Maybe I’m just tired and emotional near the end of this year. But I really got involved in this romance novel. I cared about what happened to these characters, and hoped that everything was going to turn out right.
R J Scott is a new author to me – and one of those who specialize in gay male romantic fiction. This is a genre to subdivides into all kinds of amazingly specific genres and tastes, but I guess what we have here is a fairly straightforward and only mildly erotic love story. To use imagery from the coffee shop where Chris works, it’s probably a vanilla latte laced with some kind of spicy syrup, and topped with a squirt of something Christmassy.
There was something about the small, snowy, intense world that Chris and Daniel occupy and the day-by-day charting of their early encounters that really drew me in. The book is set almost entirely within coffee shops and apartments around Midtown Manhattan, and we’re focused most of the time on Chris’s neuroses about rekindling this flirtatious relationship with a friend from ten years ago. Now they’re reunited in the days before Christmas, and will they be able to pick up where they left off?
The other character is Daniel – a city cop from a very rich background. I loved the fact that there was no mystery to him. There was no game-playing on his part, or the author’s, about what his intentions were. The two of them are determined to go for it this time. The difficulties and stumbling blocks all come from outside their control – and these are what give the story its momentum and worrying twists and turns. Chris is engaged in a terrible case of unfair dismissal from his fancy teaching job, and is demoralized and licking his wounds. It seems to him like an insurmountable problem – but Daniel tackles it for him. But then, just as it seems a happy ending is on the cards something dreadful happens. Daniel is called with his partner to an horrific crime scene and it seems that things are never going to be the same again.
These two men and their courtship and predicament seemed very real to me. Their awkwardness and hesitations, and then the very exciting moments of shared communication and passion rang very true. This is a classy romance, full of atmosphere. And maybe I’m going soft and sentimental – but I loved it, and wanted more of this kind of gay romance.