Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
My dad always says if there aren’t zombies involved in a catastrophe, it’s not worth worrying about.
Larry Myers works tirelessly to get his doctorate. That means long hours and grueling shifts of sometimes seeing the worst possible things happen to people, especially on his rotation in the ER. Though he loves what he’s doing, it’s not exactly conducive to a relationship, so he often resorts to Grindr for a little destressing between the sheets.
One day he stumbles upon the picture of a man who captures him with his eyes. He takes the chance and writes to the guy named Brandon. What starts as an innocent way to get release quickly becomes more when the two manage to connect on a level that’s night normal for a hookup. But between their jobs, family, and some disagreeable friends, a relationship may be out of the picture, but maybe it’s worth a shot.
“He can’t take on the world,” Larry insisted. “But he’s the only one who’s ever tried to take on the world on my behalf.”
From the very moment I saw this prompt up for claim for this years Don’t Read in the Closet event (Love is an Open Road), I was incredibly excited. This screamed for the author to tell an honest story that didn’t disregard race or use it as some sort of ploy. When A.J. Thomas picked it up, my excitement grew. What I’ve read by her has been quite good, and I was looking forward to seeing what she could do with this.
She did not disappoint. She created this story of two men who are both very independent. Larry, a black man striving to be a doctor and dealing with his mother being in a nursing home, and Brandon, a man who is living in his father’s shadow at the software company he works for. They both felt so real to be… like two completely honest characters, down to some of the quirks of hooking up with a doctor (they may have to leave you midthrust when their pager goes off, whoops!)
It had dashes of humor and the right touch of seriousness. There were so many strong characters, such as Larry’s mom, who Larry didn’t give enough credit to but was a truly shining part of the story. Then you have Larry’s best friend (and ex-girlfriend) August who is a strong female and made me smile a few times.
I thoroughly enjoyed every word of it, and I would love to see A.J. Thomas write more about real black characters. Why? She didn’t ignore race. She brought it in perfectly without making it the focus of the story. It felt real, it was real. There needs to be more of those kinds of characters in M/M stories. Thank you for giving me one, A.J. If you happen to want to write more, well, I’m here to gobble it right up.
The cover art by A.J. Thomas is very simple. While it’s not the most design heavy, I’d prefer that from an author who doesn’t have experience in graphic design. She seemed to understand that and not try to make it into something it wasn’t, so I do appreciate that. It’s simple but not ugly.
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