Title: Light and Water (Second Edition)
Author: M. King
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 29, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Literary Fiction
Page Count: 324
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Freelance photographer Dan Wright isn’t looking for romance in Venice. Still smarting from a bad breakup, Dan just wants a vacation and some self-indulgent fun to help him clear his mind. But amid the mystique of the city, he meets quiet schoolteacher Cesare Eveschi, and he decides there’s nothing wrong with a holiday fling. After all, it’s not like there’s a chance for anything serious when Dan is out and proud and Cesare is still hiding in the closet.
But as the two men engage in a whirlwind affair, Dan sees more than he expected in Cesare—behind the shyness and traditional values is a passionate and idealistic man yearning for love. Dan isn’t sure he wants another relationship, but he can’t deny the feelings forming between them may last beyond the suntan. Before Dan lets the possibility for happiness slip through his fingers, he must take a step back and acknowledge how his time in La Serenissima—his time with Cesare—has changed him.
“Light and Water” is a subtle nuanced story about two men – Englishman Dan Wright and Italian schoolteacher Cesare Eveschi – who meet during a holiday in Venice, the romantic city of light and water. Dan is recovering from the breakup of his four-year relationship with Paul and comes to Venice to recover and regroup. He meets the deeply-closeted Cesare at a pizzeria and they spend the next week together exploring Venice and its glorious sites by day … and each other by night. But what begins as a brief steamy sexy holiday fling turns into something much more for both men.
Cesare is a schoolteacher in Lunigiana, a fairly small town where he has lived all his life, and has a close relationship with his parents. He is also a practicing Catholic and because of his community and his family as well as his job, Cesare feels he must remain firmly in the closet. M. King beautifully shows how much Cesare longs for a relationship and how he struggles with the choice he has made.
Dan is unable and unwilling to understand Cesare’s dilemma but they part on good terms at the end of Dan’s holiday, with each other’s contact information in hand. At this point, I felt the gentle flow of the book ground to a halt, as Dan returns to London and basically resumes his life … and his troubled relationship with Paul, but continues to communicate with Cesare via emails and phone calls. Without going into too much detail, the remainder of the book focuses on what course their relationship will take.
“Light and Water” reads like literary fiction, rather than contemporary M/M romance, with a heaping side of Venice travelogue, and M. King has a lovely writing style that really brings the city to life. But I ended the book feeling that the characters of Dan and Cesare needed to be more richly developed. The ending is very much a HFN that leaves their relationship and future up in the air, but we are left with the knowledge that Dan and Cesare deeply love each other and they will find their way together. I recommend this book for readers interested in history, but realize that the pace of the book combined with the uncertainty of a HFN may leave some readers uninspired.
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