Title: Shake the Stars
Author: V.L. Locey
Publisher: Gone Writing Publishing
Release Date: July 10th 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 100,000 words approx.
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Spending time in the Poconos with his family was the last thing Dane Forrester wanted to do over the summer. He had dreams of spending his last break touring Europe and gathering story ideas for his upcoming creative writing classes before heading to college. Maybe even finding that elusive first love in a small café in Paris, or along the Rhine, or even in a sultry villa in Italy. But no, he was stuck at the Silver Fir Lodge with his family where his dreams of romance and passion would wither and die a slow painful death, or so he imagined.
When all seemed lost, the budding wordsmith is saved—in more than one sense—by Khalid Novak, a lifeguard at the lodge’s pool. Khalid is two years older, a bit more sophisticated, and the most incredibly alluring thing Dane has ever seen. The two young men find themselves joyously wound in a searing romance that teaches Dane that love can be wildly intense yet fleeting so one should revel in it when the discovery is made.
Can this summer romance survive the chill of autumn as well as the winds of time?
Probably habitually, I so often egregiously shift into excessive verbal erudition, that I even had to swear off speaking to myself! Nonetheless, discussing Shake the Stars, this beautiful and satisfying novel, once again induces me to start my criticism-review with an intellectual aside.
So! A musical tone poem usually is a symphonic piece which, through the use of instrumental sounds, abstractly attempts to represent or generate the “feeling” of a particular story, image, or mood. A literary tone poem or fictional piece employs the writer’s words to convey an attitude toward its subject, material and/or audience. It’s the emotional meaning or the emotional coloring of those words driving the reader into focus with the atmosphere or mood the literary tone creates.
And through the fine use of shifting emotion and coloration, V L Locey has produced Shake the Stars. The story’s texture is so well constructed as to reflect what is currently happening, that it almost lost me at the beginning, when that coloration is lightly reflexive of the meeting of our not-quite fully matured heroes. They’re at a Poconos resort. While the time and place bring to mind Dirty Dancing, the tone and repartee do more – fearlessly making specific reference to that film. [“I swear if there is a sexy dance instructor and some girl named Baby at this lodge . . .”] The opening writing is appropriately exuberant, youthful and questioning of the main characters’ circumstances. The reader’s first impression may well be of diving into an only moderately successful pot boiler, but this is merely the well-crafted introductory tone of this lyrical novel.
Having well-introduced Khalid and Dane, the author then delves into their background stories, their growing emotional and physical relationship (Hooray for lots of hot, new, young sex!) and the pointed life difficulties they are facing. Not to abuse my musical trope, but the novel’s “opening movement” is laced with several important light motifs, such as Khalid’s modern interpretation of his religion, or the symbolism of Dane’s various phobias, as to all of which future references will be made.
Just about as we become inured to the idiosyncracies of our main characters, and those of their well-drawn family members, there is a total change in the very sound and feeling of the story. We find ourselves in the next “movement,” in which the location has changed, our people have matured and face different issues, and the author’s pace and language evolves to reflect this.
Finally, the novel’s superb construction flows into the coda and our desired HEA. Again, the language changes in tone to match our place in the main characters’ lives.
Ms. Locey’s phraseology is absolutely grand, changing tone to match the novel’s ebb and flow. Here, taste some:
Ex. 1 – “This lodge was my great aunt Bitty only draftier.”
Ex. 2 – “Is this lodge filled with nothing but middle-class, white, suburban Catholics who are trying to appear to be upper-class, Manhattan Jews?” Ex. 3 – “Desire . . . made them feel hot inside, like an oven on low.” One more, Ex. 4 – “Curiosity and rudeness are twin stones on the same tiara.” There as so many more delicious bites to ingest.
Of course, oddities do occur. It took me several moments to parse: “Khalid’s pants were as loud as mine.” – before realizing it was not a fashion comment!
Sticking to my trope, I’m aware that my temptation to voraciously provide you with quotes from Shake the Stars, is the equivalence of my humming various themes from a musical piece to intrigue a potential listener.
Don’t listen to me hum! Run out and read this marvelous work for yourself!