Monday, August 24, 2009

Cultivating Love by Addison Albright

TITLE: Cultivating Love
AUTHOR: Addison Albright
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 33k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.99

The death of the father Ed Jamison had always believed was dead anyway turns his life around. All of a sudden, he owns a farm, but the only person he knows who could run it is the man he’s been sharing his life with the past few years. Joe Durham accepts the offer, but their change in work arrangements isn’t the only one they have to face. Now, they have to learn how to open up to the other, in a community a little less friendly to gay couples than Omaha, without losing the future each wants with the other…

There is one aspect of this quiet contemporary novella that I have to give it credit for. In what often feels like a sea of emo m/m romances, the author has made a valiant effort to write about two men who are absolutely not comfortable with displaying emotions or weakness. Joe and Ed are both macho men, more comfortable working with their hands than anything else. They haven’t even admitted to each other that they like to bottom for the other. But while the author tries to show this progression of their relationship, it – and the story – never really worked for me.

My biggest problem stems from how interchangeable both Joe and Ed are to me. The beginning opens up with little explanation, straight into Ed’s reaction of finding out about his father’s death. I don’t know these men, and the feeling that I’m expected to was prevalent enough to send me back to the publisher’s website after finishing the first chapter to find out if I’d inadvertently purchased a sequel. I never got a sense of clear personality from either of them until well over halfway through, and by that point, so much had transpired that the emotional impacts were completely gone for me. There is nothing distinctive in either the characterization or the author’s voice to aid the differentiation of the two leads. Both like the same things when it comes to sex. Both are more physical than cerebral. Both are reticent to express emotions. The list goes on. Without recognizing them as individuals, I can’t invest in anything that happens to them.

The bits of drama that are injected into the plot always felt glossed over, as well, though that could very well be my difficulty finding any sense of individualism in the men for so much of the story. While the novella is relatively clean editorially, it still took me much longer to read than a usual story of this length. I suspect this author’s voice is just not for me.


6/10 – Though relatively clean editorially, the author’s voice does nothing for me, and the interchangeable characters don’t help

Hero #1

4/10 – I found it very difficult to differentiate between them for over half the story

Hero #2

4/10 – Though I appreciated the attempt to create emotionally reserved gay men, I was never able to care about either one of them.

Entertainment value

3/10 – I never engaged, and thus spent most of the story bored out of my mind.

World building

7/10 – The farming world felt authentic.



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