Rating: 3 stars
Seven years ago, as Nathan Rey was getting ready for his graduation from medical school, he asked his long term boyfriend for a promise. Nathan wanted Fitz, over the top, charismatic love of his life, to be there in the audience as he received his diploma and Fitz promised. But Fitz broke that promise and Nathan’s heart too by disappearing completely from Nathan’s life without a word or message to explain what happened.
Now it’s Dr. Nathan Rey and Nathan has a successful practice but not much else. He remains haunted by the memory of the man who left him alone, unable to move forward into new relationships other than those of friendship. When Nathan’s part-time nurse elopes, he needs a replacement immediately and turns to a temp agency for help. When the agency sends a replacement, Nathan is ill prepared for the person standing before him in scrubs ready to go to work. It’s Fitz, his lover from the past who now seems prepared to step back into Nathan’s life in every way, if only Nathan will let him. Will Nathan be able to let go of their past and accept the only man he has ever loved back into his life or will his pride make him refuse his second chance at love?
I am not really a fan of short stories and It Takes Practice is a perfect example why. I am a huge fan of Willa Okati’s stories. Her characters are always multidimensional, complete with flaws and idiosyncrasies. Okati takes the time to build up their back stories so that when the characters come together, the reader has a very good idea of who these men are and what brought them to this point in their lives. It all makes sense, so much so that the reader buys completely into whatever story Willa Okati is trying to tell. It doesn’t matter the age or the professions or history. We get it and we understand why the men fall for each other. And for me, none of that applies here.
At 59 pages, It Takes Practice comes across more as flash fiction or odds and ends of a much larger story than a work that should stand on its own. We get the merest glimpse of Nathan and Fitz’s former lives of seven years ago, nothing to tell us about any chaos in their lives, either arguments or behavior that would make sense of his disappearance. Certainly nothing that backs up his explanation when he reappears. We definitely required more of their back history before jumping forward into the present.
Once we arrived at the present, again we only get a day or so in the lives of the characters. We see briefly what Nathan’s life has become and then, presto, Fitz is back. We watch them interact for another day, they resolve their differences and then the epilogue. And the epilogue? It occurs the day after the reunion sex takes place. Not much of an epilogue really in the sense of bringing closure, more of a couple of add on paragraphs. The whole story just feels so unfinished, as though it was cobbled together from pages written for an incomplete book. I can’t quite fathom that this came from the same author who gave us And Call Us In The Morning or Open Cover Before Striking, two books with astonishingly original characters and plots. And again I believe the problems I found in this story can be traced back to the short length, Had this book been longer in length, I think that all my issues with it would have disappeared.
So if you are a fan of lovers reunited or Willa Okati’s stories, then this is a quick read and you might want to pick this up. But if you have never read Willa Okati’s work before, please don’t start here. Start with two of the books I mentioned above or look through her impressive library of titles, I know you will find something to love as I did when I first found her.
Cover art by Posh Gosh, lovely man but the only thing that makes this relevant is the necklace around his neck.
ebook, 59 pages
Published March 25th 2013 by Total E-Bound