Guest review by Orion
Review summary: An engaging romance that is very well told.
What happens when the person you love is having doubts?
These two boyfriends have been through a lot. Best friends since childhood, fell in love in high school and thought they would be together forever. They stuck together even when their friends and family found out about their relationship. Struggling with challenge after challenge, they have finally made it to college and are living on their own. Living together is a whole new world and being open with their relationship is even more so.
Spending every day together as a couple they begin to learn about their differences. Things that never bothered them are now annoying traits driving a wedge between them. Can their relationship survive their differences? Can it handle new friends and new romances? Will they find their way together or will they drift apart?
Wonderful. Touching. Engrossing. Those are the words that best describe Jayson James’s Drifting. He is an author who is new to me, although I understand that this book is actually the third in a series about these characters. The earlier works are Finding Our Way and Tormented Discovery, neither of which, I must confess, I have read. If Drifting is any indication of the quality of those books, not having read them is definitely my loss.
Justin Parker and Derrick Wilson, the main characters, start out as friends in high school in Finding Our Way. The blurb for that book indicates that they have girlfriends, solidly middle-class families, and plenty of friends. In dealing with certain issues within both their lives, they discover romantic feelings for each other. Tormented Discovery picks up with Justin and Derrick becoming a couple in their senior year of high school. It explores their struggle to cope as their friends and families react to the revelation that they are gay and together.
Drifting follows Justin and Derrick as they enter college life. They are still in love, so much so that, after starting out at separate institutions, they soon come together as roommates at the same college. And that is where a new challenge begins for them as they move past that blissful stage of breathless new romance to the gritty, day-to-day reality of living together. This begins a rollercoaster ride for both the main characters and the reader.
Jayson James does a great job here. The novel shifts point of view between Justin and Derrick. With some stories that use this approach, I can’t find any distinction in the writing between the personalities. Both points of view seem to be the same character. That isn’t the case here. The characters of Justin and Derrick are fully developed, and their very different personalities shine through in their respective sections. The writing overall is very good, avoiding the wordiness and trite phrasing that plague many novels in this genre.
The things these guys encounter, that threaten to set them adrift from each other, are the simple, ordinary things that any couple living together will have to deal with. These issues are depicted in a realistic fashion, with dialogue that is also realistic. This novel tugged at my emotions, not in a manipulative way but in the simple, honest fact of the situations it depicts.
The novel works very well on its own. I never felt lost in reading it, nor did I ever feel blindsided by a character’s reaction or that I had missed vital parts of any character’s history. You can read Drifting without having read the first two books, but it is not a good idea to do so. I think you will feel that you have cheated yourself, as I do. I am going back and reading the stories of Justin and Derrick’s earlier lives. Jayson James has the makings of a long career as a talented writer of m/m romances. He has produced a novel that is fresh and poignant, and I highly recommend it.