barely achieved here. Yet, I could easily forgive that niggle since both characters were likeable and real.
This book is set in Croatia, mostly on one of the islands off the ancient city of Split. The locale is mentioned several times, but I didn’t feel that it mattered much in itself – although this might be due to the fact that I’m also a European, and people from a different culture might think otherwise. I found that the book had a certain cosmopolitic feel about it, an atmosphere which would have fit most touristic summer vacation places anywhere in the world. Even Jon’s name, Jonathan Morgan, sounded more English than Croatian; I kept looking for a hint that he might be an expatriate, but he was obviously meant to be a native. However, the summer holiday feeling, the beauty of the island and the sea were captured perfectly and went a long way to make this book a real treat when it comes to escapism. And this book was pure escapism; funny at times, but not without depth, a romantic and heartwarming story of finding love when it’s last expected.
If you’re in the mood for a comforting, relaxing read with lovingly drawn, likeable characters, then go for this book, you can’t go wrong.
The awww…shucks? Look for the tattoos! :hearts02: