Title: Choices (The Looking Glass #1)
Author: Penny Brandon
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M contemporary paranormal romance
Length: Short Novel
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary Review: An interesting concept and some good writing made this an interesting read but not without flaws.
Marc’s straight, always has been and thought he always would be, but when he’s shown his true love in a magic mirror he’s shocked to find out his true love is a man. Not only that, it’s up to him to convince his true love they’re meant to be together. All bad enough, but after finding Liam, the only way he’s able to persuade Liam to go out with him is to offer him sex – even though that’s something Marc’s definitely not ready for.
Liam thinks Marc is crazy. Marc’s straight but he’s talking about true love and making a life together. Liam doesn’t believe in love and he certainly isn’t going to fall in love with a crazy straight guy regardless of how sexy he is. But he hasn’t reckoned on Marc’s pushy attitude or his offer of sex which, no matter how much he knows he should, Liam can’t turn down.
The Looking Glass Series
Marc is bewildered when he finds himself in Simon’s antique shop. He’s been drawn there for some reason but isn’t sure what. Simon knows though and shows Marc a magic mirror which gives him the image of his true love. Marc is shocked to discover that the image is of a man, especially as he is straight and never felt any attraction to men before. After some debate, Marc is determined to find this mystery man and see whether the mirror is right or not.
Choices is labelled a paranormal romance but really the only paranormal aspect is that of the mirror and that is over with in the first chapter. The story follows a ‘gay for you’ plot with Marc at first coming to terms with the fact that his true love is gay and then pursuing Liam. This is not the first book I’ve read with this theme of a man being told your true love is another man, but I liked the idea enough that I thought another book with a similar theme would be a fun read. Once the mirror scene is out of the way the story retains a fully contemporary story, except that Marc has to convince Liam that he’s not crazy and that they are destined for each other. There were two themes in the story one of which worked pretty OK for me and the other which didn’t so much.
The first theme involves Marc’s change of personal viewpoint towards his sexuality. This could have been a well constructed and slightly angsty re-evaluation by Marc. Instead though, sex is used as a shortcut to feelings and even though Marc has never had any sexual feelings towards men in the past as soon as he sees Liam his body lights up like a Christmas tree. Then once he and Liam become intimate Marc decides that, at least for Liam, he’s happy being gay. It was a little sudden for me which is a shame because the scene in the nightclub where Marc and Liam first meet was well written with a nice balance of awkwardness and earnest discussion from Marc. Those readers who don’t like angst will like this part of the story because despite what could have been heavier themes the writer handles it with a light touch which renders the story rather sweet in places.
Once Marc is happy with being with Liam and the change in his sexuality, the focus of the story shifts to Liam who, due to problems in his past, has forsworn love forever. This was the part that didn’t work for me because I thought the reason why Liam was never going to fall in love was rather ridiculous. I don’t want to give away spoilers here but, really it was a very poor excuse, and I was glad that Liam’s friend in the story also thought it was lame. Far too much time is spent with Liam pushing Marc away out of fear and I was glad when Liam’s friend gave him a good talking to about it, making Liam see sense.
Perhaps one of the reasons why I found Liam’s excuse for not committing a little annoying was because the author had done a good job in showing how well the men work as a couple. Lots of that is done through sex, but there are also a number of scenes where the men are getting to know each other where their chemistry was strong. Despite the relatively short time-frame to the story, I felt that the ultimate destiny shown by the mirror was also reflected in their interactions and so the romance worked for me.
Overall, those looking for a sweetly written gay for you romance with an engaging lead in Marc and a solid romance can’t go wrong with this story. If I hadn’t been slightly disappointed at the use of sexual arousal to force the change in perception for Marc, and in Liam’s reasons for not wanting to commit, I may have rated this higher. There looks to be the possibility of a follow on story to this involving the shopkeeper Simon and I’m interested enough to want to read that if/when it’s released.