My first foray into gay romance brought to you by The January Project.
My alter ego won an ebook of Sarah Madison’s The Boys of Summer during a month-long blog hop. I didn’t have to enter the contest, but the cover and description evoking World War II sucked me in. I’m so glad I’m a lucky girl.
In the modern day, David McIntyre, a Hollywood location scout, hires Rick Sutton of Sutton’s Air Service to fly him around Hawaii’s islands. A storm forces Sutton to crash land on a deserted island as the two are nearing the end of their working relationship. The two men take refuge in an abandoned World War II outpost and scavenge resources, battle the elements and injuries and try to attract the attention of potential rescuers before it is too late.
This is only part of the story. Roughly one third of the way into The Boys of Summer, the author introduces a lengthy dream sequence. For some people, this is a deal killer. In the past, I’ve been known to roll my eyes or worse put down a book with dream sequences lasting a page or two because they are irrelevant to the story. David dreams he and Sutton met and became romantically involved in London during World War II. About twenty pages in, the idea crossed my mind that it was a novella that could stand alone and apart from the contemporary frame, then the last third of the book, set once again in modern day Hawaii blew up that foolish conception. The dream sequence becomes integral to David’s character arc and guides his actions. Major props to Sarah Madison for making a dream sequence that is worth reading AND relevant to the story.
I also commend the author for the judicious and effective use of detail. All too often in historical novels, superfluous detail describing the curtains or ruffles on a gown the sheen on a street take away from a character and deep point of view. The reader sees both settings through David’s sharp eye. He is a man who notices detail as a profession, but his commentary on what he sees is honest, never showing off. Madison did her research and her accuracy shines as the RAF pilots discuss planes, but she never loses sight of her characters.
This is a character driven novel, in spite of having adventure scenes that would fit into one of the movies David loves. The male/male sex scenes are pretty tame compared to ones I’ve read in mainstream male/female romance and even sex scenes from literary works. I walked away with a sense of tenderness between partners rather than sex simply to titillate and push book sales.
All in all, I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this novel. The Boys of Summer certainly exceeded my expectations, although in truth, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than “gay romance.” The beauty in this story and writing go beyond a subcategory. I will seek out more of Sarah Madison’s writing in the future.
As always, I make no money by offering buy links but I want to offer them as part of The January Project to encourage book reviews.