Author: Valerie Z. Lewis
Cover Artist: n/a
Publisher: Self published
Amazon: Buy Link The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen
Genre: Comedy/Contemporary Romance
Length: 215 pages (estimated)
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This long — but maybe too long? — novel with great leads made me laugh out loud so many times while I was reading it. I hope it will entertain you as much as it did me.
A comedy about a bisexual mechanic turned model who aims to get the man of his dreams and save the world as soon as he finishes smoking this joint.
The main initial attraction of this story for me was the price (it is free from the author’s website linked above or 99 cents from Amazon and Barnes and Noble) and while not without a few issues, what I got was a hilarious story for essentially free. I do not remember reading a story which had me laughing so hard for quite some time, and when I say “laughing hard” I mean exactly that. I found probably 90% of the dialogue to be laugh-out-loud funny.
The story is written from the POV of Doug, an incredibly charming character, who is very open and honest in what he wants and very, very funny. Doug reminded me (a little bit) of Al, one of the MCs from JL Merrow’s story “Muscling Through”, but while I found myself wondering whether Doug may have had a mental disability, or just very direct in his dealings with the world around him, I did not find their voices to be very similar, maybe just a very general vibe that I was getting? In any event, story itself is very different than “Muscling Through”.
As we all know, humor is such a subjective thing, and what I loved and laughed at, you may hate, so let me give you an example of the humor in this story and maybe it will help you decide whether it will work for you or not:
Doug looked at the paper doubtfully. “I’m not gonna have sex with any other guys, Stephen. I’m only gay for you.”
“I’m touched,” Stephen said. “Get out”
Stephen stood with his arms folded over his chest as Doug readied himself to leave. He put on his jacket, adjusted his orange hat, and retied his shoelaces. Then he stood smiling expectantly at Stephen.
“What part of ‘get out’ was confusing?” Stephen asked.
Doug smiled suggestively. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
“A weapon?” Stephen offered.
Doug leaned forward and whispered, “It’s our second date. It’s okay to kiss me now.”
“This is not a date,” Stephen told him firmly. “The first event was blackmail, and the current event is stalking.”
“What’s the next event?”
Doug started backing towards the door. “I’ll leave then. See you at work.”
If this excerpt feels a little farcical, it is because it was in my opinion, but the story overall combines such moments (not sure how to call it better — slapstick comedy? a little farcical?) with very sweet, very romantic ones and, in my opinion, does it quite well.
As you can see from the excerpt, initially Doug’s love interest is not very interested in him, to put it mildly, but on his way of searching for his sexual identity Doug manages to win Stephen’s heart and show him what are most important things in life. In fact, I wished that sometimes Stephen would have gotten over himself faster and stopped being so mean to Doug faster, but don’t get me wrong, Stephen’s behavior made sense to me and the change in his behavior made sense to me as well.
But as funny as I found this story and while I liked it overall, I had some niggles that brought my rating down. First, I felt it needed editing and cutting in my opinion. At times we get whole pages of incidents — for example info-dumps from the characters’ pasts which I would speculate were meant to show why both Doug and Stephen behaved the way they did — but I thought sometimes it went on and on for too long and at times (not too often) got a little tedious. Moreover, and even though it did not cease being funny, their interactions themselves sometimes got very repetitive. Lastly, there is a mini-mystery, so to speak, with a villain that appears in the middle of the story and I felt it was not a very well-developed subplot.
Basically I mostly recommend this story for the funny dialogue and enjoyable main characters, but again, read the excerpt and see if the humor works for you, because if it does not, you will not enjoy the book, since I thought that humor was its main strength.