Title: Lovers & Fighters
Author: Nash Summers
Publisher: Dreamspinner Publishing
Release Date: September 9, 2015
Page Count: 127
Reviewed by: Gigi
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
Scott Halleck and Julian Reeves are polar opposites in almost every way. Scott, a modern arts curator at a museum in Chicago, relishes the finer things in life. Julian is a strange photographer whose hair color changes as frequently as his mood. As far as Scott can see, Julian is an erratic know-it-all who lives his life one day to the next. To Julian, Scott is an uptight, too-coiffed perfectionist.
As the two men continue to run into each other, their dislike grows, but beneath that animosity, a fire is beginning to spark. Scott is baffled when he realizes he is falling for Julian, a man who burns hotter than a wildfire. Scott will have to decide, for the first time in his life, if he’ll let the flames take over.
I was downright mesmerized by this book. It is my first Nash Summers book and after looking at the reviews for other Nash Summer’s books including fawn, Maps and Carte Blanche, I realize just how slow on the uptake I am. She writes wonderful, magically vivid stories with exceptional characterization. Some examples from Lovers & Fighters:
The front of the cafe had two giant glass windows so passersby could have a look into the small sandwich shop, and outside were a few small white plastic tables with matching faux wicker chairs. The name of the shop was stenciled onto the inside of the window with some clean typography in a matte white paint.
The two of us approached the small children’s carnival that the park had set up for the time being. There were stands of pink and blue cotton candy, popcorn so buttered it looked like glass, and mini donuts whose smell filled the air around us with the scent of warm sugar.
The museum felt like a home to me, all the pieces of artwork collected from around the world, from some of the best and most brilliant artists. When I was near those pieces of artwork, I felt like they were fallen stars from somewhere in the heavens that became fed up with the perpetual brightness of themselves and decided to drop down to earth.
That is just a very small sampling. I book-marked 27 passages that moved me like the three passages above did. I could smell and see and feel everything I was reading and it really affected me in a way no other writer has been able to do.
This is a simple story of two lost souls, sleepwalking through life. The sadness of characters Scott and Julian is all-consuming and I cried several times just at the thought of how removed from life these two are. They are as different as night and day, Scott, incredibly rigid, is always focused on his daily tasks to the point of obsession, just to numb himself of the realization that his life is empty. He sees himself as boring and plain with nothing to offer a potential partner. He clings to his boyfriend Ryan, tip-toeing around him so he doesn’t make a mistake and drive him away. Julian, a wild-child with the word “trouble” tattooed on his back, feels he deserves to be punished for his misdeeds and seeks out men who beat and humiliate him.
Scott and Julian find themselves constantly bumping in to each other, and their differences immediately rub each other the wrong way. The book is told entirely from Scott’s POV, so we learn a LOT about Julian’s motivations at the end of the book and it is spectacular.
I would not label this a romance. It was more of a love story in my mind. There is some sex, but it is a very small part of what these two are to each other. The emotions are slow to progress and obsessive in nature, but I never found myself judging either of their characters. And while we don’t get a classic M/M romance HEA, the ending was very much HFN with the certainty in my mind that, no matter how unhealthy these two are, they will grow and love and learn and lean on each other to make both of their lives mean something and finally feel something.
I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough. It was so beautiful and unique and refreshing and sad and absolutely perfect.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to read more from Nash Summers.