Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Actually, it was just the opposite.
This book is actually a re-edited and combined version of three short stories previously published in 2010. I did not read the originals, but for the most part this works as a single book. The initial story arc of Matt and Lane does feel a bit separate from the rest (some editing to smooth the transition would have been a good idea), but it is important to know about them to read Sebastian’s story.
The city of New Orleans is not merely a setting, but integral to all three main characters’ personality and actions, especially Sebastian, who is in his 70s when he is first introduced. They may have all left the city at some point, but they always came back. The French Quarter is at the heart of their lives, and shaped their stories.
The first quarter of the book is essentially all about Matt and Lane. Childhood friends who became close as brothers as they faced down Matt’s abusive father who kicked him out when he discovered Matt was gay. Roommates in college who watched each other as Matt slept around and Lane saved himself for “the one”. In the 5 years they lived together, neither man ever admitted to the other that he was in love – they both had their own reasons for feeling “not good enough” – and after one glorious night, Matt moved away to California. Now, let me just say that I get so frustrated with that overdone trope, but I guess it’s expedient when you are trying to put a lot of angst into a short story. Hurricane Katrina provided the catalyst to get Matt and Lane back together, and at least then they spoke honestly to each other, and of course they were both single, still in love, soul mates, yadda yadda, and now happily together.
And to me, that is when the real story started. Two years after Katrina, New Orleans is still rebuilding, recovering, returning to its previous vibrant self. Matt and Lane are still happy together living in the slave quarters behind the courtyard of Sebastian’s French Quarter house. Matt is still working as a journalist, and has decided to make a documentary of sorts about gay men in New Orleans history through the life and times of Sebastian. He is such a character! Sebastian is definitely a queen, flamboyant, but sophisticated and intelligent. He spent his early adulthood with the artistic (and very gay friendly) denizens of the city, along with all the hedonism you’d expect from the Big Easy, but was also an astute businessman who became wealthy, and one of the gay elite of the French Quarter. He had his share of disappointments and tragedies too, including the death of his long time lover from AIDS. I loved his voice – the words he used, the way he told a story, how elegant he was even while being catty! It was so easy to imagine what he looked like, sounded like, and even how he moved. Sebastian was perfectly happy to make the documentary because he felt his life was essentially over, that he was just waiting until the end, when he could pass the torch on to the next generation of gay men.
And then he met Raymond. Another elderly man, gay, also bereaved, who convinced Sebastian that even in his 70s, there were still adventures to be had, life to be lived, and love to be made. That it is never too late to have a happy ending. Their affair might seem a little saccharine to some, but I just adored it. There wasn’t much angst for them, but I think their romance was in many ways more open, more honest than it would have been if they had met when they were younger. Though Matt and Lane are constants in Sebastian’s life – they essentially became his sons and stayed with him in his adventures step by step – this book is primarily about Sebastian. And it is lovely.
Cover art by Angsty G is a good representation of Lane and Matt, but where was Sebastian??? Gotta admit, I was disappointed by that oversight…
ebook, 2nd Edition, 246 pages
Published July 17th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press