Monday, March 22, 2010

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Lynn Lorenz

TITLE: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
AUTHOR: Lynn Lorenz
PUBLISHER: Amber Allure
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $5.00

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans isn’t the only thing struggling to survive. Nineteen-year-old Scott has been on his own for years, lives at a shelter, and works as a busboy/waiter in an attempt to keep his head above water. When he is mugged on the way to work, he gets rescued by Tony, another man fighting just to stay alive. The connection between them strikes deeper than the physical, but how can it work out when each day presents its own difficulties to overcome?

I have never been to New Orleans. I don’t have family in the south, and nobody I knew was affected by the devastating Hurricane Katrina. None of that matters when it comes to enjoying this heartwrenchingly different novella from author Lynn Lorenz.

Lorenz ignores traditional romance stereotypes to put two homeless men at the center of her moving story. Scott is a high school dropout, an orphan who survives by living in a shelter and working early morning shifts at a restaurant called Tiffany’s Waffles and Wings. Tony is the product of a prostitute mother who disappeared before the hurricane, squatting in a deserted part of the city, robbing people in order to have money to buy food. These two meet when Tony is contemplating mugging Scott, only to let him pass and then watch somebody else get the drop on the skinny young white boy. Tony intervenes, then takes Scott’s money for himself, but guilt overrides his needs, and he seeks Scott out again to return it.

This starts one of the more unusual m/m romances I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a while. Lorenz bypasses the maudlin and writes straight to the unrepentant core of these men’s situations. It’s never heavy-handed or overtly graphic, but there’s never any doubt about the tenuous circumstances these men navigate on a daily basis. Each is only trying to survive and hold on to what little self-respect they still have, and that, in and of itself, is honorable. Scott is the more fully fleshed of the two, with his sweet, deceptively innocent demeanor, but while Tony’s backstory is held back until almost the end of the story, there is still enough of a core there to respond positively to him. His greater physical strength conceals his inner struggles with self-identity and worth, and even is offered to tantalize the reader into falling for him.

The story’s brevity worked against Tony’s characterization in the long run, however, just like it weakened my commitment to believing the swiftness of their coming together. As much as I liked both guys, I didn’t wholly buy into just how fast Scott was willing to trust Tony. He’s not a stupid kid. He’s lived by his wits for a long time. I was taken a little aback at how quickly he was willing to forget all that for Tony. If I hadn’t liked both of them as much as I did, I probably would have been more cynical about the outcome (though the pragmatist in me still finds it very difficult to believe that two guys who struggle over every dollar would waste ten bucks on a box of condoms – yes, I know they’re responsible guys, and yes, I would prefer them to be safe, but come on, these are two guys who live dollar to dollar and boxes of condoms are not cheap).

These niggles aside, it’s hard to go wrong with this sensitively written novella. I’m not convinced these two will be together forever, but in this moment, at this point in their lives, I whole-heartedly believe they are exactly what the other needs. That’s all anyone can ever ask for.


8/10 – Simplistic, but heartbreaking

Hero #1

8/10 – Sweet and adorable

Hero #2

7/10 – His outer strength hides inner turmoil well

Entertainment value

8/10 – A slice of real life that proves romance doesn’t need fancy packages

World building

8/10 – Some great touches painting the underbelly of Katrina’s aftermath



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