Title: How Could Love be Wrong?
Author: BG Thomas
Length: 68 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
As a teenage boy, Clay finds love for the first time with his best friend, Matthew—a love shattered by Matthew’s guilt and religious dogma. Later, as a young man, Clay is blessed with the love of a woman, a close companion who accepts him for who he is even though he can never give her the devotion she deserves in return. But Clay might be able to put his guilt and disappointment behind him—if he can learn to accept love from an unexpected source.
**Warning: This review might be a bit spoilerish**
On the whole I rather like BG Thomas’ stories, but with this one there were one or two things which didn’t work for me.
The story is a bit of a mini-epic spanning 24 years in the life of Clay. As a young man he falls in love with his best friend Matthew, but when Matthew’s abusive and homophobic father, who is also a church minister, threatens Matthew, he breaks it off with Clay and marries. Clay is broken hearted and turns to his friend Sherry who he eventually marries and has two sons. Later he meets up with Matthew as friends only, but becomes particularly attached to Matthew’s son, Luke.
I know that many readers are put off by themes of religious homophobia, but that actually worked well in this story. Matthew is weak, a victim of abuse who then becomes abuser as he turns into adulthood. More than that he blames his bad choices on others rather than himself. It was a realistic, if a little simplistic portrayal of a man in denial who allows that to taint his entire life. Clay, on the other hand, has a support in the slightly too saintly Sherry and avoids the bitterness which consumed Matthew. In many ways Clay is also rather weak, taking the easier road of marrying without passion because he knows it will make everyone else happy. Yet, that was realistic and understandable too.
Where the story didn’t work for me was in the romantic relationship Clay develops with Luke, Matthew’s son. it wasn’t the age gap per se, after all I’ve read lots of m/m books with large age gaps and they haven’t bothered me, but rather the fact that Clay had been a father figure for Luke as Luke grew up from a boy to a man. Often during that time, Clay talked about how he wished that Luke was his son and so when he started having lustful thoughts, I began to feel rather uncomfortable. I’ve felt this sort of discomfort before when reading stories where we see adults being close to children and then falling in love with them as they get older so really it’s my problem and not necessarily the way the story is written.
The story works as a tale of a man who gets a second chance in love. It was a little melodramatic in places, but overall there was a lot of heart in it and I liked Clay. The use of the moon throughout the narrative was also an effective devise. If only the romance had come from a different quarter, I would have been able to recommend the story wholeheartedly. As it is, the romance failed for me but other readers may still like it.