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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Boy Next Door by Kate McMurray

The Boy Next Door by Kate McMurray
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (130 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 3 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

When Lowell moves back to his hometown to take care of his ailing mother, the last person he expects to see living in the house next door is his childhood friend Jase, grown up now and more attractive than ever. Jase had starred in many of Lowell’s teenage fantasies, but Lowell is convinced Jase is straight. And yet, as they rekindle their friendship, it begins to look like Jase might not be so straight after all.

Jase has problems of his own: his troubled ex-wife has allowed him full custody of their daughter on one condition: he never exposes her to his affairs with other men. The arrangement works just fine until he starts falling for Lowell and a whole new world of possibilities opens up for him. But how can he have a relationship with a man and still keep his daughter?

A childhood fantasy can’t be the love of your life, can he? That's what Lowell thought when he moved back to his hometown to take care of his ailing mother. Lowell’s childhood friend Jase just happens to be his next door neighbor. But life has certainly changed for both men as Jase is now divorced with a young daughter. As the two men reconnect, Lowell and Jase face a lot of obstacles that test their newfound friendship and romance.

The Boy Next Door is a sweet romance with the familiar and well loved theme of friends turned lovers. The two main characters are normal guys dealing with the every day struggles of life, jobs, economy, and a relationship in a small town. Lowell and Jase have a lot of conflict that draws out the story. There is the issue of Jase’s ex-wife and custody of his child which plays a huge role in the novel. Then there is Lowell’s openness about his sexuality while Jase prefers to stay closeted. These problems and more contribute to the tension about whether the two men can actually weather the issues and come out together.

While the story is by turns romantic and lovely, it also tends to drag. There is some information and additional scenes that don’t seem to add much to the story. Jase’s best friend, a nearby bar owner, is also gay but I’m not sure how his romantic problems play into the story. If anything this distracts from the main couple. Additionally Jase and Lowell have a rocky relationship with a lot of fighting. Jase is especially fearful and often lashes out at Lowell because of this. Lowell is pretty understanding but ultimately I wasn't entirely sure that these two really fell in love and lasted.

The characters are three dimensional and come across as authentic. Their problems feel genuine and you can empathize with their issues. There are no clear cut evil villains and the story creates good tension with a definite happy ending. While this didn’t always work so well for me I think some readers will enjoy the real feel to the story. Everyday men with problems and issues that aren’t fantasies but find a way to true love. If this sounds like your type of book, give it a chance.

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