Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ROLL by Lynn Townsend

Publisher:  Torquere Press
Published:   25/02/2014
Genre:   Gay Romance
Book format:  E-Book
Obtained via:    Publisher
Reviewed by:  Helena Stone

Rating: 3.5

Leaving rural and ultra conservative Tennessee for college, Beauregard (Beau) Watkins at last has the opportunity to be who he really is. Having pretended his way through high school with a cute girlfriend he doesn’t feel anything for and a lifestyle that lives up to everybody’s expectations, he should now be free to explore the feelings he’s been hiding for years. His desire to find out who he really is leads him to the Rainbow Connection and Vinyl (Vin) Elvis Reyes. Vin is everything Beau isn’t; completely out of the closet, loud, extravagant and extremely rich. The two young men soon turn into close friends. Vin might be eager for something more between them; he doesn’t stand in the way of Beau exploring his new found freedom through a string of shallow affairs. It is only when an old foe of Vin’s gives Beau a beating that leaves him hospitalised that the two of them give in to the mutual attraction.

With their backgrounds and life-styles so very different Beau and Vin have a few obstacles to overcome and that is before Beau is forced to come out to his family and Vin shares a shocking discovery about his past with Beau.

As my rating indicates, I’m a bit conflicted about this book. There was a lot to love about this story. Beau and Vin were wonderful characters to read about as were the other members of the Rainbow Connection. The contrasts between Beau and Vin were perfectly painted as was the love between them.

Something I liked a lot less was that on a few occasions the story seemed to cut off just when it started getting interesting. Vin asks Beau to dance and even while I’m thinking ‘oh yummy, dance scenes can be so exciting’, the next chapter starts with a new scene at a later date. The same thing happens when it has snowed. There’s talk about ambushing friends, Vin and Beau go outside and then the chapter ends on: In the end the ambush was epic.” I can’t help wondering if it ever occurred to the author that her readers might enjoy experiencing the epicness of that ambush?

On the other hand, there were moments of tenderness that nearly took my breath away. I loved Vin’s honesty when talking about his feelings.

“I’ve never been in love before. It’s kinda scary. I feel like I’ve been given something rare and precious and terribly breakable.” – Vin to Beau

And I loved Vin’s vulnerability, despite all his privileges and money, and his ability to show it to Beau.

“You are who you are, and I love you because, despite and sometimes in spite of it. If you can’t say the same, if I can’t be enough with the money...” Vin

The moment when Beau confronts his brother and throws away years of carefully hiding who he is in order to stand up for the man he loves was wonderful and inspired.

“I’ve always been gay. Vin didn’t have anything to do with that. All he’s ever done is make me feel happy and loved for who I am.” – Beau

And the wish Vin makes when blowing out the candles on his birthday cake is one most of us should pay attention to:

“I wish to never take any of the good times for granted.” – Vin

Just when I thought the things I loved about this book far exceeded the things I didn’t, the book ended – apparently mid-story. And while I’m not a huge fan of cliff-hangers I can live with them provided I know to expect one. There was however nothing to indicate that this book might be the first instalment in a series. I checked Amazon after I finished the story to see if maybe there had been a warning there that I had missed but no. This book is being sold as a one-off complete story only to end with what appears to be a set-up for part two. And I might not even have minded that too much if it hadn’t been for the fact that my copy of the book says nothing about an upcoming sequel or when it might be expected.

To summarize it all: This was a charming, not particularly graphic, coming-out story that managed to capture my heart even as it occasionally let me down. And despite my frustration about the way the book ended I can’t help hoping that there will be a sequel in the not too distant future. I’ve grown fond enough of Beau and Vin to want to spend more time with them.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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