Title: Mascara & Bandages (Mary’s Boys #3)
Author: Brandon Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 12, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 121
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Ariel Merman is a new drag queen who’s already finding a family at Hamburger Mary’s. After a performance as Ariel, Zachary Cooper walks home in his makeup and is assaulted by homophobes. Zachary’s worry that the attack has thrown a wrench in his good fortune is eased when he looks into the eyes of his doctor.
Dr. Teegan Chau is a little lost after divorcing his wife and coming out of the closet, but he can’t deny the pull he feels toward the young man he patches up. Luckily, Zachary takes the initiative and asks Teegan out. But attraction is the easy part of their blossoming relationship—as they deal with an ex-wife and child, being a drag queen in a heteronormative culture, Zachary’s lingering trauma from his attack, and Teegan acclimating to life as part of an out-and-proud gay couple.
The challenges seem daunting at the start of a romance. Can Zachary and Teegan make it through the rough patches and take a chance on the love that’s been missing from both their lives?
We last met Ariel Merman at Hamburger Mary’s being all kinds of fabulous with her drag mother ManDonna. Ariel is the very definition of a “fishy drag queen” (a drag queen with an extremely feminine appearance) and when Zachary is Ariel, it’s not like Ariel is taking control, but rather she sets Zachary free. Ariel lets Zachary forget the loneliness, the fear, the insecurity, but when the show is done:
All of it swept back through, washing Ariel away and leaving Zachary cold on the barstool. Just a skinny, femme man, wearing makeup and a dress.
It’s all the more heartbreaking when Zachary is assaulted on the way home and is severely beaten. At the hospital his doctor Teegan Chau protectively watches over Zachary, unable to stop his anger at the assault or his guilt for appearing straight and not being as easily victimized. The two men slowly begin a relationship during which each addresses expectations – expectations placed upon them by family and society as well as personal expectations of masculinity.
You think you’re too femme for another man to want you. That because you do drag and are skinny that you’re weak. You and ManDonna are some of the strongest men I know.
I love how this series keeps us in touch with the family at Hamburger Mary’s – Cody, Steven and Pat, Vashin and Marlon (and they really are a close-knit family) and we get to see how that family deals with prejudice, homophobia, gay-bashing, self worth issues, societal expectations. I was really touched by Zachary’s story and feel it’s the most heartfelt of the series (so far). 4.5 stars.