Author: Keelan Ellis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 15, 2016
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Ethan Daniels, host of a popular conservative cable news program, has never thought of his bisexuality as a problem, though he has never acted on his attraction to men. Since his divorce, that desire has become more acute. When he meets Charlie Woods, his daughter’s first grade teacher, they have an instant spark, but Ethan hesitates to act. His contract is up for renewal, there are already rumors swirling about him because of a brief encounter from his past, and the last thing his employers want is for one of their stars to come out publicly.
Charlie avoids romantic entanglements because he prefers living on his own terms. He keeps love and sex completely separate, never seeing anyone more than a few times. Hooking up with a closeted celebrity like Ethan seems safe from emotional involvement, even if they have to keep their fledgling relationship secret.
The last thing they expect is to fall in love, but their strong mutual attraction moves them both to make changes neither of them thought they wanted or needed.
Ethan Daniels makes “a lot of money doing something kind of terrible” – working for ECHO, the famously conservative news network (think Faux News). But his job allows him to live in Manhattan so he can be near his 6-yr-old daughter Fiona and ex-wife Deirdre, with whom he shares custody. Sure, ECHO “was a toxic atmosphere and dissent from the network’s positions was not tolerated for long” but Ethan could keep his own opinions to himself for an insane amount of money, and living near his child, couldn’t he?
But everything changes when Ethan meets Charlie Woods, Fiona’s first grade teacher. Although Ethan has never explored his bisexuality, after a drunken blow job and a second much more sober encounter, Charlie and Ethan are suddenly in insta-love. I felt it difficult to buy into their attraction because we don’t know enough about each man’s background and character at this point and there is too much “telling” their feelings rather than “showing.”
The story line is interesting, but bogs down somewhat with Ethan continually claiming he can work at ECHO and keep his job separate from his life and his own views and opinions, but he refuses to see how this affects his relationship with Charlie as well as his friends. Or Ethan’s indecisiveness about dating Charlie, OR maybe finding a girlfriend to keep ECHO management happy, OR breaking up with Charlie OR maybe coming out of the closet at some point in the future, OR maybe not. Personally, I felt this was rehashed one too many times, but I never tired of the merciless evisceration of ECHO and its toxic work culture:
[Ethan] had to get through his interview with William Browning, head of the Christian Values League and author of the book “Along Straight Paths: Raising Real Boys in a Godless World”. Ethan was dreading it. The story they were doing was on the recent push by several states to outlaw so-called gay conversion camps. The network’s official position on the subject was that it was tantamount to religious discrimination, and that the government had no right to tell parents how to raise their children.
The book ends with a hard-earned HEA, but condenses another year of Ethan and Charlie’s relationship into a few pages, and again I felt it suffered from “showing” rather than “telling.” Finally, I found a error in the story, where at times Ethan has been working at ECHO for either three years… or one year. Ultimately, I would recommend this book, knowing that some readers aren’t going to be bothered as I was by the showing vs. telling. Your mileage may vary!