Title: Wrestling With Jesus
Author: Stephen Osborne
Cover Artist: Anne Caine
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Humor
Length: Novel (210 pages)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by jeayci
Review Summary: A humorous satire that would have worked better for me with fewer logic holes and more three-dimensional, likeable characters.
Blurb: Bookstore owner Randy Stone is smitten. His new boyfriend, Kyle Temple, is sweet, hot, attentive, and great in bed. But introducing Kyle to his family takes courage, because Randy’s parents can be a little judgmental, and Kyle is ten years younger than Randy, a small-time pro wrestler, and dumber than the proverbial sack of hammers. Needless to say, Randy’s parents aren’t exactly thrilled, and even his best friend is skeptical.
Despite the challenges, Randy is determined to tough it out for Kyle. After all, enduring a few scornful comments from his mother is nothing compared to what Kyle’s going through trying to quit smoking for Randy. When a hypnotherapy session designed to help with Kyle’s cravings leaves him quoting Jesus Christ—in Aramaic—Randy’s parents are suddenly the least of their problems. Once word gets out, their privacy is destroyed. News crews follow them everywhere, and everyone who knows Kyle seems determined to make a buck. It’s a mess that could make Kyle’s dreams of wrestling in the UWE come true—but what about his dream of being with Randy?
Review: The premise of this story sounded absurd in a way I thought could be fun. It had some great humor but there were too many logic holes for me to really enjoy it. I realize the whole premise was implausible, but I’ve read many more implausible books that convinced me completely to believe in worlds and creatures I’d never even imagined. So that’s no excuse. 🙂 It also played on stereotypes so extremely and consistently I was getting annoyed, until I realized it had to be satire. At least, I hope so! I’d be more confident of that if a few of the logic holes had been patched and the characters had been more three-dimensional.
It didn’t really work for me as a romance because although we’re told – frequently – that Randy and Kyle are in love, I never saw what drew them together. They don’t appear to have any common interests nor ever to listen to each other. One example of the latter is that they apparently reached the “meet the parents” stage without ever having talked about their respective parents. They’re about to have dinner with Randy’s parents when Randy starts last-minute coaching Kyle on what to expect. It sounds like the first time Randy has told Kyle about his parents. In the course of that conversation, Randy learns that Kyle never knew his father. I guess that was new information because the only thing they had in common was great sex? There’s also a Big Misunderstanding near the end that annoyed me, as BMs usually do, and was a clear result of the whole “not listening to each other” thing, as BMs usually are.
For quite a while, one of Kyle’s wrestling buddies was the only character in the book I liked at all. Kyle eventually grew on me, as he’s sweet and earnest, kind-hearted and well-meaning, even if he is… well, have you ever heard the expression that someone has a full six-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy that holds them all together? That’s Kyle. He had moments of surprising astuteness, like when he pointed out that he couldn’t be Jesus because he flunked geometry.
“Jesus was a carpenter, right? Carpenters have got to know shit like that. Angles and stuff. It stands to reason, then, that I can’t be him.”
But for the most part he’s about as sharp as a marble. He thinks Randy’s best friend (a b*tch named Debbie) likes him as much as he likes her.
“Every time I see her, she’s got some kind of compliment for me. Remember how the last time we were out, she told me I made ignoramuses look good? I thought that was pretty cool. A lot of people seem to think I’m pretty dumb, but she can see right through that.”
I found the hypnosis premise stronger than I’d expected, especially considering how many logic tests this book failed. I think that’s a great example of what I’d hoped the whole book would be, actually.
I wanted to believe, but then there were things like the hypnotist bringing a recording of the session to a friend who’s a history professor with some interest in languages. Despite the potential inherent in those two qualities, no case was made to explain how he’d be able to identify as obscure a language as Aramaic. And if he didn’t speak Aramaic – a reasonable assumption, lacking any evidence to the contrary – then how was he able to tease out individual words to look up in his handy-dandy dictionary? To those who don’t speak a language (or another in its family), identifying where one word ends and another begins is impossible.
Despite my frequent frustration with the lack of logic, I laughed a lot and appreciated a lot of the humor. There were many funny coincidental similarities between Kyle and Jesus, things that made the Jesus thing almost seem plausible: Kyle’s mother’s name is Mary, their last name is Temple, he doesn’t know who his father was, just to name a few. But my favorite was:
“You’re telling us that you were impregnated by a guy in a ghost outfit? One with holes all over it? A holey ghost?”
“That’s about the size of it.”
Enough of these similarities built up over time that I started to wonder if maybe Kyle really was channeling or a reincarnation of Jesus. Considering I don’t believe in either channeling or reincarnation, that’s saying something! If you can suspend disbelief enough, or enjoy it anyway, this is an entertaining book.