A guest review by Sirius
Summary: What would have happened if guys from Brokeback Mountain managed to make it together and start a life together?
Jim Crane and Allen Prescott became lovers when they met as teenagers; in the years since they have carried on a furtive and secret affair, getting together only when time and their circumstances allowed. Jim has long wished to create a life with Allen but Allen has always refused. His ingrained belief that “people kill queers” has prevented him from recognizing and accepting his love for Jim. I’m Saying Yes opens when Jim, depressed and suicidal, gives Allen an ultimatum: choose me or else. After an agonizing night, Allen makes the decision to accept Jim’s offer, finally realizing that a life without his lover is a life not worth living.
I’m Saying Yes chronicles their first four months together as they begin their life as an openly gay couple, in a time-1976-and place-rural west Texas-where this was not the norm. They face challenges that range from simple: figuring out details of housekeeping, to sad: dealing with the death of Hal Lawrence, an older man who becomes a special friend and trusted confidante. It is a transformational time for both men but particularly Allen, who, over the course of the novel comes to accept his sexuality and ultimately, himself.
Jim and Allen have a few rocky moments but the story ends on a happy note because, as Allen says, when you believe in yourself and are guided by a strong and powerful love, anything is possible. Their deeply shared love and commitment to each is other is proof that that is true.
I was very intrigued by this story when I was reading a blurb, because while I have read some stories that deal with what happens after our heroes get together — their “Happy Ever After,” so to speak — there do not seem to be many of them. More often than not the guys getting together is the high point and the end of the story.
As the blurb tells us, Allen and Jim get together in the very beginning of the story — or I should say they get together permanently, since they have known each other for years, as well as being friends with benefits on and off during that time. What the blurb does not tell you is that basically the biggest conflict of the story — internal conflict, that is — happens within maybe the first ten or fifteen pages.
This review is two reads in the making. I had some issues after the first read that had my rating lower than what you see, but a re-read had an effect on me that sometimes happens in situations such as this: I liked the book a lot better.
I have to admit that the first read had me…bored. Despite the fact that the writing was good and there are nicely-written, appealing, realistically flawed protagonists, I was just a bit bored. I was disappointed because to me it this is one of the most unpleasant things an author can inflict upon the reader. I do not always require the high drama and action to be entertained, and I have enjoyed plenty of quiet and not-over-the-top stories, but even with these kinds of low-key books there was some sort of internal conflict present. In this one, the internal conflict is resolved when Allen realizes that he wants to be with Jim, that he is so much more than a fuck buddy to him, but as I mentioned before this happens very early in the story. The rest of the story is them trying to start building a life together. There were a couple of external obstacles, but to me it never caused any friction between them and they resolved those obstacles together. However because the writing was so good, I decided to re-read the story, which flowed easily and was not a chore to do.
I am glad I did, because this second reading was different for me and the rating improved significantly. While I still think that there is not enough for dramatic tension for my tastes in describing them finding a place to live, working out the relationships with former spouses and kids, and finally getting a place to stay and work and own their business, I think the likeable characters made me warm up to the overall story much more.
I also found the minor challenges of them adjusting to the small city where they are going to live — and the city adjusting to them — while not very exciting, very believable and I think actually quite realistic. I also really enjoyed Allen and Jim adjusting to each other, adjusting to the challenges of day to day living together, realizing that this is what they were meant to be in life. In fact, they have a very easy-going chemistry and every time they were together on page, I enjoyed them both a great deal, so to me it is definitely a sign that the guys had a connection. I also saw upon the re-read that indeed it is a transformational time for Allen, so even if there is no conflict between our heroes, he grows and changes as a character in response to whatever events they have to face. I really enjoyed that.