If I Must by Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Short Story (60 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus
Joel Martinez, a practical and organized computer programmer, is roommates with Ian Cooper, a certified IQ-in-the- stratosphere mathematical genius who literally can't find his own underwear in the mess of his day-to-day life. When Joel uneasily leaves Ian for the holidays, he ends up telling stories to his sister and discovers he feels much more for Ian than he thought. So when Ian calls, distraught because the only other thing in his life that loves him (a half-feral cat named Manky Bastard) is going to have to be put down, Joel hurries back home hoping that opposites really do attract.
Two roommates, a sick cat, and a life crisis all combine to offer an interesting holiday weekend. Joel is going home for a few days to see his mother and sister, yet worries that the scatter minded Ian will forget to take care of himself while Joel’s gone. Despite Ian’s assurances, Joel can’t seem to talk about anything but Ian to his family who finally get Joel to question his true feelings for Ian – is it friendship or something more? When their cat becomes sick, Joel rushes home to be with Ian and their relationship moves to another level when their feelings deepen.
This short story is delightful, entertaining, and thoroughly fabulous. Joel and Ian are great characters with unique flavor and quirkiness that makes them memorable. Although the classic genius who lacks common sense is a familiar stereotype, Ian transcends that particular role with his caring heart and adorable actions. He’s not perfect and makes mistakes, some worse than others, but I really liked how the author portrayed him beyond behind an incredibly intelligent but helpless young man. Suiting Ian well is Joel, a computer engineer of Mexican decent that adds some great dialogue and is the glue holding Ian’s intellectual world to reality.
There are some questionable issues such as Ian not realizing he needed condoms for sex – can anyone be that clueless? – and Joel having no idea that he was gay – something he likely should have realized was a possibility long before being told by his sister and mother – but these are minor issues. The great writing, absorbing descriptions, and solid dialogue all deliver a story that is perfect for the length and satisfying. The ending is a good happy ever after and there is a lot of romance between the men – even before they realize it. The final resolution is very sweet as is the tag line, “If I must!”
For a short, sweet, and well-written novella, definitely spend your money on this one. It’s not perfect but it’s very close and the best thing about it is that you’ll remember the characters even after you put the book down. As an introduction to this author, I was impressed and can’t wait to read more.