Title: Second Time Around
Author: Bobby Michaels
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M Paranormal, Shapeshifter
Length: Short Novel (122 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Cole
Review Summary: A sweet story about two men finding their way back to each other and all they would do not to be parted again.
David Stone returns to Star Harbor where he grew up to lick his wounds after finding out his lover of 10 years had been keeping a boy-toy on the side. His only real love, Josh Harrison, his childhood best friend, isn’t supposed to be in Star Harbor. He’s supposed to be in the Marine Corps.
But Josh has also returned to Star Harbor, and the Marine, now a cop, soon reveals that he’d been about to go looking for David, who mistakenly always thought Josh was straight! It’s not long before the two find themselves head over heels in love and heading toward happily ever after.
Then David learns he’s been infected with HIV by his last lover, and to save David’s life, Josh reveals his own secret: he’s a werewolf. And he can make David one.
I want to say, first off, that Bobby Michaels has been a favorite author of mine for a very long time. Back when I first started to read M/M, I used to read his archives on Nifty (seen here on his Yahoo Groups page), and then I fell in love with his Jock dorm series (reviewed by Lynn here : Dar and Gregg, Drew and Vince, and David and Connor). I decided recently to work my way through his other novels, which is how we end up here, with Second Time Around —
David is an antique dealer in San Fransisco, who upon finding another name on their car insurance, confronts his lover of ten years until he finds out the truth. Not only has his lover been cheating on him for months, but he’s also keeping the boy in a paid apartment and he has bought him a car. There is only one thing he can do — withdraw all their money, pack up, and move to his childhood home where he still keeps the house his parents left him after their tragic deaths. The good news is, his best friend from age five until their high school graduation, Josh, is away in the Marine Corp. Josh is the reason that David left Star Harbor in the first place. After having been in love with him for years, he can no longer allow himself to wish for something that will never happen — that his straight best friend will love him the way he does. Yet, at the grand opening of his new antique shop, who should walk in to say hello but Josh himself, having moved back the year before after his father’s death. Josh is a cop in Star Harbor, on the fast track to becoming Chief, and desperate to get his friend back. There are only two problems: David finds out that his ex-lover’s boyfriend has infected them both with HIV and Josh is a werewolf. If they come together, though, and David can allow it, Josh has the cure and it will allow them to stay together for many years to come.
This is a pretty typical romance, except with a few added elements that Bobby Michaels is famous for — namely the sex. For those of you who have never read a book by him, the sex tends to be very raunchy, with lots of smells, rimming, sniffing, licking. He likes to get pretty dirty with his characters. I was used to this and expecting it, and I was therefore surprised that the sex in here was quite a bit tamer. The sex is still incredibly hot, but its much more sweet and loving (though there are a few times…). Also, this story deals with a very serious topic, that of HIV. Because his prose is very different (sometimes even stilted and instructional about specific topics) I didn’t expect this story to be angsty at all, though the topic might lead you to believe it would. With a lot of authors, it would. Somehow, though, David and Josh find ways to endure this with humor and grace, which I suspect is due in part to the fact that Bobby Michaels has himself come out as HIV+. I can’t speak as a woman, but as a gay man I can tell you that even thinking about this topic terrifies me. Seeing it here, in a different light, made me very happy. I know that its not real life, that a werewolf could take away this crushing disease from those who have it, but it makes me wish it was. It makes it a bit more bearable to think that there is something to be done other than fight a long fight with uncertainty. That is the epitome of fantasy for me — that for an hour or two or three, I can be taken outside of my mind and body and visit a place that might be better, or even just a little different than mine.
I loved this story, just as I have loved his other books. I especially adored Pete and Rich, the young lovers David hired to help run his shop. However, Bobby Michaels is not for everyone, people tend to love his writing or hate it. If you are a fan of his work, this will definitely appeal to you, although it may be slightly different than others you have read. If you haven’t read anything by him, you might want to check out some of his work online, which I put a link to above. Though, be warned, the stuff he has posted on Nifty and such is a LOT dirtier and raunchier than his published stuff. There might be some scenes there that offend some readers (things like golden showers, etc.). This was a delight for me to read. Highly recommended.