A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A deeply moving and beautiful story that encourages us to love despite the risks!
Blurb: Shy, quiet and withdrawn after the death of his long-term lover, Teague seems set on course for spending the rest of his life alone–until he meets the charismatic musician Julian in the safe zone of online chatting. Julian’s everything Teague is not: creative, impulsive, enthusiastic–and commitment shy. Though they keep their relationship safeguarded with six degrees of separation, the two are fast becoming passionate lovers, close friends, and trusted confidantes. But while Julian’s teaching Teague how to seize the day, Teague’s learning more about why the violinist’s past makes him shy of meeting in person.
When a voice on the phone and a face on the screen are no longer enough to satisfy the two romantics, can Teague find a way to convince Julian to take a chance on him in the real world?
“I spent years sleepwalking through life. You’ve spent years hiding from the real world too. It isn’t enough. I want to wake up. And I want you with me.”
After the loss of his husband, Teague has slowly and comfortably immersed himself in work and, as a result, become a mere shadow of the person he’d been. Never one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, Teague now simply avoids any feelings, especially ones that might leave him vulnerable or hint at the mere possibility of love. But a man cannot escape his loneliness forever and one night, while working late, he hears a lone street musician playing a familiar song.
Without thought or care he opens the window both figuratively and physically and makes contact with Julian, a brash and exciting violinist. Thus begins a friendship that will only take place in the cyber world, leading to online sex and an intensity of emotions that threaten to drown both men as they sit safely inside their apartments tucked away behind their computer screens. But will that suffice? Will this limited interaction be enough for Teague who, for the first time since his partner Harry’s death, not only feels attraction but the stirrings of love? And what about Julian? This coy, sexy man who insists that anything beyond a remote relationship will ultimately break someone’s heart and states in no uncertain terms that he will not allow it to be his. Will he let himself to come out of hiding long enough to fall in love?
The first time I reviewed a novella by author Willa Okati I will admit I was skeptical of the fervor of her fan base. I was assured repeatedly that this author wrote some of the finest m/m romance on the market today and when I was not swept up in that other work as so many were, I assured readers that I wanted to try another of her stories to not only be fair but to also see what all the fuss was about. Well, I understand now…completely.
In The Key Of was a beautiful story of love and healing, of taking risks and winning the day, of reaching beyond what is comfortable and known to embrace the potential of what can be. Both Teague and Julian are wounded in some way, palpably struggling to avoid having their hearts shredded by risking their deepest emotions. For Teague it is not unlike being roused from a long sleep. After the death of Harry, he found it easier to simply stop living. He found his comfort in work and were it not for his friend Danica, he would have cut off his social life altogether. For Julian, a past hurt or possible betrayal has left him fully convinced to never let anyone so close again.
Steadily author Willa Okati forces both of these men into the light. Chance meetings that have an almost childlike quality to them begin to happen—that deep unacknowledged desire to just be near one another constantly pulling them together. In short order this simple novella seemed to take on the life of a full-length novel. With mastery, the author weaves the two men together, allowing for bursts of emotion and heated lust to pull them further and further into each other’s lives.
This was stunning writing. To evoke such a sense of completeness with every encounter between these two men made this story not only a memorable one but the kind of novella that anchored itself in your heart, leaving behind a deep feeling of satisfaction at stories end. With each step, you became a key player in watching these two men dance around their attraction for each other. You thrilled at the small victories achieved when Julian finally acknowledged that he liked Teague and wrung your hands at the sudden roadblocks that Julian was also a master at creating. With each page you were drawn more deeply and became more invested into the lives and love of these two characters.
In the Key Of by Willa Okati was an impressively well written novella that will become a reread for me, of that I have no doubt. This was an elegant love story that reminds us to grab love while we have the chance, before its melody fades away. I highly recommend it to you.