Reviewed by Elizabetta
AUTHOR: Jaidon Wells
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press
BLURB: Andrew is a little overwhelmed, between grad school, his bookstore job, crazy friends, and a roommate slowly turning criminal. The very last thing he needs is more stress, but it’s what he gets anyway, in the form of Cassidy, the frustrating, intriguing, and supposed-to-be-dead brother of his law-breaking roommate.
Throw in a flamboyant campus hero, a series of kitchen fires, a slanderous romance manuscript, stoner music shops, an arguably-mad scientist, a terrible indie band, and a blue period, and Andrew realizes that being overwhelmed is easy. It’s the rapidly spinning out of control that’s a bit difficult to handle.
This was quite the different read and hard to categorize. As the blurb states, there is a little bit of everything thrown in, but it’s based around the zippy character sketches the author sets up. It reminds me of a “Friends” episode in that there are a lot of attractive people talking, hanging out at coffee shops and bars and such, but nothing much really happens. At least not for a long time. This is not so much a romance as it is about quirky characters acting… quirky. So the charm is dependent on those characters pulling off a likable wackiness, and the nothing much else that isn’t happening needs to be entertaining at the very least. Luckily, the author does deliver some laugh out loud moments.
In the “straight”-man role is Andrew (Ross?), a gay uni graduate student (of British extraction) studying somewhere in the US. So, Andrew is set-up as a bit of an awkward foil for his friend’s looniness (yeah, Ross). For someone who doesn’t make friends easily, as stated by said friends, he has a lot of people swirling about him, greatly concerned and interested in his romantic life. Or, the absence of one. At the top of the list are girl friends, Channary and Tansy.
(A tangent… Suffice it to say, it seems that in slash romance, the girl friend of the gay guy is a hugely difficult character to write… So often they are just plain hard to like or annoying, and they usually serve as nothing more than to make a romantic partnership happen. I go back and forth with Andrew’s female BFF’s. I think they mean well but after a while, I just wish they’d go away.)
The claim by Channary (or was it Tansy?) is that Andrew is too surly to find a boyfriend. They have a point, but maybe it’s because he spends an inordinate amount of time never getting his work done because he’s running after his friends, cleaning up their messes, and indulging their demands. It’s no wonder a boy hasn’t a moment for himself; he is long-suffering (I counted 45 sighs). But, I heartily swear that when Cassidy (a graduate student in music; these names are Confusing), in all his snarky, stalking/wooing, self-assuredness, sets his eyes firmly on Andrew… I just want them together, and all the crazy friends to take a back seat. Just when you think it’s going to happen, something interferes.
I have other issues: the main characters have got to be around their mid-twenties (they’re grad students), they certainly speak as if they are, but they act and interact like teen-agers. Secondly, the story starts off as one thing… a festival of witty repartee and awkward flirtation between Andrew and Cassidy that morphs into a paranormal pseudo-crime story. At one point in the story, Andrew is assaulted and a mysterious masked, winged, in flight, “Dandy Boy” superhero comes to his rescue.
At the start, I had high hopes for Andrew and Cassidy, it was fun to watch their verbal sparring and posturing. But it went on forever and got diluted with too much other stuff. Also confusing— while there are adult themes that include depiction of alcohol and drug abuse, there is no on-page sex. I enjoyed the beginning of the story, but the UST vibe became compromised by the PNR twist, and it fell apart for me. This is apparently a debut book and I greatly appreciate the author’s effort here and do think he shows promise. If you’re looking for paranormal zaniness with a touch of romance and can ignore all the rest, this may just be for you.
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