Title: Back to Normal
Author: Wren Boudreau
Publisher: Loose Id
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel (186 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Lily
An emotional and often humorous story that combines the theme of coming out with an opposites attracts plot.
Celebrating “Coming Out Day” 2010
Is it normal for a romance to blossom between a man who’s in the closet and a man who’s never wanted more than a hook-up? How about when a clairvoyant grandmother and the ghost of a dead aunt are thrown into the mix, along with a stiletto-wearing twin sister, an Irish pub, a detective brother, and a mother who thinks her son just needs a good woman?
Greg Capello thought that he’d feel normal if he pretended he wasn’t gay, and now it’s making him crazy that he can’t stop thinking about his new boss Finn Sparks: Finn’s amber eyes, brilliant smile, and strong hands, among other things. Finn thinks it’s not normal that instead of wanting to hop into bed with Greg, he’d like to know more about the man, like what’s under that starchy exterior, and who he’s talking to when it appears no one’s there.
They can’t fight the attraction between them; every time they touch it’s electric. So Finn finds himself taking it slow and going on dates, for crying out loud. And Greg has to accept himself, or accept the consequences of staying hidden.
So…what’s normal anyway?
Newly divorced and faced with losing not one but two jobs at once could have anyone at the breaking point. Add in the fact that the ghost of his aunt lives in his head and his fear of facing his sexuality and Greg Capello seems to really be heading for a breakdown. When he meets Finn Sparks his safe and orderly life suddenly takes another unexpected turn. As they slowly form a friendship will Greg finally find the strength to accept who he really is and reach out for true love?
I really enjoyed this well-written and entertaining story. Both Greg and Finn are likable, three-dimensional characters and the slow progression of their relationship worked well. Greg especially is an interesting character. He’s lived with the ghost of his dead Aunt Coco in his head for the past twelve years and while at first I wasn’t sure how that would work in this ‘romantic coming out’ story I really enjoyed their scenes. Finn for his part has an interesting family that includes a clairvoyant grandmother which made it easy for him to believe and understand Greg and Aunt Coco’s strange relationship. The supporting characters in Back to Normal are entertaining and instead of just being page filler they bring humor and a nice emotional touch to the story.
The heart of the story though is Greg and Finn’s personal growth as well as how their relationship slowly blossoms. Greg suffered physical and emotional trauma at a young age just when he was starting to explore his sexuality and that resulted in Greg totally repressing his attraction to men. Finn for his part is an out and proud man with a well-deserved reputation for one-night stands with no commitment. Outwardly they appear to have very little in common but the more they work together the harder it becomes to deny their mutual attraction. Greg has to find the courage to accept himself and find a way to let others know who he really is. Finn’s journey is one of maturity. He slowly comes to the realization that casual sex without a connection to the other person isn’t what he needs. I really loved how the author allowed their feelings to slowly develop and didn’t rush them along. When it came time for them to finally acknowledge those feelings and act on them it was well worth the wait. This is a case of quality over quantity and it worked really well.
I did however have one issue with the book and that was the ending. It felt a bit rushed and somewhat over the top and the manner in which Greg publicly ‘comes out’ felt wrong. I really liked the scene where he came out to his brother, who was a great character as well, and I would have preferred the rest to have followed that path.
Overall however I really enjoyed Back to Normal. It’s an engaging story with memorable characters and is a wonderful second offering by Wren Boudreau. Highly recommended.