Title: Closets are for Clothes (Dream On #1)
Author: Addison Albright
Publisher: JMS Books
Release Date: February 24, 2018
Page Count: 120
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Mike’s life is carefully compartmentalized. He’s deep in the closet to his family back in Kansas, but lives life honestly and openly in Austin. He’s unnerved when Wes, his old university crush, turns up at his door in answer to a roommate advertisement, but quickly sees the potential…benefits of the arrangement. Wes has never doubted nor denied his sexuality. With the support of his family he’s an out and proud LGBT activist.
On the scale balancing his self-esteem on one side, and the love of his family on the other, Mike has to decide which weighs more. Is Mike being fair to his parents by not giving them the chance to know his real self? When the delicate balance of his life is disrupted, he decides he’s tired of living a lie. Will Wes understand his concerns, or will their fledgling relationship crumble under the strain of Mike’s uncertainty?
NOTE: Closets Are for Clothes is a from-the-ground-up comprehensively rewritten and reedited version of A Dream Come True (published by Addison at Torquere Press in February, 2009). While the theme of the original story is the same, and many important scenes will be recognizable, the way the characters deal with important events is handled differently than in the original story and much of the story’s backdrop and side characters have changed. Beyond converting the story from an alternating 3rd-person POV to being told entirely from Mike’s 1st-person POV, this is a significantly changed retelling of the story. (less)
For me, this was a quick and uneventful read. The book revolves around Mike – single, gay, and living in Austin. His roommate Amber has moved out and Mike has been interviewing potential roommates so he can keep his two bedroom apartment. Mike is floored when he finds Wes standing at his door, having met the pre-med Student previously at college, knowing Wes is out and Proud in his sexuality, and also hailing from Mike’s hometown. Mike and Wes find they have more in common than a need for shared rent. But when Mikes brother Greg drops in unexpectedly and announces he’s getting married, Mike finds he’s not as far out of the closet as he thought he was, especially when it comes to his family.
I felt this wasn’t so much a romance as a talk-through on the angst, apprehension, and concerns of someone coming out to his family. Mike seems to spend most of the story building up worse case scenarios in his head, then finding when the events does transpire, it wasn’t as dreadful as anticipated.
It first starts with his brother Greg coming for a surprise visit a week after Wes moved in. Mike owns up to his sexuality and that Wes has become more than a roomie. Greg takes it in stride and they tell sister Helen. High-fives all around as Greg and Helen declare “I told you so’s!”.
Helen and Greg then arrange for Mike to tell their Parents two weeks later. Understandably, more anxiety and apprehension, starting from the phone call to arrange a visit home, to the plane ride, to the big reveal. Parents are told, Father is enigmatic and hard to read. White elephants are left lurking and all in all, it’s rather anti-climatic.
In between these moments of revelation and family understanding, Mike is confronted with small challenges and further angst – a bigot on a flight, a cousin saying homophobic stuff about male nurses, to kiss or not to kiss Wes in front of his parents.
Ultimately, while competently written, this really wasn’t a romance but a story about someone struggling with their own mental assumptions about themselves and others. It’s a story about coming out to family and to oneself. In this story, everything is good, which is nice to read but understanding that for many others, reality is a lot more brutal which is alluded to in Mike’s family dynamics.
And be warned – it does end with a small cliffhanger.