Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Davo’s a pretty average guy. He has a decent job, owns his own home, and spends his weekends at the pub. He fully accepts that he’s gay, but doesn’t want to be one of those gays, who are femme and girly. He likes football and other masculine pursuits, and firmly avoids anything that could be seen as femme—including relationships that last beyond fifteen minutes.
Then Davo’s friend and gay idol not only gets a boyfriend, but also adopts a baby girl. Davo is seriously spooked and scuttles down to the pub in fright. That’s where he meets Lee, who is cute from her cherry-red hair, to her pretty little dress and pointy red shoes. Davo is charmed—but how is that possible? He’s gay. Isn’t he? Then Lee tells him he’s actually a guy—he just likes to wear women’s dresses occasionally. Thoroughly confused about an attraction that’s out of character for him, Davo begins the long journey to where he can accept himself without caring what everyone else thinks.
I found Renae Kaye through her novel The Shearing Gun (which I loved) but the the stories that followed captivated me just as fully. Whether it was Safe In His Arms, The Blinding Light or the hilarious Shawn’s Law, in each Renae Kaye continued to address serious issues such as sexual abuse, PSTD, and physical disabilities while framing them within a loving, realistic romance. Her characters were just that smidge outside the norm that you felt like you hadn’t read about them before, and the locations in Australia, often Melbourne, made her stories fresh and unknown (at least to this American’s eyes). Now comes, You Are The Reason, and everything I love about Renae Kaye’s writing and storytelling abilities is showcased here once again.
Two of the serious elements here, cross dressing and the shameful impact of bullying, are dealt with the author’s typical sensitivity and knowledgeability. I love that Kaye brings the two elements together in such a gentle disarming way instead of the hate filled clash we normally see. Davo’s past history isn’t really hinted at in the blurb and the reality we find here isn’t pretty. Why Davo thinks and acts the way he does (anti fem all the way) is a past that is given out in bits and pieces to begin with. As Davo starts to break down why he thinks and reacts the ways he does now , more and more information starts to flow about the past events that caused it. I think this is a terrific way of plotting the story to help the reader really see the impact of childhood events upon the adult man. And who’s helping him with this makeover?
That would be Lee, a man who challenges Davo’s idea of what being a “ok gay” means, even the idea of what is male. Lee likes to cross dress and is great at it, its part of who he is. In order to accept Lee, all of Lee, something Davo wants desperately, he must first address what the bullying and fear has done to his self image and notions of acceptable homosexuality. Its quite the journey in Renae Kaye’s hands and I loved every sentence and paragraph.
Lee is such a strong character,yet his frailties lurk there for all of us to see. Lee and Davo have layers to their personalities, as well as a depth that makes them surprising in places in the story where we might expect otherwise. Back to help Lee and Davo are Jake Manning and Patrick Stanford from The Blinding Light. They play a major part here in this story. I didn’t think it possible but I like them even better as an established couple coping with new parenthood and all the joys and issues that arrive with a new baby. That scene with the poopy diaper from hell is hilarious!
I noticed that Renae Kaye is calling You Are the Reason, a story from The Tav. That’s The Coolgardie Tavern or The Gardie Tav is a bar owned by Charlie Lombardo. Why The Tav? From author Ranae Kaye:
Because this little pub seems to be the place to fall in love, and it definitely has more stories to tell.
Well, be still my heart. Already we have had The Blinding Light (The Tav #1). Now this I can only hope that The Tav has a ton more stories to tell. I’m going to pull up a bar stool and wait. Join me.
I highly recommend this story and this author. Love contemporary M/M romance that makes you think, laugh, and wave that fan over the heat of the couples inside? Want to fall in love so deeply that you will forget that these men can’t be found walking the streets in Australia? Pick up You Are The Reason and discover why Renae Kaye is a must read/auto buy for me and so many others.
Cover artist: Bree Archer. Its a nice cover but it is so generic it could be for any contemporary M/M romance. In that respect, its disappointing.
ebook, 226 pages, also in paperback
Published August 7th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
seriesThe Tav #2