All Alone in a Sea of Romance

AllAloneinaSeaofRomanceTitle: All Alone in a Sea of Romance
Author: B.G. Thomas
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (316 pages)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by jeayci

Review Summary: I didn’t really enjoy it but can see how others would, especially if you enjoy soap operas.

Blurb: I’m Jude Parks, writer of gay romances. Even though I’m good at what I do, the irony is that I haven’t exactly been lucky in love. My friend Jeannie says it’s because I settle for Mr. Right Now instead of holding out for Mr. Forever. I say I’d rather regret what I have done than what I haven’t.

I only came to Romantic Voyages, the biggest romance convention in the country, for business. Yet in no time I got mixed up with a gorgeous cover model, weeping artists, drag queens, and crazy housewives—and became the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Well, they say any press is good press.

Maybe I should’ve stayed home. But then I never would’ve met Tommy Smith, the craziest, most outrageous, silly, sexy man I’ve ever known—a man who makes me wonder if it may be worth holding out for Mr. Forever. A man who might turn my rotten luck around. But only if we survive the weekend and I clear my name….

Review: I thought this story had a lot of promise, and I wanted to love it, but it didn’t quite work for me. The reasons it didn’t work for me may not be issues for other readers, or may even be positives.

I liked Tommy a lot, but although we’re often told that Jude finds Tommy (surprisingly) sexy, and it’s clearly important to him that Tommy not think he’s a slut, I just didn’t feel the chemistry. I felt chemistry with Dino, and thought they just needed to spend some time getting to know each other for real magic to happen. So even though the blurb mentioned Tommy, I sort of forgot that and thought Dino would be the love interest.

When I realized it would be Tommy instead, my enthusiasm waned but I soldiered on and trusted that I’d warm up to the idea. I found Tommy and Jude both “real” enough people, with good and bad qualities. I loved that they weren’t typical romance heroes. And I could definitely see them becoming great friends. But lasting lovers? By the end of the book I had warmed up to the idea a bit, but I still wasn’t totally convinced.

Tommy turned out to be my favorite character, I loved him as the “best friend” and wanted to see him find a man and HEA of his own. Except for the little detail that he supposedly just had, with Jude. And I still missed Dino because I thought he and Jude had real potential. So the romantic pairings just never quite worked for me. Actually, it might have worked best for me if Jude had been left out entirely and Tommy and Dino ended up together.

I’m also not a fan of breaking the fourth wall, so the detailed descriptions and real names at the conference – like Amy Lane and her knitting – made me uncomfortable. It seemed like one of the many blog posts I’ve read talking about the GRL experience, but with an added twist like I was reading a newbie author’s fantasy of making it big. Maybe that’s a testament to what well-written fiction it is, but making me cringe and squirm with embarrassment does not make for the most enjoyable reading experience.

I also had lots of little proofreading niggles, like the “isle” in the grocery store. That sent me off on a mental tangent, as it always does, imagining palm trees and fruity umbrella drinks at the market. Totally trivial, but distracting from the story.

So while this book didn’t work for me, I can see how it could work for people who like Tommy as Jude’s love interest. I also think anyone who loved Eighties soap operas might love this, because although I only watched them one long-ago summer, it rather reminded me of them.

6 comments

  • I really liked this book when I read it a couple of months back, and remember laughing a lot while reading. Contrary to how you felt about breaking the fourth wall I kind of enjoyed that, but what I even more enjoyed is the approached to the entire genre including its many authors origin from fanfiction and dos and don’ts concerning rules of writing, those parts of the book takes a look at itself with a great deal of distance, which in my opinion makes it enjoyable.

    The person I did find annoying is Jude’s female friend (I’ve forgot her name) and what I found really annoying is the way both she and Jude (and maybe the author) over and over repeats the mantra that men can’t, or are in fact biologically incapable of keeping it in their pants. That in my opinion is just as much a cultural expectation (one that has, and still is giving men a lot of lenience when it comes to sleeping around) as it is a biological explanation.

    Unlike you, I had no trouble focusing on the “right” love interest. Dino is the fantasy and Tommy is the more realistic, more compatible match for Jude. But then I think I was in need of middle aged, not so perfect looking characters when reading this book. 😀

    I sometimes think humor is a particularly tricky genre to write, since what we find humorous vary widely from one reader to an other, what makes me cringe, make you laugh and the opposite goes as well.

    Reply
    • Hi Sara, thanks for commenting. And I’m glad the book worked for you. I can see how it could work for some people, I was just disappointed that I wasn’t one of them. Part of why I read it was because I love not-so-perfect and/or older characters, so I thought I’d love this. I think seeing chemistry between Jude and Tommy (or not) makes a BIG difference.

      I agree with you that Jude’s female BFF was annoying, as was much of what happened with and around her (like the “can’t keep it in the pants” thing). And I also agree that humor is one of the trickiest things to write, since it does vary so widely. All the more reason, I think, that we’re all so thrilled when we find a book that does tickle our funny bones. 😀

      Reply
  • Thanks for the review, Jess. It’s kind of fascinating — this sub-subgenre coming up in gay romance that is about the romance writers themselves, the readers, and the conferences. I think every other subject has been done, so this is the last “new” subject that is becoming a trend(e.g., Too Stupid to Live, Galley Proof, The Royal Road, Jump First.)

    Reply
    • Hi Val, thanks for commenting. :smile Jump First is the only one of those I’ve read. I enjoyed it, but as a story about a teenager it didn’t feel quite so… stand-in-ish (I think that’s what I mean). Since I’m not a fan of breaking the fourth wall, I hope this isn’t a new trend! 😮

      But everything had already been done before long before any of us were born, so it’s always been a matter of finding fresh new ways to tell the same old stories. 😀 😎

      Reply

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