A MelanieM Review: Made in Manhattan (Made In #2) by Ana Newfolk


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Will they get a second chance to rekindle their love?

Isaac was kicked out by his family at a young age.
It took him years of hard work to become his own man. Now he’s helping the LGBTQ youth of Lisbon so they don’t have to go through the same.

Max has a long and troubled past.
An ER nurse in New York City who volunteers at the local Liberty center, he knows first hand what it’s like to lose your family and having to make it on your own.

A chance encounter between the two a year ago has them hoping for a happy ever after, if not for the distance between them, but when Isaac takes a temporary work placement in Manhattan, the two men have an opportunity to find what their love is made of.

Will they make it, or will life’s tests tear them apart for good?

Made In Manhattan is the second instalment in the Made In series by Ana Newfolk. It is a standalone gay romance novel with a HEA ending and no cliffhanger. Fair warning, there will be naked man-parts touching, a touch of angst, and the claws of an overprotective cat.

Made in Manhattan is 62k words and features the same main characters from Made In New York – A Christmas Short Story.
You don’t have to read it, but you may want to find out how Max and Isaac first met.

I first fell in love with this universe and characters with the first story in the series Made in Portugal.  And while the blurb and tours may indicate that this is a standalone story, imo, I don’t feel that is entirely true.  So many of the characters and foundation for this novel rests in the first story. You need that knowledge of who these people referenced here are, well as all the events,locations, and even youth centers visited.  These two stories are intimately connected as both couples and casts travel back and forth from Manhattan to Portugal repeatedly, mixing past storylines with this one, and even future ones in novels to come.  So yes, not a standalone.

However,Made in Manhattan (Made In #2) continues to enrich and layer this series universe being created by Ana Newfolk.  This time the couple is  Isaac and Max, two people we met in Made in Portugal.  Both are men who were tossed out of their families for being gay but with different results immediately afterward, the revelations of which will unfold here in this story.  We know Isaac’s having seen it happen in Made in Portugal.  That leaves Made In Manhattan to be Max’s story. His past history that returns, his turbulent romance with Isaac, and many other serious themes that run through this story.

In addition to a complicated romance, Ana Newfolk deals with issues of feelings of abandonment, domestic violence, homelessness, shelter living, even family court.  And the author does so with a realistic eye towards a system that doesn’t always work with the best interests of the child.  While that seems like a lot to fold into a story, it all works.  Especially when using two separate countries, as Portugal and the US, specifically Manhattan where the other “sister” LGBT youth center is located are linked, not just by the two operations but by families and couples.

While I was missing the lushness of the Portuguese countryside and culture that I got in the first story, the complexity and suspense built into Max’s story made up for that.  However it sounds like a return to Portugal is coming in the next novel.  And I can’t wait.

All of these people are slowly feeling like family and a return to the series means seeing them all once more as they all make appearances in each novel. Made in Manhattan (Made In #2) by Ana Newfolk is a warm hearted, sweet, layered contemporary romance, much like the one before.  I highly recommend them both.


Cover Artist: Rhys Athanasiadis-Lawrence, Ethereal Elaine.  love that cover.  Its exactly as I picture the characters and its eye catching to boot.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK


Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 221 pages
Published January 15th 2019
Edition Language English
Series Made In :

Made in Portugal

Made in Paris: A Christmas Short Story

Made in Manhattan

A MelanieM Review: Gage (Trenton Security #3) by J.M. Dabney


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

The forbidden is the sweetest lure.

Trenton Security’s Public Relations go-to was Hayden Gage. He loved his job, and it kept him distracted from the demons haunting his nightmares. His past wasn’t up for discussion, and Hayden wouldn’t allow it to intrude on his future. Yet, that was easier said than done when his best friend came to him desperate for help, and it put him right on the path to his one weakness.

Young didn’t equal lost.

Derrick Thorpe lived in the shadow of his father’s mistakes. Although he was adopted by Linus Trenton, he wanted to prove that he wasn’t like his biological father. When he was asked to go undercover to help at Trenton Security, it put him in close quarters with Gage. Being Gage’s was only an act, but when lines blur, what happens when the operation ends?

I know going in what to expect from one of these interconnected stories.  Damaged men who don’t think they deserve love, perhaps someone who already loves them, a case that needs to be investigated and many of our couples from the series and stories that orbit each other, serving as friends and extended families. Yet within this framework, J.M. Dabney brings new characters or rather familiar characters to the front for a closer examination and revelations.  We get to see where their damage came from, their past histories revealed, and who, most often, has drawn their attention and maybe even love.

The author also folds into their stories important current international elements such as child trafficking and slavery that makes our headlines daily and puts a face to the horror in Cameron in the daughter that is missing,   Through Alex we feel his pain, panic , and outright despair at ever finding her, if not alive, then whole.

While the investigation is frantically intensifying for Cameron (and the author horrifIcally details why the searchers have such a short frame of time to accomplish their goals), Gage and Derrick are working through a minefield of emotions themselves about each other.

There is enough material here for Gage to be twice as long.  I wanted more to be frank.  More of the high wire act that was the investigation and suspenseful search for Cameron.  That has me in knots every step of the way.  And then, almost as a second story, the romance and dynamics that was playing out between Gage and Derrick.  That involves all the voilence and extreme angst of Gage’s background which he hadn’t quite worked through and still required, as he acknowledged, the needs of a therapist, to help him.

In that respect this is very much a HFN, which realistically all you could expect.

There is Daddy kink, bdsm, D/s.  and for people with  triggers… beating, domestic violence, self harm such as cutting, and mention of suicide.

J.M. Dabney’s books, especially in these series are dark, gritty, and  not for the faint hearted.  I prefer them that way.  They are true to these wounded men and the situations around them.

I have listed all the connected series below.  It helps to obtain a sense of community and who all the people and couples are that are mentioned here or appear in the scenes.

I recommend them all.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  I love that cover by Reese Dante, That is my idea of Gage.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

184 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
Edition Language English
Series Trenton Security #3

An Alisa Release Day Review: Every Other Weekend by TA Moore


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Divorce lawyer Clayton Reynolds is a happy cynic who believes in hard work and one-night stands. He also believes that being an excellent lawyer means he never has to go home to the miserable trailer park where he grew up and that volunteering at a women’s shelter will buy off the conscience that occasionally plagues him. So when Nadine Graham comes in with a broken arm and a son she desperately wants to protect, Clayton can’t turn down their plea for help.

Taking the case means appealing to investigator “Just Call Me Kelly” for help. That wouldn’t be so bad if Kelly weren’t a hopeless romantic… and the hottest man Clayton’s ever met.

Kelly has always had a crush on the unobtainable Clayton Reynolds. He agrees to help, even though he has enough on his plate with the motherless baby his widowed brother left him to care for.

As Nadine’s case turns dangerous and the two seemingly opposite men are forced to work together, they discover they have a great deal in common—but solving the case and saving Nadine’s life might cost Kelly everything.

I really liked this story.  Clayton has worked hard to get away from his past and lives his life for himself.  Kelly has a large family who are always interfering and they don’t seem to have the right priorities.  Nadine’s connection to Kelly was huge and it threw quite a curveball into the story.

Clayton thought he was a mess but, good lord, was Kelly’s family a mess, despite outward appearances.  His mother never says anything bad about her kids and lives in rose colored glasses.  I felt his pain when he tried to get through to her but she just didn’t see it and how she just ignored his problems or brushed over what was going on.  I couldn’t believe how much of a psycho his brother ended up being.  At least his father seems to come around at the end of the book.

I loved watching these two interact with each other and seeing both of their viewpoints was a big help to understand them.  I loved that no matter how much Clayton said he wasn’t going to get attached that he kept coming back to Kelly and supporting him.  I felt the most for Kelly with everything that was going on with his family, he had to be such a strong person.  I loved that Kelly found the love he has been longing for and that Clayton found the family he never really had.

The cover art by Bree Archer is great and I love the visual of Clayton.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages

Published: October 23, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-750-1

Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: To Love Again by Andria Large


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This was a sweet love story, though it was insta-love, and oddly, it was written in first person POV, alternating between Jack and Warwick. I’m definitely not a fan of first person, nor am I a fan of insta-love, especially in this case where Jack had been living with an abuser. But, the author pulled it off and gave us an engaging story complete with HEA.

Jack was beaten and raped by his long-time lover, Greg, and escaped with his life, his wallet, and his phone. The last time he was in the ER he was treated by Dr. Warwick Aldridge, who gave Jack his card and info on the abuse hotline. When Jack ended up in a McDonald’s bathroom, bleeding from face wounds, he called Warwick and thus begins his journey to a better life.

Warwick is originally from England, and when they find out Greg obtained Jack’s new phone number and has been hanging around the hospital looking for him, Warwick suggests a trip to England where he can see his family and Jack can feel safe.

Only two weeks have gone by, yet Warwick calls Jack “love” and Jack returns his affection with simple touches and kisses. Though somewhat believable, with Jack’s inability to forget Greg, his trembling at the man’s name, his startle reflex when someone touches him, it is difficult to believe the two could be in love by the time the four weeks in England is up. There’s kissing and sex and plans for the future. But when Warwick is contacted by Greg, Jack chickens out and decides to stay in England. Is there hope for these two in a long distance relationship? Well, there’s still plenty of action after this point, including another appearance by Greg.

It’s an interesting story, the characters are engaging, and the action fast-paced. Only 127 pages, the story evolves quickly. To be honest, the first person voice wasn’t as bad as some I’ve read, but it does keep me from enjoying it thoroughly. And falling in love so quickly, especially for characters in their thirties who’ve held out so long already is a bit much to take.

Against the dark background of the cover by Melissa Albin, all that can be seen of two men are their entwined arms and their hands linked with the fingers pointing downward forming a heart. It’s very clever and grabs attention.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 127 pages
Expected publication: September 14th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) by Lisa Henry


Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) by Lisa Henry
Riptide Publishing
Cover art: Natasha Snow

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here


About Two Man Station

Gio Valeri is a big city police officer who’s been transferred to the small outback town of Richmond with his professional reputation in tatters. His transfer is a punishment, and Gio just wants to keep his head down and survive the next two years. No more mistakes. No more complications.

Except Gio isn’t counting on Jason Quinn.

Jason Quinn, officer in charge of Richmond Station, is a single dad struggling with balancing the demands of shift work with the challenges of raising his son. The last thing he needs is a new senior constable with a history of destroying other people’s careers. But like it or not, Jason has to work with Gio.

In a remote two man station hours away from the next town, Gio and Jason have to learn to trust and rely on each another. Close quarters and a growing attraction mean that the lines between professional and personal are blurring. And even in Richmond, being a copper can be dangerous enough without risking their hearts as well.

Available now from Riptide Publishing.

About Lisa Henry

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

Connect with Lisa:

Website: lisahenryonline.com

Blog: lisahenryonline.blogspot.com

Twitter: @lisahenryonline

Goodreads: goodreads.com/LisaHenry


To celebrate the release of Two Man Station, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit and a package of Australian goodies! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 27, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Garrett Leigh on the Inspiration and Characters of ‘Finding Home’ (author interview and giveaway)


Finding Home by Garrett Leigh
Riptide Publishing
Cover by: G.D. Leigh

Release Date: October 9, 2017

Read an Excerpt/Available for Purchase at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Garrett Leigh today on her Finding Home tour.   We have a wonderful interview with the author and a giveaway to enter.  Neither are to be missed!


~ A Memorable Interview with Garrett Leigh Talking About Writing Finding Home and It’s Characters ~

  •  You write so movingly and here there’s the main element of foster children, a gutwrencher of a topic. What prompted this element?

I was actually inspired to write Finding Home by a documentary I saw on BBC3 a few years ago. Ironically, I can’t remember much about it now, but I found the notes it prompted a year later, and the story was still there.

  • How much research did you have to do for this story and characters?

Not nearly enough at first. I had the characters down because they were very dear to my heart even in the early stages, but after checking with some sensitivity betas in the foster care system, I realised that I still had a lot of work to do. Assumptions I’d made didn’t ring true anymore, and there was some significant rewriting.

  •  Was there ever a time you thought that you were getting too emotional as you wrote or is there such a thing?

There is never such a thing. If I don’t connect with my characters, I’m wasting my time.

  • What makes you decide to go down this particular narrative path?

Originally, the story was told entirely from Leo’s POV, but Charlie had far more to say than I realised, so the dual POV came naturally.  

  •  Is there something special you would want the readers to know about this story?

I wrote it for my daughter.

  • I’m not usually drawn to young adult books but this one calls to me.  What is different about this book from other young adult books?

I think perhaps that it’s told in third person, rather than the first person/present tense we’re used to in YA books. I enjoy books like that, but I wanted this book to be a little more reflective. 

  • How old are Leo and Lila when they’re put into foster care?

Fifteen and five, though Lila has turned six by the time we meet her.

  •  I get the feeling that Leo’s journey through this book will be heartbreaking.  Will he fight letting Charlie in or welcome it?

Without giving too much away, Leo doesn’t have much left to fight Charlie with. And he doesn’t want to. Charlie is sweet and kind, and wonderful, and despite all Leo has been through—is still going through—he knows what a rare thing a boy like Charlie truly is.

  •  Does Charlie have his own darkness to conquer or is he the light to Leo’s dark?

Charlie has his own demons, but he’s had years of stability and love to build his resilience. He had a rough start in life, and he’s quite a shy boy, but he has an emotional confidence that Leo is lacking. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.

About Finding Home

How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?

With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.

Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.

Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.

Available now from Riptide Publishing

About Garrett Leigh

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Social media:


To celebrate the release of Finding Home, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 14, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

An Alisa Pre-Release Review: Finding Home by Garrett Leigh


Rating:  4 stars out of 5


How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?


With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.


Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.


Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.


This was a story that called to me despite it not being my usual genre.  Charlie is definitely a good kid and he wants to make things better for his new foster brother.  Leo is a good kid hidden underneath the surface, he has had to have a strong skin and push others away so long but Charlie quietly gets through his barriers and he doesn’t know what to do about it,


Leo has had to live his life in fear of being hurt or protecting his little sister from their father.  This has caused him to grow up in ways a kid never should have to.  Charlie found his home with the Poultons and hopes that Leo and Lila may be able to also.


This story was wonderfully written and I was able to see the characters feelings and emotions well.  It’s heartbreaking to see Leo wanting to reach out to someone but not knowing how to and then feeling that he needs to push others away.  I loved Charlie’s nurturing nature and how he uses it to calm Leo’s demons.  I loved that Leo was able to confront his past in a way that finally gave him some closure and the strength to start building a new life.  I love the HFN ending that gave us a great view of their progress in their relationship with each other and the family.


Cover art by G.D. Leigh is absolutely perfect for this story.


Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon | B&N


Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages

Published: October 9, 2017 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-62649-601-9

Edition Language: English

Morning Coffee Sip and Book Break with ‘Fistful of Love’ by Renee Cronin (excerpt and giveaway)


Fistful of Love - Final Cover

Fistful of Love by Renee Cronin

Release Date: April 4, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Renee Cronin
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow


At the age of 23, social worker, Jeya Wellington was pretty much on her own. The devastating loss of her parents left her bereft and alone. Her best friend, Roman and his family have been like surrogates, but they could never replace what she lost. She needed a different connection. Shortly after losing her parents, she finds love and comfort in the arms of Rayne Watson, a correctional officer.

Rayne was exactly what she needed at the time, but now, two years later, Jeya wants out. She never expected love to come with bruises. She didn’t anticipate losing friends and living in fear. This was not her idea of true love. With the support of Roman, Jeya finds a way to leave. But Rayne isn’t letting go that easily. They made a commitment to each, and she has the tattoo to prove it – ‘Til Death Do Us Part.

Torn between the love she has for Rayne and the instinct to protect herself, is Jeya’s will stronger than her vow?


Pages or Words: 46,323
Categories: Lesbian Fiction, Domestic Violence


It’s over.

Two simple words, intended to signify the end, were instead just the beginning. Jeya took a deep breath, and the pain that pierced her side served as the reminder she needed. She hit the send button. Unexpected relief instantly washed over her. “I did it. Step one. Now for step two.” Jeya placed her phone on the bed and stood up to double-check her suitcase. Going over the checklist in her mind, she felt confident that she had the essentials. A week away from home required more than she’d anticipated, but she had no intention of returning until the rainstorm had passed. Jeya took a second to acknowledge the double entendre of the word. Her girlfriend, Rayne, was definitely a hurricane. Her temper was unpredictable and left damage in its wake similar to that which Hurricane Gloria had. She knew she’d be safer at Roman’s house for the next several days.

The lyrics to “Dangerously in Love” cursed the air. The perfect ringtone to describe her relationship. She braced herself as she walked to the bed and picked up the phone. Jeya anticipated nothing less than an explosive response from her short-tempered girlfriend.

Buy the book: Amazon


Meet the Author

Renee Cronin is a self-professed devour of knowledge, and a voracious reader. She began writing in earnest in 2005, when the characters in her head became so loud she was forced to tell their stories, or risk getting swept away into the abyss of her imagination. Renee has since used writing as a personal outlet to express her feelings, ideas, views, thoughts, and opinions about the world and the issues that impact her on a deep personal and societal level. (And of course writing also quiets the voices in her head of the many characters that are yearning to have their stories told.) Renee’s inspiration to publish is in large part due to the overwhelming display of encouragement, and support from family and friends, who believe she has a gift with words that need to be shared with world. Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, she works in the social work field avidly advocating and supporting the varied needs of the people in her community. Renee is a bibliophile with a transcendent love for words. Her soul yearns for the acoustic stylings from a plethora of musical genres. As she continues on this journey of published author she hopes to keep her readers captivated and pining for more.

Where to find the author:


Tour Dates & Stops:

4-Apr: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Full Moon Dreaming

11-Apr: Molly Lolly, Charley Descoteaux

18-Apr: Unquietly Me, Velvet Panic, Bayou Book Junkie

25-Apr: Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

2-May: TTC Books and More, BFD Book Blog

9-May: Prism Book Alliance, Love Bytes

15-May: Inked Rainbow Reads, MM Good Book Reviews, My Fiction Nook

23-May: A.M. Leibowitz, Oh My Shelves, Rednecks and Romance, Dawn’s Reading Nook



Enter to win Rafflecopter Prize: $15 gift card to Amazon and an e-copy of book.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Loving Hector by John Inman


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Loving HectorDillard “Dill” Brown is not sure what to say about his life.  Dill is tall, gay and writes m/m romance novels.  He has published 3 books, none very successful. At the age of 30, he has a closet full of fast food uniforms due to the fact that his writing barely pays his rent, and a mother in denial that her son is gay.  Then everything changes.  He gets drunk, meets a man he swears he won’t forget but does in his stupor, finds a dog he will call Chester, and puts his feet firmly on the path to true love and happily ever after.

Hector Pena is also on that road with Dill, but he just didn’t realize it at first.  There are a couple of misunderstandings to  get over before they really start to connect but the biggest obstacle?  That would be Hector’s exboyfriend, Valdemaro.  Valdemaro is not ready to let Hector go, to the point of beating and physically restraining him.  Only one thing is keeping Hector from calling the cops.  And that would be the fact that Valdemaro is a cop.  Dill  will  do whatever it takes to keep Hector safe, put Valdemaro in his place and make sure Dill, Hector, and Chester the dog reach their HEA, including gathering together some of the craziest, zaniest group of people to do it.

Loving Hector is the first book I have read by John Inman and it has me reaching for the rest of his titles immediately.  Dill, Hector, and the crazy group of characters that enrich, support and drive them batty had me laughing for hours.  John Inman rests the story in the somewhat capable hands of Dill Brown, 30 year old gay m/m romance novelist and collector of fast food jobs.  It is told from Dill’s off kilter and very funny rambling POV.  Now I am aware that this type of stream of consciousness, scattered narrative is not everyone’s cup of tea and that it can depend on exactly who and what type of character’s thoughts are constantly flowing over the page.  But I happened to find Dill hysterical, his view of the world compassionate and openhearted, so I enjoyed spending time  inside his very creative and observant mind (thank you, John Inman).

For an example, here is Dill eyeing his Gramps, a crazy old coot who just happens to love his gay grandson:

When Dill was finally able to step out onto the sidewalk, the two men eyed each other up and down like a couple of Sumo wrestlers getting ready to rumble.

The top of Gramps’s work pants were tucked up under his armpits so that his belt buckle was directly under his chin. Dill could see several inches of pale, shiny shinbone gleaming between the man’s pant legs and the top of his socks. One of the socks was white with little red and blue stripes around the top, and the other was white with little yellow and green stripes around the top. The second sock drooped down around the ankle because the elastic was shot. The first sock looked like it was three sizes too small and by the way it was strangling his grandpa’s leg, Dill figured it would probably create an embolism sometime in the next seven or eight minutes that would kill the old man dead. The shoes were brown-and-white saddle shoes, the sort you usually see in old pictures poking out from under a poodle skirt. The laces were missing. The trousers were brown and shiny, and the lumberjack shirt the man wore was a horrendous green and orange plaid and big enough to hold three grandfathers. It was without a doubt the ugliest plaid Dill had ever seen in his life. If it was a tartan emblem for a particular clan of Scottish Highlanders, then they must have been a clan of color-blind, troglodytic morons.

There was a fat pocket watch in one of the shirt pockets which dragged the left side of the shirt down lopsided from the way it was supposed to hang, making his grandfather look as if half of him was doubly affected by gravity, and the other half wasn’t affected by gravity at all. He wore a woman’s wristwatch on one arm and a man’s wristwatch on the other. Even with three clocks, Dill would have bet his life if you asked Grandpa what time it was, he wouldn’t know. To top it all off, the man’s fly was wide open. Dill kept expecting a moth to fly out. Better that than a hundred-and-fifty-year-old dick.

Wrap a feather boa around Gramps’s neck and slap a derby on his head and he would look like the poster boy for cognitive dysfunction. Dementia’s Hunk of the Month.

Ignoring the persistent throbbing of his poor hung-over head, Dill scooped his grandfather, or what was left of him, into his arms. “Hey, Gramps. It’s great to see you.”

That gives you a very good taste of the sort of thing you can expect from Loving Hector.  Over the top descriptions that leave you with a very clear picture of who and what is going on with Dill at any given moment.  I love the characters John Inman has created for this story.  Yes, some come very close to stock characters or caricatures we have seen before, the horny grandpa, the loony mom, the overly patient dad, etc. But the author puts his own spin on them, endows them with plenty of heart and soul, bringing them to life on each page they inhabit.  This goes for two of my personal favorites, Miss Lily  the Vietnamese owner of Yum Yum Donuts and her German baker husband, Thorolf.  I loved these two immensely, and not just because of their interaction with Gramps.  Here is Dill’s description of Miss Lily’s hair:

She had hair enough for six Vietnamese immigrants, and she wore it piled high on top of her head in a celestial arrangement of blue-black curls and swirls and flips and dips and interwoven ribbons and fluttering metal butterflies and a chop stick or two, and what looked like a windshield wiper from a ’53 Buick sticking out the back. Dill figured the blueprint for that hairdo was so intricately complex that Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, working in tandem with fourteen Cray computers at their disposal, couldn’t have figured it out. Hell, I. M. Pei must have been her hairdresser. Maybe he just designed weirdass buildings on the side. This was his true masterpiece.

No, Miss Lily is a masterpiece, and so is Thorolf, and the rest of the gang.  Inman manages to make this gang zany while still keeping them human, a lovely feat.  But at the heart of this story is Dill and his love for Hector. Hector has his own story to tell and his recent past is not pretty.

And this is where we arrive at my one real qualm with these story.  Hector is a victim of domestic violence, a very real and underreported crime in the gay community.  His ex boyfriend is not only physically abusive but a police officer which is every victim’s worst nightmare, no matter their sexuality or gender.  To see how real and combustive a threat this combination is, just pick up any current headline.  I can think of two offhand in The Washington Post over the last several weeks and neither of them involved comedy or ended well for the victim.  I really wish that Inman had chosen another avenue to demonstrate Valdemaro’s unsuitability as an ex boyfriend.  He could have chewed tobacco, smacked mimes or hated dogs, anything but be someone who doled out beatings in the same manner he gave out parking tickets.  It makes me uneasy to see such a real problem a part of a story with a comedic romantic bent.  Had that element been missing, this rating would have been substantially higher, as it was it almost pushed this rating into 3 stars.

Still I loved Dill and his gang.  How can you not love someone who looks at all the fast food uniforms in his closet and calls them The Closet of Humble Beginnings, not looking at them as a line up of failure but as a means to make money and still have the energy left over to write.  I like that man, and his family (related and otherwise).  I liked his lover too.  So off I go to see what else I can find that Inman has written.  Pick this one up, there is a scene where flying donuts come to the rescue….you won’t want to miss that or any of the other hijinks that ensue.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is perfect for the story and the couple within.