Title: Loving Samuel
Author: Martin Delacroix
Length: 62 pdf page
Publisher: Noble Romance
Genre: m/m contemporary
Nick’s parents are lower-class. Domestic violence has plagued his Florida childhood. A closeted gay man, he vows he’ll avoid personal commitments as an adult. Nick tells himself, Who needs love? It’s all bullshit, anyway. But on a Costa Rican surfing trip, Nick meets Samuel, a beautiful California surfer who makes Nick’s heart race. Nick’s willing to reconsider his vow, but the two men are so different. And Samuel has psychological problems. Does love between Nick and Samuel stand a chance?
While this story is billed as an “erotic romance”, I found it less on the erotic side on more on the introspective “what is real love” side. I think this initial short paragraph from the beginning of the book sums up the gist of the story.
Listen: love never drops into your lap. What you see in movies isn’t real; you have to work for love. Sometimes, that takes years; the journey can be difficult. You give, and then you give more. It is always a struggle, but you mustn’t quit, because—in the end—love’s worth the price you pay for it.
The story is told a bit in the sense of looking back at how Nick and Samuel got together, starting with 19-year-old Nick on a surfing vacation in Costa Rica. He runs into Samuel at a restaurant and ends up staying with Nick for a few days. While Nick’s interest is clear, Samuel states he’s in a relationship, however one night they do have sex, and the next morning Samuel is gone, leaving only a note. Samuel was the first guy Nick though might be worth more than one night, but life goes on. A few years later, he’s graduated and working as a teacher and on summer vacation goes to a surfing competition in California. While out surfing, he runs into Samuel and his boyfriend who was with him in Costa Rica.
Nick agrees to talk to Samuel, even though he’s hurt by seeing him again, and they yet again have sex and make arrangements to meet. When Samuel doesn’t show, Nick goes to his house and it seems he’s in an abusive BDSM relationship with the boyfriend, however he can’t make Samuel leave. Some time later, Nick attends a film festival with a coworker and Samuel is the director of the movie. They reconnect, only this time Samuel has broken up with his boyfriend and is getting therapy. They begin a long distance relationship which gets harder and harder to leave each other each time.
The strength in this story for me was Nick’s reluctance to give up his life and move to California to become in part Samuel’s keeper and touchstone. I could understand his feelings. He loved Samuel, but it was no secret that Samuel had issues, that he could fall into depression or moods and did Nick really want to take that on for the rest of his life. When Nick’s commitments to his little brother (as in the organization, not biological) mean that he can’t run to Samuel when’s he’s feeling stressed, nearly being killed by his ex finally triggers Nick’s decision.
In some ways it was a symbiotic relationship. Samuel needed someone to lean on and take care of him and Nick needed someone to take care of. It was interesting to watch their relationship develop over the years. Yes, there were a few “coincidences”. What are the odds of two people in California ending up surfing at the same beach? But that was okay, sometimes you want to see the story develop and you are willing to let a few things go. I appreciated that it didn’t gloss over Samuel’s mental illness, but it didn’t make it an insurmountable object either, just another challenge.
Yes, there is sex (condomless for those who have issues), but the story is really about so much more than an erotic romp and I did enjoy the descriptions of Costa Rica, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. I think it’s worth a read if you’re in the mood for a book that touches on several sensitive themes like domestic abuse and mental illness, but always with an undercurrent of love.