A guest review by Sirius
Summary: An enjoyable gay romance from earlier times.
Ford McKinney is a devastatingly handsome, successful doctor, raised in an old Savannah family among good breeding and money. His longtime boyfriend, Dan Krell, is a shy hospital administrator with a painful childhood past. When the holidays arrive, they decide it’s time to go home together. But the depth of their commitment is tested when Ford’s parents cannot reconcile themselves to their son’s choices, and Dan’s secrets are exposed. Comfort and Joy is a poetic and finely-wrought novel that explores the difficult journey two men make toward love.
A friend introduced me to this book a little over a year ago as an example of a romance which was written before the explosion of the m/m genre. I really enjoyed it a year ago, and rereading it now with a fresh eye, I still enjoy it, but I do see how it may not be to everybody’s taste. I did not think that characters are written that badly either. I thought that it was more of “us against the world” type of story, thus the only internal conflict between the guys is not even a conflict but some tension because of Dan’s condition, which I personally find extremely believable. Ford and Dan may sometimes be a little scared to be together with each other, no matter how much they love each other, but my impression was that they are ten times more scared to be apart from each other. I found it to be very poignant. I am not sure if Ford’s being scared of coming out to his parents and Dan’s wanting him to do so faster counts as conflict either, or maybe it was, just not something they would consider serious enough to have anything but a disagreeing conversation about.
I thought that Jim Grimsley wrote a lyrical and poetic story, and I decided that he managed to show the protagonists dealing with very realistic everyday problems together rather than apart and I enjoyed it. Note: apparently Grimsley wrote about Dan’s painful childhood in Winter Birds, but I have not worked up the courage to read it yet.
When I think about it, maybe part of the reason why this story may not be to everybody’s taste is because we have read so many stories where the theme of coming out to the parents is explored. Some readers may find it repetitive, however I am someone who has read it a lot even since I read this book a year ago and for me it still stands out from the crowd.
Unfortunately since I read this book way before I started writing reviews for this site, I did not feel a need to avoid reading Amazon reviews — as I normally do — and I cannot pass up addressing one of the criticisms I found there. I found the criticism that Grimsley had a nerve to write a romance where a handsome doctor finds love with somebody below his social status in many ways to be quite silly. Yes, it may be less likely to happen in real life, but it is quite likely to happen in romance fiction.
The criticism I can offer myself is that Danny is probably a bit too perfect and saintly, however personally I was still able to love his character and be happy for him. I think it is because I found the writing to be so beautiful. Opinions may differ on this one of course. I also did not think that most of the secondary characters, except probably Dan’s mother were well developed.
A bit of bad news: this book is out of print and not available on Kindle, but the good news is you can still get the paperback on Amazon rather cheaply.
Highly recommended. If you guys will find that this book and this author is something you will enjoy reading, I highly recommend Dreamboy as another book of his I loved a lot.