Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Emerson Robinette has MS. He also has a huge case of chip-on-shoulder and another of social anxiety. Ever since his diagnosis, he’s limited himself to being only in safe situations, or situations he perceives as safe and follows his rules—only pick up guys on days his legs don’t tingle; don’t let his dominant side out for fear of failure; don’t make friends so they won’t be disappointed in him; and so on.
He teaches ESL and GED prep classes at a community center and loves his job. Though he never intended to be a teacher, he pretty much just fell into it. He happens to meet a hipster named Obie on a bus ride home one day. Obie is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, dresses the way he feels, and seems to be attracted to Emerson. The only problem? When Emerson gets off the bus, he has to use his cane and he notices that Obie notices so he figures that’s the end of that hope.
One thing about Emerson that we come to see as we read the story is that he just can’t muster up the courage to be positive about anything. He so afraid of losing hope that he refuses to have it in the first place. He’s isolated himself without even realizing it, and he refuses to let in the people who genuinely care about him: his GED class members, his boss, and most definitely, Obie. But Obie doesn’t allow Emerson to wallow in his own depression. Little by little, he chips away at that façade until he exposes the real Emerson, the young man who has hopes and dreams and the one Obie is falling for.
Obie also introduces Emerson to Dred, his best friend. Dred is biracial, very pregnant, and a single parent, having been deserted by the baby’s father as soon as he found out she was pregnant. Dred is another person who slowly chips away at Emerson’s isolation. If any character ever needed to change, it’s Emerson. At first, I found him to be so abrasive that I wasn’t sure I could enjoy the story. However, by about the 25% mark, I was intrigued.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style and liked the parenthetical, often self-deprecating or snarky, comments that punctuated much of Emerson’s thoughts. The parallels drawn between Dred’s pregnancy and Emerson’s MS were spot-on, and Obie was not just the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—he was the rainbow.
I recommend this story to those who love an MM romance with and anti-hero—someone you may hate at the beginning and love by the end—and those who love stories of overcoming disabilities, friends as family, and those who simply want to read something different and interesting.
The cover art by L.C. Chase shows a close-up of a bearded, good-looking young man against a bright purple background. The use of color makes this an attractive cover.
Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon
ebook, 226 pages
Published July 11th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published July 10th 2016)
Original TitleGays of Our Lives
ISBN 1626494258 (ISBN13: 9781626494251)
SeriesQueers of La Vista #1