Title: Out of the Shade
Author: S.A. McAuley
Publisher: S.A. McAuley, LLC
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Page Count: 368
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 4.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy–a cocky sports fan capable of drinking more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy–a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.
Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography–documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.
When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through–coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.
Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.
Reader Advisory: Out of the Shade is a standalone novel with an HEA that carries the following warnings–alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting
Saluting the quality of S. A. McAuley’s fine novel, this review will be short [?] and to the point – better to allow the reviewee to promptly get right into the book.
Our heroes, having reached their 30’s, are still works in progress. Jesse (“Sol”), a lonely man, is still trying to define his sexuality – whatever it may be. One obvious choice, he fears, will risk his important relationship to those around him whom he values and loves. Chuck, on the other hand, has long since come out in full force. Thumbing his nose at a deeply prejudiced family, he now proudly bears an attitude that anyone who can’t accept him as he can be damned! Despite the rapid changes we’d like to believe have occurred around us, Jesse and Chuck, seeming to occupy widely opposing positions on the “coming out” scale, are fair representations of current problems in 21st century America.
In the best sense, Out of the Shade is that grand soap opera that makes it really difficult to pause reading at the end of any chapter. It’s like an EKG, with repeated peaks and interim valleys and we are anxious to see the next one. The story is paced with both the joys and angst of intimate relationships, the jolting effect of unexpected plot twists, and the sorrows of disappointments. This review will not detail all the episodic ups-and-downs in our heroes’ lives, as they move to their expected HEA. [But note: A box of tissue is recommended to the sensitive reader!]
I need to close with one important criticism. Like the final installment of any good soap opera, this novel concludes with a reconciliation of all the open threads. Sadly, that closing goes on and on – like an unending musical coda, repeatedly resolving beautifully, only to build up, over and over, to yet another climax. Loved the novel: would have appreciated a sterner editor with a big pair of scissors.