Title: Windows In Time
Author: M. Jules Aedin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: contemporary gay romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
A guest review by Kassa
Fate added injury to insult when Jonah Sellers’s live-in boyfriend left him: while moving out his ex’s belongings, Jonah fell down the stairs and broke his leg. Now his house is a prison, and he’s working from home while his sister checks up on him. The only diversion in Jonah’s routine is catching the odd glimpse of a man in the apartment across the way taking off his clothes in front of the window.
But then Jonah is distracted by Liam Brooks, the nurse his sister sends over when she goes on vacation. As they dance around their growing attraction, Jonah and Liam begin to wonder about the man in the window. Why is he always dressed in the same clothes? Why is he there one minute and not the next? How is it that he lives in an old woman’s apartment? It’s while trying to answer these questions that they stumble across a fifty-year-old missing persons case they can’t resist trying to solve.
As a fan of the author’s short stories, I had some trepidation if the excellence of previous work can be extended into longer novels. It’s not always a smooth and positive transition but Aedin has delivered a wonderfully engrossing tale of two sets of lovers. Clever with a bit of homage to the Hitchcock’s classic “Rear View Window,” the interesting take on the concept allows this great book to stand on its own. Emotional and sensual without any explicit sex, this is a classic romance story that is sure to delight fans. Be sure to set aside the time so you can read the book in one sitting, you won’t want to put it down.
Jonah Seller’s is having a rough month. His boyfriend of three years left him and in the process of moving the inevitable boxes, Jonah broke his leg. Now housebound, the inspiring writer discovers an image of the man in the apartment directly across from his. This image appears and disappears, tantalizing the often bored Jonah who can’t resist the distraction. Soon, Jonah involves ghost lover Liam into the mystery and the two balance a slow seduction with an irresistible ghost hunt.
The book follows two stories in parallel. The first is the story of Jonah and Liam as they meet and become embroiled in this mystery. Their relationship has a few stops and starts as the shy Liam and emotionally recovering Jonah don’t just fall into bed together. Alternating chapters with this story is the relationship between Buck and Oliver set in 1957, the months before both men went missing. Buck is a Hollywood reporter and Oliver is the son of a local wealthy businessman. The relationship has its own problems as Buck is a closeted homosexual and Oliver frequently cross dresses as a gorgeous woman. The stories contain numerous parallels as the two relationships progress to the climax of the book when the mystery of Buck and Oliver’s disappearance is finally solved.
The combination of the two stories is wonderfully blended, showing the parallels between the characters and situations even as they are separated by half a century. The story is told from third person point of view from Jonah and Buck’s perspective; however, all four of the main characters are given depth and developed as much as possible. Oliver is perhaps the least well known of the characters but this only increases his appeal as his emotions are clearly shown through various situations, quiet comments, and pictures during that time. Oliver is a complicated character as he struggles with his dual nature as Oliver and Minna, while trusting his heart to Buck. Oliver has hidden depths and strengths for all his fragile and pretty exterior and captivates scenes.
Buck is an equally interesting character but perhaps less complicated than Oliver. He is strong and outgoing while covering a deeply romantic and sensualist persona. He loves the game of Hollywood and the mystique of escorting Oliver as Minna, a subtle finger to the oppressive environment. Buck is also a wonderful support for Oliver, falling for his female persona first and then Oliver with his masculine strength and force of will. Buck’s musing sums up his feelings about Oliver perfectly:
He was mouthwatering as a man and was the only woman who had ever made Buck’s heart beat double-time.
Buck and Jonah have many parallels in their characters and response to love. Both men reach for happiness where it exists and only question their actions in regards to how the other man is affected. This selflessness is an essential part of both Buck and Jonah. Whereas Buck leaps headfirst into the relationship with Oliver, Jonah has several moments questioning if he is on the rebound and will ultimately hurt the shy, questioning Liam. Jonah experiences frustration with Liam’s actions but eventually comes to understand Liam, his soft heart, and inability to communicate very well. Jonah instinctively understands the other man, eliminating Liam’s awkwardness and replacing it with an attractive confidence. Jonah’s curiosity and sensuality are an inherent part of his personality and add a wonderful texture to the character.
Liam is perhaps the least interesting of the four men, but not by much. His love of ghosts and desire to live a secret life as a ghost hunter on TAPS is hilarious and adds a quirky charm to the sometimes tongue tied young man. His competency and confidence emerge just as often creating a dynamic, multifaceted character. Liam parallels Oliver in a lot of ways, but perhaps less so than Buck and Jonah. The couples are clearly drawn to show their connections, with each other and with each couple, yet there are inherent differences and unique attributes that define the men as individuals.
The tale is engrossing and absorbing, even as the mystery is predictable. The mystery itself and the question of what happened to Oliver and Buck is not meant to be surprising and shocking, although whether the two run away together or something more sinister is a question to the very end. The journey and relationship of both couples is really the main element, and strength, of the story. It’s not so much of a who-dun-it or even a question of why, but the depth of emotion, the progression of both relationships and the exploration of the characters which shine and engage the reader. Both stories are incredibly romantic and sensual without adding explicit sex, instead allowing the men and their emotional connection to entice and tantalize. The combination produces a lovely story of four men, set half a century apart, and still modern.
Wonderfully written and instantly engaging, this story will appeal to romance fans and especially those who love a glimpse at old Hollywood. The dual settings are well crafted and although they are more for atmosphere, the texture and detail add to the fuller picture. The clever twist on the classic idea show how homage can shine while creating a story standing easily on its own without too much comparison. Be sure to pick up this book, you won’t be disappointed.