Anything For You


Title: Anything For You
Author: Ethan Day
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 33K Words, 110 PDF pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

** This review and some of the comments contain what could be considered as spoilers**

Review Summary: The writing more than anything won me over, even though I didn’t love the characters.

THE BLURB

Jason Miller is still in the closet. He’s never found a reason to kick the door open, walk into the light of day, and tell the world he’s gay. At least that’s what he keeps telling himself — along with a multitude of other solid arguments. As an ad man, he’s used to hawking a bill of goods, he just never imagined he’d fall victim to his own hype.

When ex-activist/coming out guru, Chad Wellington came along, he was the one thing Jason never saw coming. Like a moth to a flame these two opposites ignite leaving Jason to decide if he can handle the heat.

THE REVIEW

This story changed my perception of Ethan Day as a writer. I always loved his books which are laugh out loud funny and they are all comfort reads for me, but Anything for You showed that he is capable of much more than a funny script, warm lovable characters, laugh out loud lines (although the lines were still there), and a great finish. 

Jason blamed everyone but himself  for his unhappy life, something that was his own fault since he stubbornly remained in the closet all his adult life. He felt that his family, his work associates, his friends, even random people on the street were all responsible for his unhappiness, and he refused to acknowledge that hiding his sexual orientation was the major reason for his screwed-up life. Could he be more delusional? His appearance of “complete and total butchness,” was a smokescreen since all his friends were gay, but he had to maintain the illusion to others that he was straight because he lived in fear of being exposed for who he was. He lied to everyone outside of his gay friends, either deliberately or by omission, about his sexual orientation and then wondered why they couldn’t accept him for who he was. Eventually the stress of always being ‘on,’ remembering his lines, maintaining his public persona and cues i.e. saying “she” rather than “he” when asked about his love life, etc., began to take its toll, as the lying became harder after 10 years of living in two worlds.

Jason was now so embittered that his unhappiness was affecting how he treated others. The people who felt most of the impact that his dysfunctional life was having on his personality were those closest to him – his lesbian sister Annie and his best friend Brent.  Annie was in a relationship and Brent had found the man of his dreams, but instead of being happy for them Jason became even more bitter and it showed in his behaviour, even though he loved them. Living such a huge lie 24/7 had changed who he was and made him into a bitchy drama queen who wanted to get back at his friends and loved ones and make them just as miserable as he was. Then he met Chad.

Chad was the complete opposite to Jason. He lived his life out in the open and refused to stay in anyone’s closet. He was coordinator for a National coming out program in Washington D.C and had until recently been in love with a closeted politician, but his lover dumped him when rumours circulated about the affair and he was politely given the boot from his job as well. Talk about two body blows at the same time. Chad left Washington and returned to Missouri to lick his wounds and start over and when he saw a picture of Jason at Brent’s apartment he fell for him. Brent arranged for a blind date weekend at Chad’s request, at another couple’s country home, and when Jason met him it was all systems go. But of course there were many challenges to a relationship between them, especially Jason’s aversion to being ‘out’ in public as Chad’s lover. Meeting Chad’s parents who disapproved of his lifestyle and his gay lover was a huge milestone, and having dinner with the ‘rents was a not to be missed experience. That was when I felt perhaps  Jason was redeemable, as he stood up for his man, and I really started liking him.

As I mentioned earlier in this review, I didn’t find Jason a likeable character by any stretch of  the imagination, and it wasn’t until I was half way into the book that I began to warm up to him, as I started to understand his struggle to be true to who he was, a gay man. He hated the person he had become and this was what made him bitter towards life in general, and those close to him in particular. Being envious of Brent’s and Annie’s happiness led to him internalizing his feelings of jealousy and then lashing out, but he wasn’t a bad person, he was just stuck in a place where he couldn’t figure a way out without exposing himself, something he had spent a decade hiding from everyone but his gay friends and lovers. He realized what a bonehead he had become and that he was in danger of losing everyone if he didn’t change; that was something in his favour, and in his defense, he felt that everyone had deserted him when they moved on and he had no one. When Chad came into his life he knew what it would take to keep him, yet again he didn’t have the courage and insight to do what was painfully obvious to everyone else. 

What about his new love Chad who seemed too good to be true? In a way he was. Chad, who at first was tolerant of Jason’s desire to remain in the closet, embarrassed him publicly, so he wasn’t as nice as he appeared to be – quite the opposite. I had wondered about Chad and how long he would stay with a man who refused to come out, and he proved that he could be just as manipulative and devious when it suited him. He also made it clear to Jason, without words, that if he didn’t change soon it was goodbye, so he knew when and how to apply the right kind of pressure to get what he wanted. He was another complex and well drawn character.

With two such protagonists it’s no wonder that I felt as if I was standing on a precipice waiting to see who would fall over the edge first. Luckily the characters evolved before they became unredeemable, despite all the personal baggage, but it was touch and go for a while. I thought that Jason’s growth was enormous considering where he started and how far he came.  He learned what was really important, that loving someone trumped the pain of exposing your underbelly, your fears, and being vulnerable. This book is definitely not the usual romantic comedy that I’m accustomed to from Ethan Day because the characters were atypical. If it weren’t for his trademark humour which was delivered with a much sharper blade, I might have wondered if he had a ghost writer for some parts of the story and his protagonist Jason.

I think it took a lot of courage on Ethan Day’s part to write such complex flawed protagonists. I’m sure he realized that many of his fans might not appreciate Jason, because although the humour was there in spades it was not the usual self deprecating, warm and fuzzy kind. Instead the author directed his rapier like thrusts at his characters whom he normally treated with love, even if he gently poked fun of them. When I first read this story I felt as if he was having fun at the readers’ expense and that all of a sudden he would come out of his closet, 🙂  yell “boo,” and give us a different book with new characters. Then I realized how clever he was because he demonstrated considerable growth as a writer in terms of his skill to turn the story and the characters around on a dime. You may not like Anything For You when you first start reading it, but it’s well worth the angst to experience Jason’s journey from self loathing to self actualization, although you might want to kick the rat bastard many times and tell him to stop blaming everyone for the mess he had made of his life. As for Chad, I  still don’t get the rationale of why he would want to be with someone like Jason since he knew going in that he was in the closet, the same reason why his previous affair had broken up. However, clearly I’m not a writer so what do I know? 🙂  I almost forgot – the sex was everything I expect from this author – hot, sensual, intense and kickass. Also, Annie was inspired although over the top like many of Ethan’s characters, but she, too, was not a fave!

This was one of the most difficult books for me to rate but I think I got it right …. maybe. I wavered back and forth before finally deciding (I might still change my mind) 🙂 but the writing won me over.

Whoever said that nothing good comes easy was right.

Highly recommended.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

47 comments

  • Wave, this is a brilliant review. When I first read AfY, I realized I was about 45% through and still hadn’t totally fallen for either of the guys, that I was actually feeling a bit unsettled by the book. Eventually, it all fell into place for me and I ended up loving the book, but it took reading your review to understand where my agitation came from.

    Regarding Chad’s ugly outing of Jason, I wanted to punch the smug bastard in the face and I was more than a little surprised Jason didn’t. I really don’t think he groveled for forgiveness nearly enough.

    Did you mention the sofa scene? Dear gawd. Ethan and sofas should…I dunno, come with a warning or something *groans* Get your minds out of the gutter! You know what I meant!

    Reply
    • Buda

      You know how I felt originally about this book because I thought it was me i.e. the dislike for the characters and then the book. It wasn’t until I emailed Tj and you an talked to a friend here who actually is in the closet and spoke to him about the book, that I understood what being on the down low can do to someone’s self esteem and ultimately how it changes them.

      Then I re-read the book and saw what Ethan was trying to do with this story. I realized then that it was not supposed to be like the other stories he has written, but a much deeper look at the life of a gay man looking at it from a realistic lens rather than through the rose coloured glasses of romance.

      Like you I couldn’t respect Chad for what he did to Jason at the GBLT center. I thought it was the ultimate humiliation, regardless of the fact that it was a “friendly” audience and that he might have thought it was time for Jason to come out. That was not his decision. No one likes to be exposed to friend or foe. So while i have a great deal of respect now for Jason, the jury is still out on Chad.

      I’m happy you think I did a good job on the review but it was a lot of people – and you’re included in that lot – who made me re-read the book, and that changed my perspective. This is not a book that will be a comfort read in the future, but for me it definitely showed a change of direction in Ethan’s writing to more hard hitting stories. The next “Ethan” book someone else will have to review – this is too much like work.

      Yes that sofa scene was something else. :sex4: Unfortunately I ran out of words by then. 😆

      Reply
    • I don’t know what to say about the sofa thing, Buda…must be those 3 years of interior design I had, before switching my major to creative writing. : ) Must be my way of combining all my interests, lol.

      Reply
  • Wow…thank you for the wonderfully well thought out review Wave! Though I feel a little bad for making you work so hard, I’m impressed and in awe of the time and attention you gave this book. I’m not sure I deserved it but I feel certain you’ll make me pay for stressing you out at some point. : )

    I was aware that there would be people who wouldn’t like Jason and as a result wouldn’t enjoy the book. I certainly never set out to write anything controversial, but as you and TJ mentioned, I’ve known a lot of closeted guys over the last 20 years, many of whom have had an ‘acidic’ personality. Obviously some people are just that way naturally – nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy. : ) But some were just nice guys who were, from my own perceptions, a little poisoned by the fact they were unable or unwilling to come out of the closet. This made them NOT the most positive people to be around. This type of guy was the inspiration for Jason and the book was the result of what I imagined a romantic comedy would result in for this type of character.

    I also had trouble loving Jason throughout much of the first third of the book. I liked him and found his snarky comments to be funny but I didn’t LOVE him. For me, it was that dinner with Chad’s parents, when Jason does the first truly unselfish thing since meeting Chad that I was able to really get into his corner. Jason’s the type of guy who fucks up consistently on a daily basis only to turn around and pull out the grand gesture. I felt that had a lot to do with his own inexperience when it came to having never had a mature relationship. It’s almost like having sex for the first time – usually pretty clumsy cause you have no clue what the hell your doing, lol.

    I’m not a proponent of outing people, but I didn’t really find Chad’s actions all that shocking when taking into consideration where they were. Considering Jason was somewhat ‘out’ in the local gay community I didn’t find it to be as bad as if he’d done it around the table during Thanksgiving dinner. They were in the gay and lesbian community center, so for me it was almost like doing it in a gay bar. The fact that you’re there in the first place would already lend most people toward the assumption you might be gay. I don’t think Chad would have done what he did in a different arena. I think it was Chad’s way of testing the limits. I think people do that to one another a lot – instead of having a conversation about it we push at one another’s boundaries as if to test what we can and can’t get away with, lol. But that’s just the way it felt to me when I was writing it. I understand and respect that we all see things in different ways, which is what makes the world such an interesting place!

    Reply
    • Hi Ethan

      I feel certain you’ll make me pay for stressing you out at some point. : )

      You have that right, and in spades. 🙂

      But some were just nice guys who were, from my own perceptions, a little poisoned by the fact they were unable or unwilling to come out of the closet. This made them NOT the most positive people to be around. This type of guy was the inspiration for Jason and the book was the result of what I imagined a romantic comedy would result in for this type of character

      This was a really difficult book for me to review and rate. As you mentioned, first I had to understand what being in the closet could do to someone’s psyche (you have an advantage over me there) so I talked to Tj at length and he was very helpful (no he’s not in the closet – he just knows people who are). 😎 I also talked to Buda about the whole closet thing, who was happy that I was the one reviewing Anything For You and not him, and he was waiting for me to fall on my sword. 😀

      After reading the book the second time I got it so the review was easier than I expected, but I still was up until the early hours of the morning writing it because I wanted to do justice to the book without minimizing my concerns about those aspects I mentioned.

      Re Chad outing Jason, my shock was at Jason’s reaction because clearly he wasn’t expecting it so I felt for him and thought that Chad was a jerk to do so without warning.

      I don’t think Chad would have done what he did in a different arena. I think it was Chad’s way of testing the limits. I think people do that to one another a lot

      I do understand your point about Chad choosing his location, but I still didn’t love the way it was done. Also I didn’t feel that Jason would have been okay with how it was done. But that’s just me. (I’m talking about these fricking characters as if they are real people, that’s how good a writer you are Ethan).

      Thank you Ethan for writing a book that was quite a departure for you and it really demonstrated to me how far you have come as a writer. There will be readers on either side of this book, some loving and others hating the characters but to me you did a great job and killed it.

      Reply
      • “Also I didn’t feel that Jason would have been okay with how it was done.”

        I agree with you here, and again had it been at any other point in their relationship I think the proverbial shit would have hit the fan, so to speak. But I really felt like Jason had been so completely put through the ringer due to his shenanigans at his job earlier in the day. That combined with his own feelings of guilt, the stress of the dinner with his friends the night before…I just kept thinking, this poor dude has to be so completely beaten down would he even have the energy to argue at this point?

        I guess I kind of saw it as him surrendering to the inevitable. But I can see where you’re coming from as well. We all perceive things in different ways and there are a few areas where I could have helped things along by adding just a tiny bit more exposition.

        I really am fascinated by all these comments though. It never ceases to amaze me the different things each individual can glean from the same book.

        Again, I hope no one feels like I’m attempting to justify anything about the book. I totally respect all the different opinions and I’m most definitely NOT trying to tell anyone they were wrong for feeling what they did after reading the book. I’m flattered you read it to begin with, lol. So, thank you!! : )

        Reply
        • Hi Ethan

          I think in my own mind Chad is a little self destructive which is what has him going after Jason to begin with. I also think Chad is a little controlling which I tried to show in the sex scenes – that despite being the bottom most of the time Chad enjoyed twisting Jason up into massive ball of boy-goo. : ) I also felt that aspect of Chad’s personality led to the initial attraction for Chad. Despite losing everything due to his DC relationship, which blew up in his face, this was initially maybe Chad trying to prove to himself that he wasn’t wrong in DC. This time he’d show everyone he was nobody’s fool.

          Okay now I understand the pairing and this makes sense. Thanks for explaining your thought processes. (Not that you had to but it was really gracious of you to do so Ethan).

          Regarding Jason’s reaction to being outed

          I just kept thinking, this poor dude has to be so completely beaten down would he even have the energy to argue at this point?

          The way you explain it does make sense in a strange way. 🙂 I just thought it wasn’t logical for him to sit there, having spent 10 years living on the down low. To have this happen would have been the ultimate humiliation.

          I know that you’re not trying to justify anything in the book Ethan, and I appreciate your explanation of what was going through your head as you were writing the story. We all think that others can read our minds and understand perfectly what our intentions are, until there’s a question.

          I do appreciate you taking the time to discuss here some of the things that bothered me about the book. 😎

          For your next book could you please go easy on me or whoever is going to review it. 😆

          Reply
  • Thanks Wave. Looking forward to Ethan’s writing (as usual)- even more so after reading your very intriguing review.

    Reply
  • Haven´t read it yet but I will soon since it´s a must for me ^^
    Thank you very much for the review, it´s always useful and a pleasure to read them even if I got a clear idea about buying the book 😎

    Reply
  • Thanks Wave, masterclass in how to write a difficult review!

    I too am impressed and so pleased when writers push their boundaries.I have just read yet another one with same characters but different names. So thanks Ethan, I look forward to giving this a try.

    Reply
    • Hi Raine
      thanks for the nice words. It was a difficult review to write but I’ll make Ethan pay, never fear. 😀

      I hope yiou like the book now that you know what to expect.

      Reply
  • I’ve had this for a few days and I really need to take a day out to read it! I love Ethan’s writing just like everyone else and I’m very happy to hear that he’s growing — I would hate to see him keep pumping out the same books, no matter how funny they are and how much we love them, simply because that’s what his fans like. I admire a writer who has the guts to work on craft above everything else — I think you talked about that very well. What better way to do that then with characters?

    It seems to me from your review and the comments that I will probably have less of a problem with these characters than most people, though I can’t say completely since I haven’t read it yet. I’ll come back and let you know tomorrow 🙂

    This was a great review Wave — very thoughtful and you made your point very well.

    Reply
    • Hi Cole

      You have the advantage of knowing what to expect, having read the review so you will enjoy the book I’m sure. However at first i was more than a little surprised at Jason’s characterization, and as I said, it wasn’t until I was half way into the book before I warmed up to him.

      Sometimes I write better reviews than others. 😕

      Reply
  • I really liked this story a lot. It totally made sense to me that Chad and Jason were together – they liked each other and people put up with a lot when they like/lust/love someone. That’s not to say the status quo would be acceptable long term. What happened at the GLBT event was so not cool, but I guess in Chad’s mind it was tough love and something had to give. Staying in the closet was really not an option any longer.

    Anyway, I thought the story was very funny, very sad in some ways and a fab read. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Luci
      Thanks for commenting.

      This was definitely a different kind of book from Ethan, and as I said in the review it showed how much he has grown as a writer.

      I was surprised that Chad would want to be with Jason after what had happened to him such a short while before, under the same circumstances. If it weren’t for that bit of information the pairing would have made complete sense to me.

      As for Chad outing Jason, I thought that was a really reprehensible thing for him to do, especially since it was in public.

      I would definitely agree that it was a fab read and really sad in some ways.

      Reply
      • That whole scene bothered me. Jason forgave so easily. Really!! Being outed and having his life used as a negative example. Could you love me a little less next time?

        Reply
        • Luci

          One of the reasons why I didn’t rate the book higher was because of the scene in the GBLT centre and Jason’s reaction to being outed, which didn’t ring true. Also I still don’t understand the pairing, given what Chad had been through just a short while before.

          Outside of those two seemingly incomprehensible events I did ‘get’ what Ethan was after in this book and I applaud him for it.

          Reply
        • I think Ethan and Chad viewed this as tough love. LOL

          I’d be interested in your reaction to this book after you have fully digested it. 😮

          Reply
  • Wowee Wave! Color me very impressed! You nailed this book perfectly. I had the same experience while reading and I was still thinking about Jason’s character days after I finished the book.

    I thought that Ethan really captured how bitter many closeted gay men can feel. Actually I’ve also known bitter straight people who lashed out at everyone because they were unhappy with their lives. So this is a universal experience.

    Reply
    • Thanks Teej

      It took me well into the early hours of this morning to finish this review because it was important for me, as a reviewer, to get it right in my own mind. There’s much more I would have liked to say but it was one of my longest reviews already.

      You’ll remember I emailed you when I first read this book, saying in effect, “what the f..k was that missile that Ethan just shot across our bow?” 😯 Then I read it a second time and it really jelled as I realized what he was trying to do with his characters and this story.

      I never recognized until now how much being in the closet sours some gay men on life until you explained some of it to me. Of course there are many gay men who will tell you that they are quite happy with their closeted lives, and how dare anyone say anything different.

      You are of course correct about straight people who are equally bitter and lash out at everyone because their lives didn’t turn out the way they expected.

      Reply
  • Yeah, I didn’t particularly cared for Jason. But, then again, I didn’t cared much for any of the characters, including Jason’s sister and his friends (part of Valium episode was extremely funny, but also disturbing). I liked Chad at first and understood his wish for Jason to come out (especially in the light of his previous bad experience), but the event at GLBT center changed that completely. You just don’t do that, no matter what your intentions are. I also didn’t understand what made these two care for each other beside great sex.

    I always appreciated Ethan’s humor and there was a lot of it here too. The writing was good, but that is hardly a surprise. It also takes great courage to write about characters like these. It’s always great to see how our favorite writers evolve and branch. This story didn’t work for me completely, but that is only me. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi LadyM

      I completely understand your perspective. When I read this book the first time I hated Jason even though I admired his growth, but I liked Chad even less – he was too much of a goody two shoes. I didn’t appreciate what happened when he outed Jason. No matter how much he wanted Jason to do the right thing that was the entirely worst way to make him do so.

      I think I mentioned in the review the difficulty I had with the protagonists, but I had to give props to Ethan’s writing by rating the book 4.5 stars. I’m in the minority BTW because I just noticed a lot of 5 stars on Goodreads a few minutes ago.

      Reply
    • Hi Lady M! Thanks for reading the book and for your comments. I think I addressed some of the issues you had below, at least with regard to my intentions, but one I just picked up that Wave also mentioned was what brought these two together.

      From my own perspective on this front I’m not really sure I ever spelled out any reasoning in the book other than their mutual admiration for one another. But I think that’s where it begins for most people – that chemical reaction that makes you sit up and take notice. I think in my own mind Chad is a little self destructive which is what has him going after Jason to begin with. I also think Chad is a little controlling which I tried to show in the sex scenes – that despite being the bottom most of the time Chad enjoyed twisting Jason up into massive ball of boy-goo. : ) I also felt that aspect of Chad’s personality led to the initial attraction for Chad. Despite losing everything due to his DC relationship, which blew up in his face, this was initially maybe Chad trying to prove to himself that he wasn’t wrong in DC. This time he’d show everyone he was nobody’s fool.

      I do think they both found the same things funny. In my experience being able to laugh together can heal a multitude of wounds, lol. They also each shared a similar work ethic and I tried to show how comfortable they were when in one another’s company.

      I think Jason simply fell into another situation of being pursued by a guy – but this time he fell in love. The fact Jason was so desperate not to lose Chad that he was willing to slowly alter his life was my way of showing it was real.

      In hindsight, maybe I could have done a better job of painting that picture in the book, though. Thanks to you both for pointing that out to me. : )

      Reply
      • Hey, Ethan, thank you for the response. You know, I just might do what Wave did and read the story again (and not just because of the sofa scene :lol:). Maybe, that will give me a slightly different perspective. Or, maybe, you just spoiled me with all those earlier characters who were all sweethearts and starry-eyed even when they were bitches. :DX:

        Reply
        • “who were all sweethearts and starry-eyed even when they were bitches”

          You picked up on that I see, LOL! Thanks LadyM. I promise to bring you more sweetness and bite in the future. : )

          Reply
    • Hi Minnie
      Complex is not the word. 😀

      I hope you like it. I have now read this book 3 times and I have grown to like the characters even more as I understand them better.

      Reply

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