By Your Side by Willa Okati
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: Short Story (100 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus
Seven years ago, during a sultry summer by a lake, Matthieu fell in love with a man fifteen years his junior. Intelligent, passionate and talented, Roman swore he wanted nothing more than to settle down with Matthieu for the rest of his life. Matthieu couldn't let that happen. The way he saw it, Roman had too much talent to waste with a small life and small dreams. He tried to do the right thing by severing all ties with the young man who commanded his passion, hoping that one day Roman would forgive and forget him.
That was never going to happen.
Roman has always known exactly who and what he wants -- who he loves. Now that he's found Matthieu again, Roman's willing to do anything it takes to prove it. He'll use his body, his music, and all his wiles to show the older man that their love is as real as their passion, and that they are meant to be together. Matthieu isn't easily convinced, but Roman isn't easily bested. He's never been good at taking "no" for an answer -- especially when he knows his partner well enough to be sure what he really wants to say is yes, yes, yes.
Can you fall in love in an instant and stay in love forever? That’s the question Matthieu is faced with when he finds himself in love with a very young artist named Roman. Roman just turned eighteen and although he wants Matthieu, the older man knows there is a whole world for Roman to explore. After just one night together, Matthieu leaves to let Roman mature and experience life without an older man weighing him down. Yet Roman never stops looking for Matthieu and when they’re reunited seven years later, Roman is determined they’re going to be together forever.
By Your Side is a lyrical, lovely story. It has a fey quality to the writing and descriptions as they are littered with musical references and comparisons. Roman is an artist, a singer, songwriter, and his love of music is only eclipsed by his love for Matthieu. Not even years apart can dampen their love and Roman’s determined to prove this to the older man. Their May/December romance is nicely depicted though the age difference isn’t much of a factor. It causes Matthieu some indecision and angst about tying the other man down but there’s no real question the two will end up together.
The real star of the novella is the writing and descriptions. There is a hazy, almost indistinct quality as the actions never seem crisp. It’s as if there is a layer of fog over everything and it helps give the story close to a magical feeling. The dialogue is sparse and often repetitive as Roman is trying to convince Matthieu to let their love flourish and Matthieu of course wants to as well. There’s no real reason for the two to be apart and it’s clear their passion and emotion will win.
By Your Side is sure to be a hit with fans of the author and those readers that enjoy a more lyrical edge to their romance. Although contemporary, this story reads as if from another time with its emphasis on musical description and sparse descriptions. For those readers who enjoy tales of simple, easy love this could satisfy.