Author: R.A. Padmos
Cover artist: n/a
Publisher: Manifold Press
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Buy link: Amazon.com
Length: 98500 words/320 pages
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: While the story starts with horrific violence, it is also one of the most romantic books I have ever read.
Steve Gavan and Daniël Borghart are professional soccer players for Kinbridge Town – and also secret lovers. All that changes, however, when Steve innocently wanders into a city park and falls victim to a vicious gang of queer-bashers who beat him within an inch of his life. After that there are no secrets any more – and it’s a very long road back, for both of them, from there…
Okay, first and foremost a warning — and I cannot stress it strongly enough — even though the blurb says it, the description of the hate crime, the beating that Steve suffers from is graphic and detailed, and very VERY painful to read. If this is triggering for you, STAY AWAY.
If however you can stomach several pages of violent horror, you will be amply rewarded by the whole book if you love pure beauty of romance. The story is basically Steve’s recovery from what was done to him as well as Steve and Dan realising what they truly meant to each other and adjusting and finding that they do want to spend the life together.
I also want to stress very strongly that the book is first and foremost a romance. If you prefer your books more plotty with the romance as secondary storyline, this will not be for you. I was actually a little surprised that I loved it so very much. Usually I want more plot in my books rather than concentrating mostly on the relationship, but once in a while a book like this one comes along and I just want to sigh happily and rejoice at the triumph of fighting human spirit and be glad that our heroes found each other.
One of the reasons I purchased this book was because I love football. No, not American football, the real one. 😉 That game Americans call soccer and what I grew up watching and loving and cheering up my home team on. It is by far my favorite sport in the whole world to watch, so I was wondering how much of the sport will be depicted on the pages of the book. I have to say not much. There is some of the atmosphere of professional football, but it is mostly in connection with Steve and Dan’s situation and how it unfolds. We get to see their love for the sport, the reactions of their teammates and true friendship between many of them, but there are no games which are described in great detail.
I loved watching how what happened to Steve forced these two to see what their real priorities were, and how Dan fought to help Steve to come back from the dead. Even if Steve’s body would never be one of a fit, healthy man because of the horrors they lived through, they have and support each other, and Dan being there made all the difference in the world. I enjoyed reading about their doubts and their fears and how their love kept winning over those doubts and fears, and how they achieved their happily ever after. It is a very hard earned happy ending, but it is truly happy.
The tension, the conflict in this book is for the guys to stay together, not to come back together after being driven apart. No, Steve has to come to terms that no matter how much damage and pain he suffered, Dan still wants him and loves him and does not want anybody else instead of him. Dan has to come to terms with how much their circumstances changed after Steve’s beating, and that despite his love, there is a long road to travel for Steve — and for Dan if he wants to be with Steve.
I keep wondering as I type this review whether this book could be considered too melodramatic and personally I just do not see it, although I am sure other readers may think that way. I am not sure what saved it for me from becoming too melodrama. Maybe because the writer did not keep throwing horror after horror on the guys and let them deal with the consequences of Steve’s trauma (which was severe in itself of course) and how it influenced their love. Maybe because she did not go for the tried and true “lets break them up” plot device, but instead let them dealt with their doubts and insecurities together? Maybe because the writing was itself so, so beautiful, and beautiful writing can save a lot for me. Maybe it was all the above. Let me give you a taste of the dialogue and I think it may help you decide whether dialogue itself is too melodramatic for you or not.
“One day, you will lie in my arms again and you will say my name. You have taught me that I’m much more patient that I ever thought. I guess you have taught me how to stop looking at the clock”
Very highly recommended.