Author: A. J. Llewellyn
Cover Art: Sara York & Trace Edward Zaber
Publisher: Amber Quill
Buy Link: Amazon – n/a,
Length: Novella/22,000 words
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
A review by LadyM
Review summary: Green Card-type story with gay characters which wasn’t completely successful.
Blurb: Jack Callahan is in a financial bind, so when Australian novelist Bruce Logan offers him a small fortune to marry him so Bruce can get his green card, Jack agrees. The two men know enough about each other to pull off the immigration interview at Homeland Security, and they can happily share an apartment in Los Angeles until Bruce establishes legal residency.
The problem, though, begins when Jack develops feelings for Bruce and becomes torn when his new husband starts dating another man. Not only that, but Bruce’s expected book royalties fall way short of expectations. Now, not only can Bruce not pay Jack the promised “marital fee,” but it seems that he’s in love with his new man. And with Jack’s lengthy solitude broken, his feelings for Bruce only deepen.
Can the two married men actually find wedded bliss with each other?(
This is the second (and I presume re-edited) edition of this story. It has been some time since I’ve read Llewellyn’s book and, when I saw this release, I jumped at the opportunity to review it.
Wedded Bliss has a simple premise. Jack Callahan is a casting director in financial trouble partly due to the economic situation, partly due to his back-stabbing ex. When he sees an ad in a local paper offering money in exchange for marriage and a green card, he answers it. Bruce Logan is an Australian novelist who longs to stay in the U.S. His own trouble with an ex made him delay prolonging his visa and, on the advice of his lawyer, he now needs to get married.
There is a perfect word to describe this story: whirlwind. Things progress so rapidly that the reader can’t really get a hold on the characters.
Jack is 34 and respected in his field of work. From what we see in the story, he is responsible and serious about his job. It’s hard to believe that such a man would go for a fake marriage. Surely there is something he could do in the movie industry or in some other field. But this is fiction and a fake marriage is a premise of the story, so I could go with it. Only, once Jack falls for Bruce he stops thinking about money completely. Still, Jack was likable. I liked his relationship with actress Miranda and her daughter and the way he treated young actors and colleagues. Bruce is another story. Maybe, because we don’t get his point of view, except in his blog. We know he is anxious to stay in the U.S. due to disagreements with his family. We know he is delighted to meet Jack after all the creeps that have answered his ad. But… that is pretty much it.
I couldn’t see what Jack saw in Bruce except his physical appearance. His actions painted him as a jerk. He keeps Jack at arm’s length at all times, which is understandable especially in the beginning. But then he starts writing a blog to establish their relationship for the immigration services and the posts contain these little jabs aimed at Jack and his family. They can be taken jokingly, but taking into account Bruce’s entire demeanor, I wasn’t convinced. Once the two men are married, they enter into a full sexual relationship. And, once again, Bruce withdraws afterwards. Not only that but he starts a professional relationship with Dawson Aatos, an actor who betrayed Jack and is still trying to use him. In a word, I wasn’t at all enamored with Bruce.
It could be that the speed with which everything developed is responsible for how I saw Bruce and, eventually, the relationship between two men. There was no room in the story for gradual, natural development of their relationship or to give Bruce’s character some nuance. I couldn’t help thinking that with some tweaking (like a little less space dedicated to ‘pashing’ and more to the men’s other activities) the story would have more impact.
The story isn’t without charm. The humor was mostly provided by Kenny, Bruce’s roommate, who spends all his time in the Second Life and lives as if the virtual reality was real life. I liked parts of the story that showed Jack working. It was a little insight into a world behind the sound stages and Jack’s work ethics. These story elements showed the accomplished author Llewellyn is.
Your reaction to this story would largely depend on your expectations. If you want a quick, light read, this might be the right choice for you. If you want to really get to know the characters and their motivations, it might not. As always, this is just my opinion and I invite you to make your own.
On a personal note, this is probably the last review I am writing for Gay Book Reviews. I’m taking this opportunity to thank Wave, Lynn, Christian and all my fellow reviewers and contributors. Together you have made this a special place for all the lovers of M/M romance and GLBT books. I will miss it. Good luck to you all!