Title: How to Keep the Love of Your Life (After Mistaking Him for a Serial Killer)
Author: Maureen Willmann
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link How to Keep the Love of Your Life (After Mistaking Him for a Serial Killer)
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 92 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
An entertaining start but a clingy hero and insta-love plot wasn’t really my thing.
Randy’s experience with obsessive ex-boyfriends has made him more than a little bit paranoid. But when his paranoia gets the best of him and he mistakes his eccentric (and eccentrically cute) neighbor for a serial killer, Randy has a lot of making up to do if he wants poor Dave to forgive him.
And even if Dave can get over the indignity of being a serial killer in Randy’s imagination, he’s got problems of his own that make their budding relationship less and less likely. Still, Randy is undaunted—if they can overcome meddling friends, scary stalker exes, and the INS, Dave might just be the love of his life!
If you haven’t already guessed, it was the title that drew me to this book. It’s certainly catchy! I’ve not read anything by this author but the title intrigued me enough that I decided to give the book a go. In the end, I found it to be a decent read with a few little niggles that kept it firmly into the three stars.
The story begins when Randy is coming home from work. He sees this weird looking guy who appears to be following him and mistakenly thinks he’s stalking Randy and going to attack him. It turns out that the guy is his neighbour, Dave, who’s a graduate student from New Zealand. Niggle number one was my slight disbelief that Randy and Dave had been living next to each other for months but have never met before and yet suddenly they meet in the hallway all the time. Randy’s slightly interfering female friend (all gay men have these, apparently) bullies Randy into coming to a party with her that evening. The party is at Dave’s and the two men have a slightly awkward time together involving lots of booze and falling asleep on Dave’s bed. After that less that satisfying start, coupled with yet another drunken incident where Dave finds Randy almost passed out on the hall floor, the two men start dating, but there’s a lot of obstacles in the way to true love.
There was lots to like about this book. Firstly I really liked Randy at the beginning of the book. He’s slightly neurotic with an endearing love of his fish and an odd job – he melts wine bottles to make things like cheese boards. His job means that he has to drink a lot of wine, but it’s also quite lonely. At first, I thought his reaction to Dave following him was a bit over-the-top but when we discover that Randy has been forced to move on several occasions because an ex-boyfriend has been stalking him, his nervousness seems more realistic. The way that the two men meet was cutely done and Dave’s bewilderment at Randy’s behaviour, coupled with a protective streak was a nice touch to the characterisation. I also liked that Dave was a bit shy and unsure of himself, but Randy was able to overcome that nicely and the sex scenes were sweetly done.
Another part I liked was the narrative voice of Randy. Much of the story is amusing, with a lightness of tone which suited the sometimes farcical events which happen. I get the impression that isn’t a story to be taken too seriously but that’s never an excuse for unrealistic scenarios and there were a few more niggles to go along with the things I liked.
What didn’t work for me was the reappearance of Randy’s ex, or rather Randy’s acceptance of his ex’s behaviour. Everly breaks into Randy’s apartment and sets out to come between Randy and Dave. Randy had taken out a restraining order against Everly and when it transpires that the order had expired, he just allows Everly to come back into his life. This seemed totally unrealistic behaviour from Randy who surely should have had the order renewed straight away. Instead he half-heartedly tries to send Everly away.
Another part that didn’t work was in the way that Randy suddenly turns into a mess of clingyness when he discovers that Dave’s visa is due to expire. They barely know each other but Randy claims to have fallen in love. The scene at the airport was, I think, supposed to be amusing but I was amazed at Randy’s behaviour, as he sobbed on Dave’s shoulder, after only knowing Dave for a very short time. Perhaps if Randy had been seeing Dave for a few months, his behaviour might have been appropriate but not on such a short acquaintance. If I had been Dave I wouldn’t have been able to get on that plane fast enough!
So overall, whilst I liked the initial set-up and the way the men met, the development of Randy’s character just didn’t work too well for me. He began as a slightly neurotic and lonely guy and ended up bordering on the creepy with his overdependence on Dave. Other readers may find this aspect more amusing than I did and will therefore enjoy the story a lot more. I liked the author’s voice and writing though, so I’ll happily look for more books from her in future.