Rating: 4 stars out of 5
When Dane Bernard, a teacher at Summitville High School, gets a call from the police telling him that his wife has been killed in an accident, he’s devastated. He and Katy were married for twenty years, and were, in fact, high school sweethearts. Breaking the news to his children was difficult but not as difficult as what he decides to tell them after he’s had some time to come to terms with his wife’s death—he’s gay. And he chooses to tell them now because he’s going to go forward as a gay man out of the closet.
He has no idea how to be with a man, and when new teacher Seth Wolcott arrives at the school several months later, he finds himself attracted in a way he’s never before experienced. But before they even have a chance to get to know one another, and before Seth finds out Dane is gay, one of Dane’s students, a gay teen who has been the victim of school bullies one too many times, is spotted on the ledge at the top of the roof of the school and Dane is the only one outside who might possibly help him. He gets an unexpected assist from Seth and together they manage to get the boy down, but not before Dane shares that he’s gay—and he does it in front of the whole school.
Truman Reid is an effeminate gay teen. He has a wonderful sense of fashion and can put together innumerable outfits from thrift shop finds, but not a day goes by that the jocks and others in the school don’t bully him, laugh at him, trip him, and often beat him up. When he arrived at school that morning and discovered the main bulletin board covered in photos of him in drag, it was his last straw. People might say it gets better, but Truman didn’t think he could wait for that to happen, so he headed for the roof.
Dane and Seth volunteer to spend extra time with Truman to help his mother out. Dirt poor, she doesn’t have enough money to pay for counseling for him, but with the guys offering to act as big brothers, it helps her breathe easier. And after Truman turns the corner, he decides that no amount of hiding or wearing other clothes or acting butch is going to help him, so he takes the opposite stance and flaunts his flamboyance by wearing makeup, T-shirts with hand-printed slogans, and bright, colorful outfits he puts together from thrift shop finds. Though they initially worry about him, Seth and Dane back off when they see he’s doing well and they focus on enjoying their own budding relationship.
This is a sweet story, with the lives of the three men entwined, and lessons to be learned by all. No one—man or boy—is the teacher. Each contributes to the other so that they all take away positive life lessons. There’s no explicit sex, though there is mention of it, and no on-page sex for the underage character. It’s just a romantic story, a coming of age story for both Truman and Dane, though at least twenty-five years separate their age. And the romantic ending provides a happy situation for each of the three characters.
I’d recommend this to those who enjoy tags like coming out, older men, teens, men with children, and those who simply like a romantic story about real people because each of the situations in this story could have really happened to someone we know.
Cover Art by Reese Dante beautifully depicts the two adult MCs as we would imagine them to be.