by Jamie Craig, contemporary (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-380-6
Apart from the fact that each of the main characters in the relationship has a penis, Brindisi Bedfellows has a storyline that is pretty familiar.
Christian Davis is about to embark on their dream vacation to Brindisi in Italy with his boyfriend of six years, Andrew, when Andrew drops the bombshell that he's leaving Christian to reconcile with his ex-wife. As Christian sobs into his drink, Andrew's buddy Trip Watson shows up to pick up the pieces of Christian's heart as he joins Christian on that vacation in Brindisi.
I suppose that I should point out that this story doesn't follow the typical formula of the romance novel when it comes to issues like fidelity so you may want to adjust your expectations from "romance novel, only with gay boys" to "gay drama from TLA".
I don't mind Christian since he's a decent lead character that doesn't whine too much, it's Trip that I don't understand. Trip slept with Andrew several times even after Andrew hooked up with Christian but justifies that it was just something between friends so it was okay. I tell you, someone clearly must have watched Queer As Folk one too many times. When Andrew goes back to his ex-wife, Trip flips out nearly as, if not more than, Christian. He talks about how Andrew should be true to himself and what-not, but I wonder if he's just being a drama queen because he's in love with Andrew himself.
The story improves as it progresses, however, as Christian turns out to be a pretty level-headed fellow who has enough self-respect not to let Andrew treat him like dirt any further. It is Trip who is the silly one when it comes to communication, which again has me wondering just what it is with this fellow. He seems to be a bag of contradictions at times; I never get this impression that Trip is a cohesive character in his own right.
A part of me cringes at the cattiness directed towards Andrew's ex-wife in this story, but that's probably just me. I can never get used to the misogyny that can often be prevalent in gay fiction and it really puzzles me when women who write these stories do this kind of thing. I'm not saying that Jamie Craig is guilty of this, mind you, it's just that making poor Lizzie the caricature of the Creature that Stands Between Our Pure Love smacks too much of laziness.
Still, on the whole, Brindisi Bedfellows is one of more readable gay romances I've come across. It is free from most of the problems that plague the genre. The writing isn't too melodramatic, Christian isn't a walking black hole of angst and self pity, and there is actual build-up leading towards the first love scene. I believe that this one could have been better in many ways, but I think Brindisi Bedfellows is pretty alright at the end of the day.
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