Title: Something to Believe In
Author: Sloan Parker
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 18k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Rentboy, Homeless, Throwaways, Christmas, Acceptance, Family
Rating: Really Liked It!
Reviewed by Sadonna
Two young, homeless men fall in love and search for a way to stay off the streets and build a life together.
After running away from the hatred and abuse of their teen years, Sean and Gavin have been hustling to survive for too long now. When some extra cash lands them alone in a hotel room until Christmas, they can no longer deny their feelings for each other. Now neither one can imagine watching the other walk off with one more trick. Even with no money and no job prospects, Sean is determined to not just show Gavin what a real home and holiday is like, but to keep them off the streets for good and build a life together.
The opening of this story is unfortunately something that far too many young LGBT youth have to deal with – the rejection of their parents and being on their own. Sean has been on his own for three years at the beginning of this book and he has recently lost his job and become homeless. He’s had to resort to what he never wanted to do – sell himself for money just to be able to eat. It’s Christmas Eve and he ends up at shelter that has no beds for the night, but he at least gets a dinner and eats for the first time in a few days. While there he sees another young guy about his age and while they don’t speak, they definitely have a conversation.
As Sean is about to succumb to numbing himself to both the physical and emotional pain he is in, he is warned off by the guy from the homeless shelter. This young man warns him off another possible disaster and takes him to an abandoned warehouse for the night. The warehouse is full of other homeless and is not by an stretch a safe place, but it’s out of the snow and the other guy, Gavin, suggests that they take turns sleeping and keeping watch. For some reason, Sean trusts him and gets some sleep in a relatively warm place.
The next year at Christmas time, Gavin and Sean are still together protecting each other. Sean realizes that his feelings for Gavin are more than friendship, but he’s very afraid of doing something that will push him away. Gavin has been gone on a trick for a week and Sean is petrified that he won’t come back. He’s also just gotten some very good news and he’s been working with a social worker who is helping him prepare to get off the streets. When Gavin does return with a pocketful of money, they decide to get a hotel room for a few days and just enjoy themselves for a bit. Sean gives in even though he thinks they should save the money so they have something to build on. But he also wants to give Gavin a nice Christmas and Gavin tells Sean he just wants to make a good memory.
Sloan Parker is an amazing writer. Her work is beautiful and touching and emotional. If you haven’t read any of her books, I suggest you run out and do so! This is not an easy story to read. My heart just breaks for the many young people who are rejected by their families and have no safe place to land. The statistics are all too cruel. But while some of this story is harsh and scary, it is ultimately a beautiful story of a couple of these kids who find love. Sean and Gavin risk much to stay together and try to make a real life. They are not willing to give each other up and they just hope that they will be able to make it out of the life they are in someday. I fervently hope that everyone who reads this story will consider making a donation to a worthwhile organization that provides help to these kids in need.
Posted by Sadonna in 16-40k, 5 Really Like It, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: 2012 MLR Holiday Stories, Christmas, Family, Homeless, MLR Press, Rent Boy, Short Story, Sloan Parker, Teen Throwaways
Author: Mary Calmes
Length: 68,880 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Author Backlist Project, Mental Health Issues, Mob/Crime, Assassins, Sexy to the 999s, Tattoos, Family Issues, Teen Throwaways
Rating: Really Liked It
Trevan Bean has a job that’s going from illegal to frightening, a boyfriend who may not be in his right mind, and a guardian angel who might actually be evil incarnate. Add to that the reappearance of his boyfriend’s estranged family, death threats, kidnapping, and the struggle of saving money to realize a dream, and Trevan has a lot on his plate. But Trevan is up to the challenge: he promised Landry a happily ever after, and Landry’s going to have it if it kills him!
It just might.
Landry Carter was a broken doll when they met two years ago but has grown into a partner who can stand at Trevan’s side… most of the time. Now that Trevan’s life just got scary—and Landry just got himself kidnapped—Trevan has to hope Landry’s love stays strong through this newest challenge, because the happily ever after won’t happen if Trevan has to go it alone.
This is the second book of my Author Backlist Project for Mary Calmes and I’m so glad I chose this author first. I’ve always really liked her books in a past, but I’ve missed a few of them here and there, this one included. I actually had a few problems with this book, but one thing was done so absolutely well (the character development) that I just couldn’t give it less than a Really Liked It rating.
That, ultimately, is really what makes this story so incredibly special. Landry is most often seen as the fucked up guy in their relationship but Trevan has a lot of issues as well. But somehow, this author made these characters that so so messed up and also who sometimes aren’t exactly likable, accessible and understanding to us through their love for each other and in Trevan’s case a very strong moral compass (skewed according to convention, yes, but still unyielding). Trevan refers to them early in the story has completely codependent, but that it is okay because it works. That’s the truth. Landry is barely capable of making it through the day on his own, but Trevan needs to take care of him, needs the control in a way that is unique to him. I almost don’t even know how Mary Calmes pulled this off. Their relationship is so unusual, but so utterly charming at the same time and almost the whole story is devoted to the psychology of it all, but completely under the radar. So much so that by the end of the story I felt like the story had been about something totally different (the external plot) but that I knew these characters way better than I know most when I finish a book. That is to be commended.
I found it a little unfortunate that we don’t know Landry’s family better since the end of the book really has a lot to do with them, but then I understood it as well. The last 60% or so reminded me quite a bit of A Matter of Time and this whole story had a lot of Mary’s trademark zinging dialogue that I’ve grown to love. Ultimately, how you feel about this book depends on how you will feel about the relationship. I can’t say that I loved the characters, but I liked them a lot and respected the hell out of them. I felt a bit like there wasn’t a driving focus in the plot, and that’s why I say that how you feel about the relationship will affect how you feel about the book. There are two real sub-plots, Landry and his family and Trevan and his “job.” Maybe it is that I’m used to a traditional narrative that I’m finding this hazy, but ultimately it didn’t overly affect my enjoyment of the story and you have to give Mary Calmes props for this book.
These two books I’ve read, this one and last week’s book, Acrobat, are two of the best books this author has written in my opinion. Still, Acrobat takes the cake for my favorite. I liked this one a lot, but I didn’t love it.
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors A-C, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: assassins/mercs, Author Backlist Project - Mary Calmes, Cops/Crime, Dreamspinner Press, Family Issues, Mary Calmes, Mental Health, Sexy to the 999's, Tattoos, Teen Throwaways, The Mob