Title: Save The Date
Author: Kate McMurray
Cover Artist: Ginny Glass
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella/31.5K words/111 PDF pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Review summary: Nicely done, with sufficient angst to satisfy even the most demanding romance reader and very funny.
Tristan knows he and his ex-boyfriend Stuart were not meant to be, but that doesn’t make the invitation to Stuart’s wedding any less of a punch in the face. Tris decides that the only thing for it is to find a super hot date to prove to Stuart that he’s moved on and is doing just fine, thanks. The path to the altar is fraught with obstacles, however, and Tris has to deal with the wilds of online dating, wardrobe malfunctions, men who look like pirates, emotional baggage, grooms with cold feet, and sports team rivalries before he even gets to the wedding. But when Tris stumbles on love in the last place he expects, he’ll need to let go of the past in order to move forward.
Save The Date is part of Loose id’s wedding collection I Do, Unless I Don’t and I really wanted to read this book because I love this author’s stories as she rarely, if ever, disappoints me.
When the story opened Tristan was being a bit of a drama queen (which was normal for him) during his regular night out with his old rugby pals at the bar owned by one of the guys. He was upset because his ex was getting married and had sent him an invitation to the wedding. It wasn’t clear to me why he was crying in his beer, as their break-up had been mutual a couple years previously when Tris refused to leave New York and move to Boston with Stuart. It could have been the fact that Stuart was marrying Roger after they had been together a very short time. Conversely, Tris and Stuart had known each other for 10 years and lived together for 6, during which time Stuart had never proposed to Tris. His reaction to the news of the wedding was over the top, vintage Tris. When he recovered from his waterworks he decided that he would go to the wedding, if only to show Stuart that he was over him, but there was one problem – he didn’t have a date for the nuptials. So plan A was to find someone really hot to flaunt in Stuart’s face.
At first Tris’s straight friends tried to set him up with dates, but that didn’t work so he decided to do his own research online for the perfect date. There was a snag early on as it was a lot more difficult than he thought to find someone halfway decent, until he hit the mother lode when he saw the profile of someone on one of the dating sites who was looking for a hook-up – his good friend Darren. He was devastated! Darren, one of his oldest friends, was gay and had been hiding in the closet for more than a decade. A few days later Tris confronted him and Darren explained why he hadn’t come out before, something to do with it being harder to ‘fess up the longer he stayed in the closet. But what would happen now that Tris knew Darren was gay and available? A short time later they started dating because they were both attracted to each other, but Tris was still upset that Darren had not come clean about his sexual orientation to their other friends and kept putting off telling them, which basically meant that Tris could not be open about dating Darren. After a few weeks of this Darren decided that he had been in the closet long enough and told the other guys, who accepted them as a couple when the initial amazement about his sexual orientation had died down. However, Tris continued to have unresolved feelings for Stuart, which complicated his relationship with Darren who didn’t want to go to the wedding as arm candy to salvage Tris’s pride. He had hoped that Tris cared about him at least as much as he had loved Stuart, but Tris was in constant contact with his ex whenever he had a meltdown or cold feet about the wedding. Eventually Darren’s feelings about being used by Tris reached the point where he broke off their relationship, leaving Tris to face the music on his own.
Kate McMurray’s writing in Save The Date was top notch as usual. I loved the interaction between the five guys who had been buddies for a long time. The background sports chatter is one reason I keep reading this author’s books; I’m a huge sports fan (as if you didn’t know) 🙂 and she always manages to sneak this in even when the book is not ostensibly about sports. I did like Tris but I would have preferred him to be a little more nuanced, instead he was all drama, all the time. He had never let Stuart go in his heart, which caused the break-up with Darren who was not prepared to be second best. Darren was really well drawn and he put his emotions on the line for Tris. He even told Tris that he had had a crush on him for a long time, even while he and Stuart were a couple, but didn’t do anything about it after their break-up because he didn’t seem to be over Stuart.
My main criticism of the book was the amount of time spent on Stuart and his impending wedding . He was an ex, so why was he in so much of the story other than to amp up the angst? I felt that this time could have been better spent expanding on Tris’s and Darren’s relationship so that I could get to know them as a couple, outside of the bedroom. I was aware of what they both did for a living, but other than that and their love of sports which was the focus of their regular outings to the bar where they watched football and basketball games, they didn’t spend a whole lot of time together one-on-one which to me would have demonstrated more of their character growth. There just seemed to be a few missing threads in the story and I would have felt better about their future together if I could have seen them interact while doing the normal “couple-y” things that most people do in a new relationship. However, despite this lack of personal interaction I thought they were well suited, much more so than Tris and Stuart who had nothing in common. Another positive: the book was really funny and Tris had some great lines. Because Save The Date is told from Tris’s first person POV I had some wonderful insights into his mind and I loved his thoughts, especially the one that most sports were pretty much a uniform away from being gay porn and he didn’t understand why more gay men weren’t into sports.
This book also confirms that opposites do attract and stay together for a long time. According to Tris, Stuart “would have preferred shoving a pencil up his nose to watching sports”, while Tris could care less about the artsy events that Stuart loved.
In Summary: I liked Darren a lot although it took a little while for Tris to grow on me because he was so out there. If you prefer one of your MCs to have a flair for the dramatic, someone who can’t quite make up his mind about what he wants in life and consequently creates a lot of angst for the man who loves him, then you will really love Tris. 🙂 A plus for me, in addition to the sports content, was the really great lines in the book that had me chuckling throughout..