Title & Link: Chasing The Sun
Author: Jacob Z. Flores
Cover Artist: Michael Breyette
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Chasing the Sun (Provincetown)
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Rating: 3 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A sequel that had great promise but left too many problems too easily resolved.
Provincetown: Book Two
A Spin-off of When Love Takes Over
As a physician and prominent citizen of Victoria, Texas, Dr. Gil Kelly took a hard fall when his vengeful wife revealed his infidelity with other men. Closing ranks around her, the town’s elite ostracized him, and his relationship with his children was nearly destroyed.
After spending his life focused on living for others, he has no idea how to live for himself. He wants to find love but now settles for anonymous sex that only further clouds his world with shame and guilt. Gil believes finding true love is an unobtainable dream, what his father used to call “chasing the sun.”
Then he runs into Tom Martinez, his son’s childhood best friend, who returned to town a grown man and offers everything Gil needs. But Gil hesitates to fall into Tom’s arms, because after his high-profile divorce, the potential scandal of loving a younger man could separate him from his children permanently.
Review: Chasing the Sun does an excellent job of picking up and exploring the tangled mess that is Zach Kelly’s family life from the preceding book, When Love Takes Over. If you have not read the first installment in author Jacob Z. Flores’ Provincetown series it is important to do so in order to understand the intricacies of the relationships in book two and, more importantly, the wounded past between Zach and his father Gil, for that is what Chasing The Sun focuses heavily on.
In a nutshell, Gil Kelly left his family five years before, finally coming out of the closet he had been hiding in and was now still living in the town in which he, his wife and his two children, Zach and Sami have resided all of their married lives. The divorce was bitter and very public and Donna, Gil’s wife, has made it her mission to make Gil’s life a living hell ever since. It has been years since Gil and Zach have spoken to one another and Zach bears a deep resentment of Gil for the way in which he perceived his father always seemed to feel Zach never measured up. The truth is that it was Gil who was always trying to escape his own father’s recriminations that he was always “chasing the sun” by wanting to be something he was not. Unfortunately in his desire to never repeat the sins of his own father, Gil, in actuality, made Zach feel like a second class citizen in their home. Always meaning to just encourage his son to be all he could be, poor Gil communicated his displeasure at Zach’s attempts at most things by telling him to reach higher. Gil now lives under the heavy burden of guilt and remorse that threatens to eat him alive.
Now Gil has firmly closed the door on those feelings by declaring that if his children really wanted to know him and still loved him, they would come to him. It takes a visit from the now adult Tommy Martinez (Zach’s closest childhood friend) to set Gil straight. In one of the many gems that Tommy;s character utters, he reminds the man that “If your child doesn’t meet you halfway, then you go all the way to him, You are the parent, right?” Gil finally understands that he must reach out to his children and begin to repair what was torn apart at the divorce. But there is another reason Tommy has visited their home town and when it is revealed that he likes Gil, that he, in fact, has been waiting for Gil ever since the divorce in order to begin a relationship with him, Gil is shocked to realize that he, too has feelings for the younger man and wants to act on them.
There were many fine moments in this sequel that bear mentioning. First, the wisdom that Tommy brings to Gil that ultimately relieves him of the heavy weight of guilt he has been carrying with him since the divorce is realistic and profound. While Gil has been doing one nameless hook-up after another, he has pulled so far away from the community that he lives in, he no longer can see his friends from his enemies. Instead, he has focused solely on those who judge and condemn him for his being gay. Not only has this caused him to, in essence, hide again, but it has skewed his view of how he thinks his children perceive him and caused Gil to push them away. In fact, he only has interaction with Sami because she has pursued him, not the other way around.
Now Gil opens his eyes for the first time to the truth that he never really gave anyone a chance to continue being his friend. It takes Tommy forcing him out of his second self-imposed closet to allow him to realize that he is not as alone as he thinks he has been. Tommy is also instrumental in bringing Zach and Gil back together. He pushes Gil to leave behind his self-loathing and grab what is right in front of him. With perhaps the most important truth in this novel, Tommy encourages Gil to “always define ourselves and never be defined by what others see or expect.” With this important realization, Gil steps out for the first time with a new found humility–not guilt–over the damage he has caused his family and resolves to apologize and try to repair what he has done.
This story was well written and the characters were certainly vibrant and well fleshed out. However, unlike its predecessor, Chasing The Sun tended to wrap things up in very neat packages and resolve deep issues a bit too easily. The fact that Zach’s best friend was now his father’s lover was a huge pill to swallow and yet it was glossed over in a mere few pages. There was a twenty year age gap between Gil and Tommy–a boy who Gil repeated recalls as a small child in his own home. I have to say the way in which the community seemed to embrace their new found relationship was a bit unrealistic. Yes it was inferred that their were still those in town who despised and judged Gil but for the most part, after a climactic showdown and closure scene between Donna and Gil over his infidelities and coming out, there was little in the way of any pressure on Gil and Tommy to feel the hateful judgment that was supposedly still present.
I hate to say it but everyone was just a bit too happy and not at all affected by this new found love Gil had for Tommy and that was why I felt this novella fell short. This plot that was so well devised failed in its execution–it should have had much more page time. The near instant love between Gil and Tommy simply felt forced and unconvincing. Even if the age gap alone did not give Gil more pause, the idea that this was someone who had been a childhood friend, who was almost like a second son, this should have really had an impact on the decision to make their partnership public after only a few weeks.
Secondarily, the closure scene between Donna and Gil where she tells him how badly he wounded her and the deeps sense of betrayal she felt was too quick and dismissive. Suddenly after five years of deep-seated hurt, that one diatribe was the key to making them friends again? The revelation that over twenty years of marriage was all a lie is a huge issue. I felt the author shortchanged the very healing process that he, himself, stated as critical in order for them all to move forward.
All in all, Chasing The Sun by Jacob Z. Flores suffered from too little story on the page. I felt this needed to be a full length novel with some twists and turns to make it more realistic and have a greater impact. In the end, what could have been a great story was merely a good one that left this reader wanting.