Title: Behind Every Cloud
Author: Penny Brandon
Cover Artist: Ginny Glass
Publisher: Loose Id
Buy Link: Buy Link Behind Every Cloud, Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Rating: 2 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A potentially sweet romance is derailed due to plot problems and unbelievable scenarios.
Blurb: Forced to live behind a lie because of a promise he made to his sister, Kurt’s been celibate for twelve years. It’s not so much the sex he misses, but the chance at a family like the one his parents brought him up to expect. Then he meets Sasha, and it becomes all about the sex. Though he tries hard to resist, Sasha’s just too damn gorgeous, and Sasha wants him. So why not just give in?
Throwing himself with abandon into the Sydney gay scene, millionaire Sasha Harrison becomes playboy celebrity known to everyone as “Silver.” It was fun at first, but after five years of being the media’s meal ticket he now just wants to be left alone. Hounded by reporters, he hides out with Kurt, the one guy who has no idea who he is, or was. But that’s the problem. Kurt doesn’t realize Sasha’s not used to being turned down, and Sasha’s not used to being with nice guys.
Review: Two men are in hiding for very different reasons. For Kurt, his over-dedicated sense of guilt over not being present when his parents were involved in a fatal car accident, leaves him tied emotionally to a sister who, even though married, he still feels he must shield. Hence, he has denied himself any male companionship for over 12 years and has never come out to his sister. Every day, working himself nearly to the brink of exhaustion, he hides within his career and his barren apartment, living a mere half life. Across the city, another man is frantically attempting to escape a foolishly indulgent past that continues to plague him despite his hermit like status. The paparazzi follow Sasha (or Silver as they refer to him) relentlessly and now a mysterious stalker is after him. Meanwhile a shady reporter is determined to expose Sasha’s former affair with a politician who hid the fact that he was married from Sasha.
Fate brings these two men together on the very night that Sasha’s stalker makes his move and drugs his drink, leaving Kurt no choice but to take a very incoherent Sasha home to his place for the night. What neither man realizes is that one night will morph into something more and the closet that Kurt hides in as well as the walls Sasha has built to protect his heart are both about to come tumbling down.
Behind Every Cloud by Penny Brandon had the potential to be an edgy romance that had a good balance of angst and sweetness. Unfortunately there were a few hitches along the way that left what I felt were some glaring holes in this mystery cum romance. While singly many of these plot points could have been overlooked but as they rolled right into one another I felt myself increasingly frustrated over the author’s choices. In my opinion there were a few too many strange elements in this novel that did not gel. Because of that, the veracity–the truth of the story faltered and the characters became less and less believable.
For me, if one is going to write a contemporary fiction piece then the more the author can make the story true to itself, the better it becomes. For instance, take the setting of this novel. Until the city of Sydney was mentioned, I could have sworn to you we were in a beach resort area in America. Not only was there no Australian vernacular used, neither were there any quaint colloquialisms or native customs practiced. I recently spent ten days in both Melbourne and Sydney and was immediately struck by all the cultural differences. From the way in which they express themselves to their daily routines, Aussies could not have been more enchanting or different. Yet, here I was reading a novel with the main setting being Australia and I truly had no idea this was where these men lived. I tend not to read blurbs as I like the story to be fresh for me. So, I honestly stopped dead in this novel when I finally understood where these characters lived. Then I was torn again and again from the plot because they were so un-Aussie in their behavior and speech–it just didn’t make sense.
However, the bigger issue for me was the premise behind the twelve year self-imposed celibacy by Kurt. I wasn’t sure why Kurt’s parents insisted he not tell his sister Kennedy that he was gay, after all she was a teenager and I would think more than able to handle that kind of revelation. Then, after his parent’s fatal accident, the idea that police officers told a 14-year old girl that her parents were just killed and then left her alone based on her assertion that her brother was coming home just staggered me. Surely they would not have baldly told her the news and then left her there in the house by herself? Then we were to understand that she was there for three days all alone? Okay, so if I stretched my disbelief just a bit I could buy that but then for Kurt to harbor such guilt about circumstances that were beyond his control even after his sister was married and pregnant that he could not bring himself to date? I get that he was unsure about telling her he was gay but surely he had to have met some suitable guy somewhere in twelve long years?
Gradually, the little things in this novel that began to pile up and irritate me, yank me out of the story and had me just shaking my head at the lack of believability. Plot points such as Sasha claiming to be an out of work actor, yet having both food and clothing delivered while Kurt was out–where was the money coming from if he had no job? Why didn’t Kurt question that? Or the tattoo that Kurt managed to get in the few days the two men were separated that mimicked Sasha’s own and was strategically placed on his anatomy so that the mere idea of make-up sex for Kurt should have been a definite no. Yet, somehow it magically healed in less than a weeks’ time?
After a while, all the inconsistencies began to snowball and made this novel truly frustrating to read and terribly hard to concentrate on. All the small glitches turned what could have been a delightful romance into just a so-so read. Penny Brandon is a new author for me and I think she has a real knack for story telling but needs to edit more and be true to her story lines. Behind Every Cloud had some good moments but overall it was lacking the elements it needed to make it a great novel.