A guest review by Jenre
An emotional story which tells of three very different men brought together through illness, and manages to make what could have been quite a maudlin tale into something hopeful and ultimately uplifting.
When bestselling novelist Mick Henley contacts his editor and former lover, Paul Alcott, after a seven-year absence, hearing Mick’s voice reinforces what Paul has known all along?he still loves Mick. The possible reunion entices Paul into considering a dinner invitation, but his hopes are dashed when he learns Mick is in a loving relationship with Spanish Jai alai player Tono Garat.
Paul still accepts the invitation, and Mick asks Paul to help Tono through the final revision of a love story he’s written, inspired by his affair with Mick. When Paul refuses, Mick reveals he’s been diagnosed with a fatal disease, and the novel is Tono’s only means of coping with the eventual outcome.
Paul and Tono resent each other, but they can’t deny the strong sexual attraction between them. Can the past blend with the present to ease the way for Mick’s inevitable future? Will they overcome their differences to provide the loving support necessary to sustain the man they love or will their collision destroy Mick’s final days?
Paul leads a privileged but lonely existence as a high powered editor and owner of a publishing company. He rejected and betrayed, Mick, the only man he ever loved, seven years previously and now he lives for his job and the luxurious lifestyle he maintains. When Mick contacts him out of the blue, Paul is excited to hear from him, but Mick doesn’t have good news. Not only is Mick in a loving and committed relationship with Spaniard Tono, he’s also dying from a degenerative disease.
Loving Edits was a rather different type of romance to many I’ve recently. It’s also a very brave romance, because one of the main characters is dying of a condition called ALS, which breaks down the muscles in the body. Often in the case of books where one character is going to die, we only get the point of view of the other characters. Not so in this book as the point of view is shared equally amongst the three men. This meant that Mick was so much more than just a tragic character, as we follow him through the difficulties of coping with the disease and see how it affects him both physically and emotionally. In many ways Mick is the most rounded character in the book, and certainly the most sympathetic. This was mostly because out of the three men he’s the more reasonable and perhaps optimistic, certainly at the beginning of the book, and I found it very affecting to see his struggles as the disease causes him to become emotional, depressed and suicidal – completely opposite to the man he is at the beginning of the book. Paul was the most difficult to like. At the beginning of this book Paul is not a very nice man. He’s spoiled, selfish, arrogant and cold, and I thought the author did a good job of showing the changes in him as the book progresses.
Another thing that worked about Paul was his reaction to Tono and the push/pull of their relationship. The scenes between them were filled with a mix of anger, jealousy and lust which provided a delicious tension. Both men are in love with Mick, and during the book their lives revolve around him and his needs. Whilst this showed a tender side to both men, it was the emotionally charged scenes of Paul and Tono together that I enjoyed most.
There were other things too that worked well, such as the secondary characters of Samuel, Mick’s physiotherapist, and Paul’s butler/majordomo, Baxter, who added greatly to the story. The way that ALS was portrayed was also done very well. There were a number of scenes where the three men discuss the disease, either together or with doctors, and I liked that there was no romanticising the condition, nor shying away from unpleasantness. Mick’s health is an important part of the book and really the driving force for the relationship between the men and so it is important that by the end of the book I knew all about the disease. I did sometimes find the scenes where the characters visit the doctor, or where Paul discusses ALS with Samuel, to be a little bit dry, like reading a medical leaflet on the disease, but I can’t honestly see how the author could have got the important information across in any other way.
The only other niggle I had with the story was that some of the dialogue between the characters felt a little ‘stagy’ at times. It took me a little while to understand why this was, because the content of what the characters were saying felt right for the situation. After a while, I realised it was because the characters often used each other’s names when talking to each other. Take this example between Mick and Samuel, all taken from the same conversation:
“Of course. Life needs to go on, Mick.”
“Let’s do it, Samuel. I’ve wanted to buy a new laptop anyhow, so I guess hurling it against the wall was sort of Freudian.”
“I can’t help it, Samuel. I hate being dependent on anyone.”
“Nobody likes it, Mick, but you’re still far from the stage you’re talking about. I would try and live each day at a time and not worry about an uncertain future. How long have you guys been together?”
“A little over six years.”
“That’s longer than a lot of marriages these days. If he were going to bail, he would have done it as soon as you were diagnosed.”
“He’s giving up so much for me, Samuel. I don’t want his life to turn to hell because mine has.”
“Has it occurred to you that the only thing he wants right now is to be with you? Whatever sacrifice you think he’s making is worth it to him, and isn’t it his choice to make? I don’t think you realize how much he loves you, mon. I see it in his eyes it’s a beautiful thing.”
“I love him so much, Samuel,” Mick said,
“The feeling is mutual, Mick. Now, whatever the argument was about, fix it, and get on with your life. You have much to live for.”
“Let’s start with getting you ready. I want you to be the hottest guy I’ve ever wheeled around.”
“Why, Samuel. You aren’t considering moving over to the dark side, are you?”
It seemed odd that they needed to refer to each other by name when they are the only two people in the room, and led to the slightly stilted feeling of some of the dialogue.
However, this was still a very moving book about the effect a terrible disease has on three men. Don’t worry though, this book isn’t at all maudlin or depressing, quite the opposite in that Mick’s sunny personality and optimistic nature counteract the bleaker parts of the book. If you’re looking for an interesting romantic drama, then I recommend that you read Loving Edits. I certainly enjoyed it.