Title: Stage Whispers
Author: Adam Fitzroy
Publisher: Manifold Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Length: 528 PDF pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: What does it mean to be an actor and could you stay in the relationship if you are heading for stardom? This subtly written book was an enjoyable one to read, but also made me tired.
Meet jobbing actor Jonathan Stapleton – failed husband, slightly better father, with no ambition and in his own eyes only a modicum of acting ability; he doesn’t need complications in his life, but that’s exactly what he gets with Callum Henley – younger, talented, exasperatingly impulsive, and for some reason completely crazy about him. How can they hope to succeed as a couple when one is heading for fame and fortune at the very top of his profession … and the other one prefers to stay at home
This review was so far the hardest review to write for the site ever, but after keeping this book since May (yes you heard me correctly since May) I decided that a short review is better than no review at all. This book is a perfect example of character-driven plot in my opinion. Jon and Callum are two of the most interesting, multi-layered characters I have “met” in gay romances so far. Their personalities facilitate the changes in their relationship; literally, change happens because of who those guys are first and not because of some external event. What they both want from life and from each other causes that change, who they are as “people” causes that change. It is very interesting and rewarding to read, it is also sometimes a little tedious to read.
They are also actors, even though as the blurb tells us only one of them is heading for stardom, and the theater is in a sense another character in this book. It is not a play, but it has the framework of the play to a degree. The chapters are called scenes and in the beginning of each scenes writer gives you a brief description of the scene. I did not mind that, and it kept me remembering that being actors sometimes dives into their real lives too, especially for Callum. But them suddenly quoting famous writers and poets in the middle of conversation I did mind, and eventually I minded that a lot. While I am sure there is a reason for it — I am sure the writer wanted to add layers to their personalities by doing so and I guess to show that being actors is not just their profession — but I think it is possible to draw the characters as rich and distinct personalities without asking for help from the classics. I think the author quite succeeded on his own.
The relationship is richly drawn, the characters evolve a lot and are very delicately and subtly drawn:
“The jump to defensive blokishness was typical of Callum; it was like him indeed to follow up a moment of vulnerability with a bit of macho pantomime”.
The characters evolve not only in their relationship with each other, but also with some secondary characters. I enjoyed it a great deal, I however wished more than once for some sort of external factor to happen in their lives prior to them causing it to happen. Believe me, it is a very rare thing for me to wish for that, since I usually want for the mix of character-driven and action-driven plot. I also want the character-driven part to prevail, but this book showed me that I should be careful what wish for and there is such thing as too much of a good thing sometimes.