If It Ain’t Love

Title: If It Ain’t Love
Author: Tamara Allen
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Gay Historical Romance
Length: Short story (34 PDF pages), 18000 words
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: Two lonely souls connect during the Great Depression in New York and I loved it so much.


In the darkest days of the Great Depression, New York Times reporter Whit Stoddard has lost the heart to do his job and lives a lonely hand-to-mouth existence with little hope of recovery, until he meets Peter, a man in even greater need of new hope.


This is one of those reviews where I have to start with a warning. Tamara Allen is one of those writers from whom I will buy books as soon as I see her name on the cover, so you may want to seek out more critical reviews if you would like to see a more balanced picture. However I can tell you this is a wonderful short story and since it is free, you have nothing to lose by trying it!

I have read and loved all three novels she has written, but I actually was a little worried despite the fact that I loved her long works so much. I mean, a short story is a different animal and I have been disappointed too often with short stories. I was so happy when I finished this one and started rereading it right away. The story is set during Great Depression in my home city New York and as always it is vividly drawn. You can actually imagine that you are travelling back in time when you are reading her stories and this one is no exception. I could feel the despair on the pages, people who lost their jobs, who have no place to stay and of course many who lost hope. One of the main characters, journalist Whit, may not have lost his job, but he lost something which is often just as important even if it is less tangible — hope. Fortunately during this short story the author shows us that Whit has not completely lost himself and that hope indeed can be found in the most unlikely places. When Whit meets Peter, he does not realize that Peter has lost something very important to him as well and is trying to find new reason for living while at the same time hold on to important traditions and memories.

This is a very quiet story, but emotions which we can feel from the protags are so very real, making both characters come so very alive on the pages. The connection between Whit and Peter is very fragile initially, but at the same time I could not help but believe in its strength. I am not a fan of Insta!Love in stories, but I do not think that what Tamara Allen does here can be called Insta!Love, perhaps Insta!Connection. I think she just shows that initial connection which may grow into something much stronger, and at the end of the story I definitely believed that it will. Maybe it is the fragility of the connection is what keeping it from venturing into that ridiculous over-the-top category of Insta!Love?

Whit swallowed and pushed away from the images Peter had conjured. “So why bring me home? You don’t know me either.”

“I’m not sure,” Peter whispered. “It felt, for a few minutes, like I did.”

Whit had to smile at that. “It did, didn’t it? Just a little”

I loved that the author got me to feel so much within such a short page count. I smiled, I shed a tear, I wanted the characters to heal and overcome the harsh circumstances they found themselves in. I loved that they still found it in themselves the desire to do good, to help other people and not just concentrate on their own problems. I mean, this story could have easily become either a load of angst or sugary-sweet. I did not find it to be either. While it is sweet, in my opinion it was a genuine, believable sweetness, something that makes you want to hug both men and cheer for them when you feel that they do have an inner strength if not to change the world, to at least try and to make it better for the few people around them. And while both Whit and Peter are nice guys, the writer gives us a glimpse of their flaws as well. Whit could be somewhat selfish, Peter could make rash decisions, but they are also capable of recognising their mistakes and to try to correct them.

I would call the ending a HFN, which for me suited perfectly to this story, but I absolutely believed that these two guys will stay together for a very long time, so much I was convinced by their understated quiet chemistry.

I think the best compliment I can pay to this story is that at the end of it I thought that I did not want to read a novel about Whit and Peter. I felt that I learned all I needed to know about them and they have a place in my heart already. It is one of the meatiest short stories I have ever read.

Highly recommended.



  • This is the first story I’ve read by this author and I loved it. There is a lot of story in 34 pages! I immediately bought Downtime and am a third of the way through it. What a terrific writer.

    • Laura, I am so glad you enjoyed it.I loved Downtime too, but Whistling in the Dark and The only gold are amazing IMO. I mean, I am a fan of her writing for sure, but to me being a fan simply means loving the books and if the next one will not be to my liking, I will certainly say so. The only readers I will not recommend her books too are readers who just dislike historicals, all historicals. Oh and if you want explicit sex in the stories. Everybody else IMO will love her books 🙂

  • Meant to come back in here sooner and comment….As with all of Tamara’s work I loved this one. I felt transported to the time and place that the book was set in and was completely comfortable with Whit and Peter’s HFN. Of course that does not mean I wouldn’t love to read a full length about what happens with them next…. 😉

    • Oh I am so glad you enjoyed this one Dianne. I know what you mean, I have not read any book by this writer that I did not love yet amd ending was just perfect for me as well.

  • Okay, yeah, I do not know where I got LULU in the first place. This is also available from Amazon for 0.99 and it says that the title is free at Smashwords, All romance and Good reads (where it links to all romance anyway). So Smashwords, not LULU, sorry guys.

  • Thanks for the review Sirius. This author is insta-buy for me too so I am glad I came here today and saw this short is available. It is now waiting for me on my Kindle for a quiet tea time read tomorrow morning 🙂

  • You immediately started rereading too? I absolutely adored this story, Sirius. It took me back to tales older relatives told me about the great depression. The author did a fantastic job of painting the bleak despair, standing me shoulder to shoulder with Whit as he traveled the streets of New York during a bygone era.

    Like you, I would happily read a novel about Whit and Peter, and believe I saw somewhere that a sequel is in the works. I certainly hope so.

    • I did Eden :). I agree that author did a fantastic job with this one, but I am very biased, I think she always does a fantastic job :). I would read the sequel with these two, but even if it stands alone, I am fine with it too, I did not feel as I often do after reading short story that this one would have benefitted from longer page count. Thanks for commenting.

      • Pushed it to the insta-read level 😆
        I was a bit afraid it was going to be too dark but I shouldn´t have. Once again a keeper from this author 😀
        Thank you again 😎

        • I am so glad Helena. I am always worried when I am writing reviews of the books by this writer (and several others) that I will sound as a squeeing fan girl (which I am lol). But I also feel that as long as I can explain my reasons for loving her works so much, it is no less valid review, you know? I just honestly want to share the joy which I feel when I read her books withe other readers.


Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: