Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Boys of Summer by Cooper Davis

TITLE: Boys of Summer
AUTHOR: Cooper Davis
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $3.50

Hunter Willis is on the brink of discovering the depth of his feelings for his secret lover, and coming out in order to keep him…

NOTE: This is a review originally written for Uniquely Pleasurable.

There is something inherently sweet in this short novella, an appealing innocence that surprised me at how effectively it conjured up emotions. Hunter Willis is a carpenter, a blue collar guy’s guy who has always considered himself straight as an arrow. Through a girl he is dating, he meets Max, a gorgeous stock trader, and his world is immediately turned on its axis. This is all backstory to the events of the novella, however. When this opens, Max and Hunter have already been sexually involved in secret for a little while, with Hunter sneaking out of Max’s apartment every morning before sunrise in order to keep up the fa├žade. They are on vacation in Florida, just to get away, and Hunter is debating fully committing to Max. That will mean coming out, being a couple in public as well as private, and Hunter wavers on just whether or not he can do it.

The story is not only told in 1st person from Hunter’s perspective, but also present tense, an unusual choice for the m/m market. Surprisingly, it really works to the story’s advantage. It lends an urgency to Hunter’s emotions that might not be there if it was told in past tense. I got swept up into his anxiety, his lust, and his love, as he battled for control over his feelings. He’s very likable, and more importantly, relatable, as he struggles to figure out if he has the fortitude to be with Max in public. Max’s personality is far more flirtatious and confident, at least as it’s seen through Hunter’s eyes which in all fairness are very rose-colored. It makes it easy to discern the characterizations and appreciate each man for his individuality.

What holds me back a little from absolutely loving the story, however, is how it all feels very feminine. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why. The prose is elegant, albeit a tad on the terse side, and I never feel slapped in the face with the thought, “Boy, do they act like a bunch of girls.” Yet, when the story was over, that sense lingered. I wonder if it has to do with how romantic the entire thing feels. There is no external conflict. This is all about Hunter coming to grip with his feelings and then acting on them, and those are written convincingly. Add in the fact that overthinking emotional commitments tends to be a feminine trait, and I think I might start understanding why I reacted like that. It doesn’t make it a bad story, not in the slightest. I really liked both men, even though Hunter is far more fully realized than Max due to the choice of perspective. No, it’s very much a sweet romance, finding its mark straight to the heart.

Readability

9/10 – Sweet, urgent, and highly romantic

Hero #1

7/10 – Likable in his uncertainty, easy to get swept up into his angst

Hero #2

7/10 – Likable for different reasons, though I kept wanting more

Entertainment value

8/10 – I got swept up in the urgency of the highly romantic presentation

World building

5/10 – The focus is on the emotions, not the environment

TOTAL:

36/50

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