Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Brett has spent twenty-seven years trying to be perfect for the Mormon grandparents who raised him. Unfortunately, doing so has meant missing out on lots of life experiences—and denying a major part of who he is. Now that his grandparents are gone, Brett is ready to make up for lost time, break out of the sedate façade he’s always presented, and do something he would have never considered before: attend a gay men’s spiritual retreat in rural Massachusetts.
While trying to infuse some spice into his life with workshops like Erotic Massage, Body Painting, and Drag 101, Brett meets Boston nurse Karl, and it’s hard to deny the connection between them. But will Brett’s lack of experience and Karl’s insecurities end their romance before it can really begin?
It might be a spiritual retreat, but Brett must learn to embrace his physical reality if he’s going to grab on to his chance at love.
Mild to Wild in Massachusetts introduced me to author Paul Walkingsky. After finishing this story, I want to know more about this author and read more of his writings. From the little I could find, this might be his first story. If so, its a good one.
I’m unfamiliar with growing up Mormon or life in Utah, or gay Mormon in Utah so when I say that Brett came off as a much older person at first, I’m not sure if that’s due to his religious upbringing or his mental framework but I was surprised to find out that he was only 27 not say 47 from the manner in which he was talking about himself, his clothing, and his lack of sex life. There was a slight disconnect at first from his character and I’m at a loss to say why. But then all of a sudden the story snaps together when Brett comes into some money and makes a decision to go to a gay men’s retreat in Massachusetts. For Brett, that’s like going to Oz….plane ride, exotic place…its so far out of his comfort zone..its truly the land of Dorothy.
But what pours out of this story is so much kindness and heart. To Brett from strangers on the plane as they see his rawness and apprehension even while appreciating his humor and intelligence. And from Brett as he widens his outlook on people and starts realizing that maybe he had been more judgmental about himself and his life than he had thought. Then he lands in the retreat and really begins a journey of exploration. From erotic massage to Drag Queen 101 to art therapy, we take the journey with Brett, meet all the instructors and fellow explorers and potential love interest Karl. Its slow, lovely, and so heartwarming that you melt as Brett finds himself opening up, expanding as a person, finding acceptance as a gay man within himself. Ah, lightning bugs always you bring magic!
There is a romantic component to this story but its not exactly a romance, unless its getting Brett to love himself and accept who he is, something he is unable to do at the beginning of the story.
Yes, there is Karl and at the end there’s a wonderful moment there for them. But this story ends before Brett leaves the retreat. It marks the end of just one section of an important path but just the beginning of his long journey. I really hope that Paul Walkingsky picks up Brett’s story and takes it forward. I want to know what happens next. And how about his uncle? There are so many wonderful characters here to pull from for more future stories. I’d like this author to tell them all.
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning. I think its cute and appropriate for the characters.
ebook, 74 pages
Expected publication: April 12th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635333962 (ISBN13: 9781635333961)
SeriesStates of Love settingMassachusetts (United States)