Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Aaron Hall has never been able to remain faithful to a single woman, and for most of his life, he’s dated two women at once. Recently his girlfriend tracked him down and knocked on his door—and his live-in girlfriend answered. Now he has no girlfriend and a mortgage he can’t pay by himself.
Vinnie Rosello needs to change his life—get a better job, stop drinking all his money away, find himself a serious boyfriend… and move out of his parents’ house. Aaron needs help with his expenses, so they become housemates.
Even though Aaron harbors some misconceptions about gay men and Vinnie misses his large Italian family, both men find comfort in their friendship. It’s a good arrangement until everything between them changes
Vinnie falls in love with Aaron, and Aaron is shocked to realize he feels the same. There’s only one problem—he’s still straight. He’ll have to overcome his fear of labels in order to love the man who’s captured his heart.
The Straight Boyfriend by Renae Kaye is another fascinating and outside-the-box offering from this wonderful author. Kaye has looked past most pairings we think of when it comes to LGBTQIA couples and gone for the relationships that are defined more by the heart than by any easy sexuality. Never has that been more apparent then with this series and this story.
It starts immediately with one character who comes from a polyamorous family. Kaye gives this unorthodox family arrangement loving understanding and a wonderful treatment here. We see the hurt and acceptance, inside and out, and the joys and stresses that come from growing up in a family where even a half brother has to be passed off as a “cousin”. Vinnie Rosello emerges from this wildly unusual Rosello family as a completely believable person as does all his boisterous Italian brothers, sisters, mother, aunt and father. Kaye has done her job as an author in making us understand them all, most importantly Vinnie, on his own for the first time. When he can’t sleep because he’s alone? Yes, I can really see that.
Aaron Hall is also beautifully set down as a realistically layered man who’s had certain expectations about his life, from his sexuality to the way in which he expects to live his life. But he is wonderfully elastic about those expectations in that he’s so willing to stretch his boundaries for friends and new people he likes. Aaron is flexible. And soon I believe he will find he needs an education in the term pansexual when his feelings grow towards Vinnie. Its lovely, believable, and understandable.
Others need a definition of pansexual too, those who might think this story and relationship is a rebuke of the term bisexual. I do not find this a repudiation of the term bisexual in any way. I firmly believe that some people can be and are pansexual and that Aaron is one of them. Who does Aaron fall in love with? Vinnie. Not men but Vinnie the person. Pansexual…that’s someone who loves the person, not the gender or as the dictionary puts it “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity’. That’s Aaron. If Aaron were bisexual, he would love both genders equally, be drawn sexually to both. That’s not Aaron. He wants only Vinnie. That’s pansexual. There’s a difference.
Does that mean this is a putdown of bisexuality? Absolutely not. At least in my opinion. For me, its Renae Kaye stretching boundaries again to show another type of relationship or if you slide Vinnie’s family in there, relationships, that families come in these days. Love knows no boundaries. Hmmm. Where have I heard that before? It used to be LGBT, then it was LGBTQ, then LGBTQIA and recently I believe I saw LGBTQIAA. We keep growing and stretching to make it more inclusive, to broaden our ideas of acceptance and peoples sexuality. Not to lessen it.
Wonderful stories like The Straight Boyfriend open our eyes to other peoples differences and let us understand them better. It makes acceptance easier or it should. I hadn’t thought about polyamory from a child’s standpoint until this story. Kaye gave me a lot to think about. The pansexuality? That was already something I had always accepted but her reasoning of it through Aaron was very believable.
I recommend this story, I think there are so many elements here that are positive and need to be heard. In a time where there needs to be more acceptance, not less, here is one more voice trying to keep our boundaries ever widening and ever inclusive.
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning. I thought the cover art bright and spot on with regard to the characters.
ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: November 21st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777107 (ISBN13: 9781634777100)
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