A Caryn Review: Midlife Crisis by Audra North

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’m so happy to have discovered her.  The book was everything I hoped it would be, and then some.

There is something so special about finding love when you’re older – whether you’ve lost a partner, or never had one, it always, to me anyway, feels like getting more than you thought you could expect.  I think when we’re young, there is a part of us that feels life owes us true love, but by the time we hit middle age, we realize life doesn’t really work that way, and finding it then is a true gift.  Which is why I love these older men!

Cam McGhee is 54 years old, and has left his home town of Bitter, Texas, for basically the first time in his life.  Bitter is an all-black farming town that’s existed for generations.  The community has learned to survive the Southern racism surrounding it by being self-sufficient, trusting and relying on each other, which has always meant behaving within a certain set of unspoken rules.  Following those rules kept them safe, and if it restricted the denizen’s freedom a little bit, well, it was worth it.  Cam grew up in this town of very conservative ideals, and though he knew he was gay from the time he was a young teenager, he also knew that he couldn’t ever admit it and still be accepted.  He started dating LaVerne in high school as a cover, but with small town expectations being what they were, he ended up marrying her, having two children, and staying with her faithfully until she died.  He left his successful feed and grain business in Bitter in his son’s hands, and moved to Austin, Texas, for 6 months, where he hoped to finally experience life as a gay man, at least temporarily, before he buried it all again and moved back to Bitter.

Cam met Dave Montoya at a coffee shop.  Cam had no idea how to approach a man, and his shyness was almost crippling, but Dave made things easy for him.  Dave is a successful, independent man from Connecticut who found his home in Austin, and who has lived his entire life as an out gay man.  Dave had his own reasons for not wanting to jump into casual hookups, and so moving slowly with Cam was natural and easy.  Almost without realizing it was happening, and certainly not intending for it to happen, they fell in love.  Which would have been wonderful, but Cam’s stay in Austin had an expiration date.

The story is told with alternating scenes from Cam’s present in Austin, and flashbacks to his life in Bitter.  I know flashbacks get a bad rap, but in this case, they were the perfect vehicle to show the stark differences between who Cam was, and who he wanted to be, and why he struggled so hard to reconcile these parts of himself.  As Cam and Dave meet and start dating, the story flashed back to Cam and LaVerne’s meeting, and Cam’s conscious decision to use LaVerne as a beard.  When Cam kissed Dave for the first time, he inevitably compared his physical response – as amazing as he’d always hoped kissing a man would be – to his sexual life with LaVerne.  As he started falling in love with Dave, Cam thought of the love he had for LaVerne – platonic, but strong despite the continual guilt he felt for not loving her the way a man should love his wife.  Cam was faithful, generous, and had a strong sense of responsibility and duty – attributes which kept him in Bitter for over 50 years, and when he saw the opportunity to have a different type of life with Dave, he still struggled with the choice:  could he stay in Austin with the man he loved, and life the life he’d always wanted, when doing so meant abandoning his friends and family in Bitter?

Another aspect of the book that I really appreciated was that racism was not front and center.  While it certainly made Bitter into the community it was (and what an interesting choice of name for the town!), once Cam came to Austin, he was just another man, not primarily a man of color.  There was a lot more homophobia mentioned than racism, but again, Dave’s friends and family showed Cam that homophobia wasn’t ubiquitous, and a full life as an out gay man was indeed possible.

Very highly recommended!

Cover art by LC Chase is perfect for the book

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 205 pages
Published August 28th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626496453

Audra North On Favorite Themes, Inspiration, and her latest novel ‘Midlife Crisis’ (author guest post and giveaway)

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Midlife Crisis by Audra North
Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Audra North here today talking about her release Midlife Crisis.  Welcome, Audra!

✒︎

 

 

One of the reasons I loved writing Midlife Crisis is because the story is about three things I love very much: 1. self-acceptance; 2. family and friendship bonds; and 3. Texas.

In Midlife Crisis, Cam McGhee—one of the main characters—is on a fifty-year journey of self-acceptance. Because of the time in which he was born and raised, because of his familial and community background, because of so many things that go into influencing a person’s sense of self, he has spend the first half of his life wanting to accept who he is and live fully as himself, but resigning himself to never being able to. When circumstances change, and the opportunity to change his way of living is presented to him, though, he realizes the shift is easier said than done…even for a man in his fifties.

Family and friends play a big role in the book, too. Cam’s family is a source of angst and support at the same time. Dave Montoya, the other main character, has a tight-knit group of friends that looks out for him, and a sister who always has his back. For this particular story, I didn’t want to write any characters who were directly trying to undermine Cam and Dave’s journey, especially when Cam’s biggest enemy is himself—his own fears.

Oh, Texas. The third thing I love very much, though I have a complicated relationship with the state where I was born and raised (I now live in New England). Midlife Crisis takes place in Texas because of the ease of which a person can travel between rural farm communities and big cities, but still maintain that fundamental identity of Texan (it’s a thing, if any of y’all are from Texas or know Texans or watch Texans on TV). It’s an anchor point for Cam as he moves through an emotional tumultuous time in his life, and the constant of “Texas” helps him explore a new life of self-acceptance with more security.

In the end, this book is about the things I love, but at its core it’s about love, itself. Love through the self, love through connections, and love of one’s home are all secondary to the ability to love, in the first place.

 

About Midlife Crisis

 

Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.

 

Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.

 

No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to openly embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith—and a lot of love—his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.

 

Available now from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/midlife-crisis

About Audra North

 

Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series, the Hard Driving series, and the Pushing the Boundaries series. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

 

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

 

For more about Audra, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit audranorth.com.

 

Connect with Audra:

 

Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Midlife Crisis, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 2, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!