Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Sometimes there is so much to a book…so much content, emotion, and just plain good story that the idea of trying to condense it into a manageable review is daunting. This is precisely where I find myself when tasked with the job of giving you my opinion on Red + Blue by A.B. Gayle.
“No one need ever know. I can be discreet. I can come in via the garage. Make sure no on can see me. Come late at night.” The words tumbled out like water over a rapid. “Isn’t there room for me in the bottom of your closet?”
Adrian is the head of a family insurance company that also allows coverage of HIV patients. The deal he made with the devil (his own father) to ensure that the company allows for those policies included hiding his life in a closet so deeply that not even the alcohol he consumes in large quantities numbs the pain he feels every single day. His company has hired an intern, Ben, who is openly gay, relaxed in his own skin, and harbors a secret lust for his boss.
Adrian must watch as Ben falls into a sex-based relationship with Jason, the son of a family friend who Adrian has agreed to have live with him and watch over. Jason knows Adrian’s secret and uses it to taunt the man by going as far as having unprotected sex with Ben in Adrian’s home, just when he is due back and is able to burst in on them during the act.
It is later discovered that Jason’s drug use and partying lifestyle has led to numerous unprotected bouts of sex and that Jason has AIDS. The discovery has a resounding impact on Ben who now must wait through the grueling months of testing and retesting to discover if he indeed dodged the bullet and the disease.
For Adrian, the announcement has incredible reverberations and brings a past love to the forefront of his mind, a reminder of how his caving in to his father’s demands, and the subsequent nosedive into the closet, ruined the one man he ever loved and set his lover on a self-destructive path that would lead to his death—also from AIDS.
We watch as these two men, Ben and Adrian, draw closer and closer to each other, each in his own way allowing the walls surrounding their hearts to crumble and for a new love to enter in and take root. But theirs in not an easy relationship and it is fraught with danger and miscommunication and very nearly lost.
This was a richly drawn love story, rife with side characters that only added to the depth of the emotional connectedness of the two main characters. The story played out slowly and realistically, like a relationship that had so many inherent pitfalls would. This was no insta-love but the deliberate and heady experience of revelation and a growing attraction. A.B. Gayle writes with such fluidity, the storyline seamless and the characters so likeable that you find yourself alternately cheering and groaning aloud at their victories and their arguments.
When the specter of AIDS introduced, it is not easily swept aside. There is a realness to its handling, a certainty in its ability to kill, and a sobering affect on a young man who felt he was somewhat immune—too trusting and rather naive. The pain that it produces and the additional memories it evokes in Adrian are breathtaking in their poignancy and staggering in their emotional punch.
I tried, I did, to find flaws in this story. It was after all a lengthy tale and the possibility for inconsistencies and errors was certainly a reality. But once again A.B. Gayle proves herself to be the consummate storyteller, her novel a tight and neat little package that leaves you staggering and viscerally impacted to your very core.
I think the thing I loved most about this novel is its hint at an HEA but it’s very real thought that these two men have much ground yet to cover in the relationship arena. What IS definite is their desire to go to that place together—to discover if theirs is a love that can last a lifetime. I, for one, dear reader sincerely hope that is the case, for theirs is a story that deserves an ever after— a together, always!
I highly recommend Red + Blue by A.B. Gayle. It is a 5 star read!