The Parting Glass

glassTitle: The Parting Glass
Author: Josh Lanyon
Cover Photo: Author Marketing Club
Publisher: Just Joshin’ Publications
Amazon: The Parting Glass

Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: Novella (72 print pages)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

five_star_read_icon

A guest review by Tj

Summary Review: Josh Lanyon made me cry. He made my heart ache, and soar with joy. And I loved every second of it. And then went back to experience it all a second time and loved it even more.

The Blurb: Two and a half years ago, travel writer Timothy McShay let NYPD Detective Luke O’Brien talk him into hiking into the New Jersey Pine Barrens to face down a monster.

Now Tim and Luke meet again under very different circumstances. The old attraction is still there — but so are some of Tim’s monsters. Is it too late to find their way back to each other?

(This never before published short story is the sequel to In a Dark Wood.)

The Review: There’s something happening with Josh Lanyon. He’s always been a very talented writer, but his work this year has something new, something extra, something hard to put a label on. I sense a freshness, a new energy in his writing. Perhaps it’s the result of experience and maturity, which I’m sure factor in, but personally I believe it stems from his new work habits and (from what I’ve read) following his muse rather than some deadline schedule, which is how creative endeavors should be pursued. But whatever the reason, Mr. Lanyon has raised the bar for the entire genre.

The latest example of this comes in the form of a simply lovely novella The Parting Glass, a sequel to one of his earlier works, In a Dark Wood. While it would certainly magnify the impact of this story if you’ve read the first book, there is enough explanation given within these pages that you could enjoy the story if you haven’t. But I do recommend taking the time to read In a Dark Wood first. It’s a wonderfully scary tale and it will add so much to your enjoyment of this sequel.

Mr. Lanyon’s opening scenes are always clever and original, drawing you into his world, which he demonstrates again in the well written start of The Parting Glass wherein Tim and Luke from In a Dark Wood meet again after years of separation. Mr. Lanyon’s words so wonderfully evoked the unbridled joy that one feels when unexpectedly meeting someone who you never thought you’d see again. It’s that feeling that just uncontrollably bubbles up from deep inside – that unguarded moment when you forget to filter yourself and allow others a glimpse into your deepest feelings – at how truly thrilled you are to see this person. I’ll let Mr. Lanyon demonstrate how that feels. I dare you not to smile at their encounter.

We stared at each other. Stared and stared and couldn’t look away. Disbelieving happiness surged through me. 

“Luke?”

“Timmy?”

After all this time. Happiness was too thin, too watered down a word to describe that wellspring of feeling. Joy. That was the word. A blaze of delight that almost defied definition. His startled face was alight with it, and I guess mine must have been too. People around us were smiling as we grabbed each other.

”My God. Tim. I can’t believe it. You look…”

“You too!”

I could feel their sheer unadulterated joy, and the longing that surely was at it’s core. The depth of emotion that Mr. Lanyon elicits with his words, with what his characters say and equally importantly what they don’t, or rather can’t say is masterful.

I was grinning like a fool while reading, like one of the lucky people in the ticket line watching this scene unfold. That’s how strong these emotions were – too overwhelming to be contained by two people. They radiated out like the heat from a blazing fire on a Winter’s day, melting even the coldest of hearts. This is what I was trying to explain above. Josh Lanyon took an oft used theme – the reunion of lost lovers and made it fresh, exciting, heart-wrenching and so very real.

Mr. Lanyon recently tweeted about his new “angsty little cocktail with a dash of bitters and a splash of sweet”. I can see why one might call his creation angsty, but that misses the mark. For me, angst carries a connotation of somewhat over the top, and frustratingly extended, unresolved situations. Granted there are strong emotions at play here, unresolved feelings and a few old misunderstandings, but they’re presented with subtlety, lightly sprinkled with humor and weaved among strands of hopeful prose ultimately resolving in a realistic way. All combined to move this beyond what could have been “angsty”, to more of a bittersweet and emotional tale of second chances, making amends and to quote John Mayer*, learning to simply “say what you need to say”. We’re dragged to the emotional edge, but never pushed over the line where frustration starts and the situation presented stretches credibility.

I confess to being easily frustrated with angst-filled books, but that was not the case here. From the first words I was pulled in, expertly seduced into caring about Tim and Luke, subtly coaxed to experience what they were feeling and then taken on an emotional journey that has stayed with me and probably will continue to do so for some time.

I ached for Tim and Luke, ached for their lost time together, the missed chances. But also there was something more going on, something beneath all that joy at their reunion. You don’t feel that strength of emotion without some kind of deeper feelings lying beneath. I could sense a spark of their not quite extinguished love. And that spark, that flicker of hope is what kept me frantically turning pages, yearning for any hint that possibly they could make it this time.

So do yourself a favor and pick up The Parting Glass, a beautifully written story that will take you to an amazing place. And once you’ve been there, you’ll want to go back again and again. And if you’re not reading through a veil of tears when you get to, what was for me, one of the most emotional final scenes that I’ve read in many years, then it’s time for a trip to see the wizard to get a heart. And yes, you’ll be quite satisfied with the ending. Highly recommended.

*lyric quoted from the song “Say” by John Mayer

24 comments

  • I re-read In A Dark Wood which scared me shitless again 😯 😮 and then read The Parting Glass, not once but several times. I can’t remember a book I read recently that I enjoyed as much. Josh is the master at making the reader love his characters with a modicum of words and despite their flaws. TPG was everything you said in the review Teej, and although I didn’t cry, my heart ached for both Tim who had been through so much, and Luke who was left behind, wondering and grieving. Definitely one of Josh’s best.

    Thanks again Tj for this incredible review.

    Reply
    • Thank you Wave. Reading your comments makes me want to go back and experience it again. It’s such a beautifully written , moving story. I can see that you were as moved by Josh’s words as I was – despite your lack of tears. 😯 This is definitely one of Josh Lanyon’s best pieces of work and one thatI’ll also be reading again and again.

      Reply
  • Thanks TJ for putting into words what I haven’t been able to verbalize.

    I, too, finished this book with tears running down my cheeks. They weren’t tears of sadness or anguish. They were just THERE. This book was an experience for me. I loved it. I finished with a heart full. Full of admiration for Tim and Josh. Full of hope and courage.

    Great review TJ. I am glad you had the words to describe this journey. 😀

    Reply
    • No I agree, not tears of sadness. More tears from those emotions that seemed to leap off the page. It’s such a perfect ending. I had a full heart too. You used a less words than I did (I did get a bit carried away), but that’s a great way to sum up the story. Thanks Reggie.

      Reply
  • I am not even reading the review until I read the book, I don’t want any possible influence — then I will be back here blubbering (as your summary statement indicates). I loved the first book so much and was thankful that you could take on this review. I am sure you did it incredible justice, based on the other comments. And thanks for your kinds words above, Tj.

    Reply
    • Lynn – you haven’t read this yet? Well “Chop chop. Little lost llama is waiting”. 😉 (That’s your Josh Lanyon trivia quiz for the day.) I can’t wait to read what your reaction is.
      And the kind words are well deserved. You’re reviews have always been eloquent – something that I strived for, but didn’t always attain.

      Reply
      • Hmmmm…Icecapade?? I can’t find my copy of His for the Holidays anywhere but I seem to remember a llama…

        Reply
        • Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner! Very good Lynn. There were llamas… and psychics and bearishly grumpy detectives, Oh my! Icecapade and Lonestar are 2 of my favorite JL books.

          Reply
      • Gah. I stayed up way too late last night after I got home from an exhausting and frustrating meeting reading this. It was everything you said, Teej. Beautiful. Wonderful. So emotional. Josh is back and better than ever. And this review is all of those as well. Congrats to both of you. Now I am off to read it again so I can savor it…

        Reply
        • That’s exactly what happened to me Lynn. I started reading and couldn’t put it down. Stayed up way too late, but it was so worth it. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book – I was sure you would. It’s a beautiful, emotional story that I can’t wait to read again. And yes, Josh is better than ever.

          Reply
  • In a Dark Wood is my favorite Josh’s short story and I was so glad when I heard that he wrote a sequel. I can’t wait to read what happens with Tim and Luke. Thanks for the review! 🙂

    Reply
    • Well LadyM if In a Dark Wood is your favorite Josh Lanyon short story, then you’re sure to really enjoy this sequel.

      Reply
  • I wholeheartedly agree with all you’ve written here.
    I liked In a Dark Wood very much and I love this one.
    And the cover is stunning, btw. 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh, I forgot to mention the cover. Yes, I agree cloudless, it’s stunning – by far my favorite Josh Lanyon cover.

      Reply
  • I think TJ is fast becoming one of my favorite reviewers.

    That’s a good point about “angst.” Not quite sure how to describe a story like this. Emotional maybe? But then all stories are emotional. Hmm. Something to think about.

    Thank you, Wave. Thank you, TJ.

    Reply
    • Well thank you Josh. That means a lot coming from you.

      I think emotional is a better descriptor for this book. Although many stories deal with emotions – that is describe them and explore them, your story was truly emotional for me in that you went beyond merely describing emotions, but actually caused me to feel them. That’s an emotional book for me.

      Reply
  • So you’re showing me up again Tj with what I consider to be one of the most beautiful, evocative pieces of review writing on this site. I’m saving this book for the weekend so that I can re-read In A Dark Wood before I bring out the tissues and the wine. 😀

    Thanks as always Teej for being such an incredible contributor to the site and for making me look so smart in managing to persuade you to become a reviewer. The cheque is in the mail. 😆

    Reply
    • Good Morning Wave! First of all, thank you. You’ve put a silly grin on my face with your kind words. But I can’t take all the credit for my reviewing style. I learned from the very best with you, as well as Aunt Lynn. And you’ve helped me on many occasions when I felt stuck. So thank you for your guidance, support and most importantly friendship. (Gotta “Say what you need to say”!)

      Secondly, this story from Josh Lanyon was so beautifully written, perhaps one of his best. After finishing my first reading, the words just burst forth. The raw emotions that he so eloquently elicited in me had to be expressed. Although I’ve read this story more than once, I envy you the experience of the first reading. You’ll laugh and cry, but it’s so worth it.

      Reply
  • I am SO looking forward to reading this story, I’ve been trying to hold off until the weekend, but I keep sneaking in a page(s) here and there, because it just PULLS you in…
    your review was wonderful and expresses what is so beautiful about Joshs’ writing.
    I also believe “In a Dark Wood” should not be missed, it sets up the initial meeting of Tim and Luke and is a first-rate, and scary, story on its own. It’s one I’ve reread many, many times.

    Reply
    • Thank you rdafan. That’s really nice of you to say. I give you a lot of credit for holding off for the weekend. I was not that strong. I had to buy this book the morning it was released and was reading it during my lunch break. It drew me right in – so much so that I read past what should’ve been the end of my lunch hour! I’ve read it twice so far, but I know this will be a much reread book.

      Reply

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