Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Lionel and Dog are back in this follow-up to the Lambda finalist, Femme. Almost six months have passed and, after taking an online quiz, Lionel believes their relationship is doomed because they have nothing in common. To save their future together, the pair joins a gay bowling league and discovers that Lionel is an excellent, if somewhat eccentric, bowler.
Meanwhile, Dog gets profiled in a work newsletter. He’s excited that he’s out at work, but doesn’t immediately realize that by fawning over Dog’s masculine nature the writer was also putting down all femme guys. Lionel takes it personally, which leads the to a crisis in their relationship. Attempting to make it up to Lionel, Dog makes a grand gesture—which backfires spectacularly.
Will the two manage to put things right? And will a night in jail, a morning of drag bingo, an afternoon of day drinking, and a month of moping make things better or worse?
I just loved Femme, the first story that introduced us to Lionel and Dog, and their road to love and a relationship. I wish I just had this one to sail right into. If Lionel is the femme of Femme, than Dog is the masc of MASC. It’s so fitting that we now get Dog’s perspective in Masc (Femme #2) by Marshall Thornton as we pick up the timeline where Femme left off.
Well, we still get Lionel’s too. Happily, Marshall Thornton gives his readers this story from both Lionel and Dog’s points of view. But the focus is on Dog, the idea of a masculine “gay”, how that definition impacts Dog and others around him, including his relationship with the femme Lionel.
There are so many things about not only MASC but this series that stay with me.
Thornton has created a cast of characters, starting with Lionel and Dog that I have taken to heart. I fell in love with Lionel first, then Dog. Here Dog’s vulnerability really stands out. I keep thinking about Dog/Doug the person…yes, he seems somewhat naive in some respects, but I know people like that. That earnestness, need to want to help or fix things is “real” and believable. Which makes what comes later in the story even more heartbreaking. Because the author uses something that occurs in real life and applies it to Dog. And it’s not only extremely timely, it’s also upsetting and disturbing because the reactions are ones I’m sure others in his circumstances are receiving as well.
Trust this author to take this series and story and include such serious elements such as child abandonment (Lionel), parental loss, male gender roles, physical abuse, and sexual harassment into a story that includes sparkling dialog, glittering humor, heartwarming romance and love. That includes Dog’s entire family and Lionel’s family of friends…both of which collide when Lionel joins Dog’s bowling team with surprising results.
The only thing that keeps this from a five star rating (which it will get anyway because I will round up) is that it’s not a standalone story. MASC needs Femme to lean on just as Dog needs Lionel as his support. Not that their communication issues get resolved until later in the story. That also feels very real in a new couple. No, much of who these two are and how they came together rests in the first story (a must read anyway in my eyes).
I intend to go back and read them one right after the other for my pure enjoyment. Hopefully, this is not the last of Lionel and Dog. But even if it is, I’m so thrilled to have made their acquaintance. I want to go bowling with them, play bingo with them, and just spend more time with them. It’s time well spent in laughter, love, and maybe a few sniffles too. That’s life and this story is full of it. And characters who you will never want to let go.
Yes, I highly recommend them both.
Cover art: Marshall Thornton. Love the bowling shoes! Yes, they also make me think of the other pair not pictured!
Sales Links: Universal Buy Link
Kindle Edition, 217 pages
Published April 28th 2018 by Kenmore Books
Edition Language English
Series Femme #2