A guest review by Kassa
Joel Harfner and Luke Townsend, lovers for two years, have just bought their first home together in Scarborough, Maine. In a moment of domestic impetuosity, Joel proposes to Luke, who says yes. Then, to Joel’s surprise, Luke says he wants a wedding with “all the bells and whistles.” Joel, who never expected to be married, suddenly finds himself in the midst of planning a full-scale destination event to be held in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Why Massachusetts? As Joel says, “We can’t get married in Maine — yet — but we are ever hopeful.” Taming Groomzilla tells the story of how Joel and Luke navigate the tribulations of the six months from “Will you marry me?” to “I do.” And while they do seal their union, complete with a kiss, there is more than one twist and turn in store to complicate their journey and keep the reader hilariously entertained. A portion of the profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Maine Freedom to Marry and EqualityMaine, organizations that are fighting to keep same-sex marriage legal in Maine.
A delightful, entertaining story about a very happy gay couple that turns into funny but crazy grooms when planning their wedding. Joel and Luke are moving into their first house together and on the spur of the moment, Joel proposes. Although the proposal starts offhand, the emotion and sentiment involved is very true. Luke wants a real wedding with all the trimmings and soon Joel is overwhelmed with clothing choices (kilts?!), cakes (who knew they were so expensive!), venues (six months, are you nuts??) and through it all, Joel struggles to remember why they’re doing this in the first place. Thankfully the committed couple has enough time together to solidify what is important to them.
This story is wonderfully written with great characterization and often poignant moments of emotion mixed with hilarious planning antics. As an introductory novella from a new author, this shorter story is a true gem. The characters are fully realized and developed. Joel is the first person narrator and has a fun, witty voice as a stereotypical gay hairdresser that is anything but predictable. Both Joel and Luke get caught up in wedding plans and gift registry, injecting a lot of humor and sympathy into the narrative. The fag hag attendants are a perfect touch, especially as Joel stresses over his recent hag-less state.
The occasional overwhelming details of planning a wedding are offset by the solid relationship between the two men. Their love is clearly shown in various small details and gestures. Even without any explicit sex scenes included, the suggestion of a vigorous and satisfying sex life is obvious. Here the author is able to please fans without lengthy graphic scenes by adding tantalizing phrases such as:
“That night we made love and it was hard and fast and more intense and passionate than it had been in awhile—and I loved it. He pounded my ass into the mattress.”
Often the importance of gay marriage is highlighted in subtle but poignant moments. Most especially is a conversation between Joel and his mother. It’s too long to include in its entirety but the emotion is touching and moving. Without needing to preach or argue, the simple truth of the issue is stirringly depicted. Here is only a short excerpt but portrays the sentiment of the scene:
“But there’s another group of people who… while they might not approve, won’t actively fight to prevent you getting married. They ‘tolerate’ you… go ahead and get married, but do it privately and quietly. Don’t put wedding announcements in the paper, don’t have a big, splashy ceremony… and I think those people are just as wrong. Joel, you are my son, and I love you. You are not someone to be ‘tolerated.’”
Fans of the genre will enjoy the story and laugh, perhaps even cry, along with the characters as they plan what they thought would be a simple affair. The clean writing, evocative emotion and creative imagination all deliver a thoroughly engaging and delightful story. The ending is romantic, sweet, and very fitting as life and love is more important than any particular event. For only 60 pages, this story has no missteps, with crisp, clean prose and brings a fresh, entertaining voice to the narrator. You’ll definitely want to pick up a copy.