Anthem (Crabbypatty’s review)

Title: Anthem (Notes from Boston Book 1)
Author: A.M. Leibowitz
Publisher: Supposed Crimes
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Trevor Davidson has everything going for him. He’s just moved out on his own with three friends, and he’s landed a job as music director at a large Boston church. He has high hopes for marrying his long-term girlfriend and settling into a comfortable, devout lifestyle.

Andre Cole has spent the past few years throwing himself into a dead-end job at a Cape Cod-based call center. When an opportunity to move back to Boston arises, Andre believes it will be the do-over he needs to put his past behind him.

A chance meeting in a club on New Year’s Eve brings Trevor and Andre together for a brief but steamy encounter. Both assuming that’s the end of it, they are unexpectedly thrown back into each other’s lives when Trevor’s church hires Andre for their website design. While Andre is content at first to move on, Trevor’s conflicted feelings bubble over into his songwriting. Before he can stop it, his ode to Andre becomes an inadvertent Christian radio hit.

Unfortunately for Trevor, he isn’t the only one who knows the song’s hidden meaning. Someone has leaked the story and upended Trevor’s life. In order to put the pieces back together, he needs to learn to be honest with his girlfriend, with Andre, and especially with himself.

At the heart of Anthem is the love story of Trevor and Andre, who first meet at a gay bar on New Year’s Eve and share a very steamy interlude. Later they meet at Harvest Church in Boston, a non-denominational mega-church, where Trevor is the music director and Andre has been hired to update their website. Both are bisexual and although Trevor has been dating Marlie on and off for nearly half his life, he has never shared this with her, while Andre had a brief but happy marriage to a woman who was aware of his sexuality. This is the crux of the problems with their relationship. Andre does not want to be anyone’s dirty little secret, while Trevor is torn between Marlie, his growing love for Andre and all the complications that go along with a career in the religious sector.

Beyond this basic story, we also have Trevor’s roommates Nate, and Mack and Jamie who are in a band plus a guy only known as The Boyfriend, Amelia, Andre’s friend/employer Julian and wife Elisa, his friend Jagathi, his grandmother (who heads up a homeless shelter) and sisters Trinity, Phyllice, then there’s Lina, Pastor Bret, Irina Clay-Jones, etc. Similar to a soap opera, these characters and their friends and relationships are brought into the story — crazy bloggers and a mysterious post outing Trevor, an unplanned pregnancy, saving the homeless shelter, a Christian concert with gospel singer Irina Clay-Jones, long-simmering jealousies, a praise and worship song where the words “on my knees, sinking low” is more about Trevor and Andre’s encounter in the bar than anything having to do with religion, an awkward marriage proposal, an amazing public relations campaign – all these subplots were too distracting, and slowed down the pace of the story too much.

There are numerous sex scenes in the book, including a M/F scene. The chemistry between Trevor and Andre didn’t really sizzle and I was distracted by some odd wording throughout, such as “His usual morning semi had taken notice of his stray thoughts about sleeping with Andre and decided to react like a disobedient child.” Or “the last guy I was with who stuck his thing where it didn’t belong left me for someone else.” What?

Even with all the various subplots, everything is neatly tied up at the end of the story, perhaps a bit too neatly. For example, Andre accidently runs into a woman he had one date with earlier in the book (as she is volunteering at his grandmother’s homeless shelter), who then explains why she wasn’t disappointed she didn’t hear from him for a second date.

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Galley copy of provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.

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