Title: 500 Miles
Author: Parker Williams
Cover Artist: Deana C. Jamroz
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Buy Link 500 Miles, MLR Press
Genre: M/M Romance
Length: Short Story (12, 000 words)
Rating: 4.5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A tender coming of age and first love story from a promising new author.
Blurb: Mark loves Jase, but will that be enough to bring Jase back from the brink after a devastating tragedy?
Since he was fourteen, Mark knew he loved Jase, his brother Eric’s best friend. As Jase and Eric leave for the Army, Jase leaves Mark something to hold onto, but when the two men are shipped to Kuwait, things change when Jase tells Mark he’s met someone. Confused and hurt, Mark is left to wonder what happened. Eric returns, but with devastating news — and needing Mark’s help. Can Mark help the man who broke his heart? Or will he let Jase push him away – for the second time?
Review: There are in this world a select few who find the person they love at a very early age. This I know to be true as I had an aunt who married at 16 and remained so for the next 53 years until her husband passed away–they were devoted to each other. And so, the idea that young Mark could meet, fall in love and then maintain that same level of emotion for Jase over a span of several years is a plausible idea that takes wing in Parker Williams’ new short story, 500 Miles.
What worked in this sweet sip of a story? Most nearly everything.
When Mark first meets his brother Eric’s friend, there is an instant stirring, something that rapidly moves beyond a boyhood crush into an awareness that each day is made a little bit better for Mark because Jase happens to be in it. Jase also feels the attraction, but wisely backs away from it, trying his best to put needed distance between himself and the under-aged Mark. Fate intervenes by deploying both Eric and Jase to Kuwait and it is there that Jase realizes that Mark is so deeply involved with him that he feels, for Mark’s sake, he must take drastic steps to turn Mark away–even though it will nearly break his own heart in the process.
As Mark attempts to move on, to deny his feelings, events take place that will leave Jase needing Mark in such a way that he will be forced to decide if he can forgive the man he still loves and convince Jase that they are meant to be together.
500 Miles is a short story that packs the heat and wallop of a longer novella. In the span of mere pages, the author is able to give us an in-depth glimpse into what makes his main character tick, the angst, the emotional awkwardness, the tenacity of a determined teenager is deftly presented. Mark is utterly believable and he draws you into his world and allows you to experience all his joys and, yes, his deep pain and sorrow.
It is difficult to write a really fine short story, to reveal a chapter in a person’s life in a way that the reader comes away feeling that they truly know the characters and are concerned for their plight. Newcomer Parker Williams does just that in 500 Miles. His pacing throughout most of the book was spot on, moving rapidly through several years, yet giving us a good sense of how the characters were changing and growing. It is only near the end, that I felt the story faltered just a bit.
The last few pages were critical to the future that we so desperately wanted for Mark and Jase to have. It was here that I felt the push forward sacrificed much needed time to fully wrap up the story. Simply put, I felt that Mr. Williams had just a bit more to tell us and opted instead to push ahead, making the ending just a bit too easy and, in doing so, sacrificing the believability this final plot point deserved. Consequently for the first and only time, I felt that the story lacked a bit of credibility.
However, this was a minor element–yes, an important one, but overall the scope and beauty of this story was not diminished. The rest of this book was so strong and so well developed that this last bit merely frustrated me because I wanted more, more time to see these two mend the rift that had occurred in their relationship.
So, dear reader, I leave you with this sweet offering, 500 Miles by Parker Williams. A delightful story by an exciting up and coming new author–who could ask for anything more?