Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story
Peter may be going crazy. Shayne, his partner of fifteen years, died suddenly and unexpectedly six months ago in a car wreck. Shayne had been in remission after a long and terrible bout with stage-two HIV and was given a new lease on life. Peter spent years taking care of Shayne while he was sick. And now that he had extra time on his hands, Peter started working for a local charity to keep busy. Just when Peter was getting his life back on track, Shayne was taken from him. Unspoken words haunt Peter as he lives a life of regret now.
Therapy isn’t helping. Getting drunk isn’t helping. The only thing that helps Peter breathe normally is Shayne’s phone. It is somewhat of a security blanket for Peter. When he panics over the loss of Shayne, he reaches for the phone. When he misses Shayne so bad it hurts, he calls Shayne’s phone just to hear his voice.
After getting drunk and walking home one night, Peter calls Shayne’s phone again to hear his warm, comforting voice, but is stunned when Shayne actually answers the phone.
Wow! Last Dance with Mary Jane by John Goode took my breath away. It is a heartbreaking story of a man who has lost everyone special in his life and can’t help but think that Fate has it out for him by taking away his one true love. It is a story of forgiveness – forgiveness of one’s self. Peter has to find a way to forgive himself for the things he didn’t say when he had the chance and the actions he didn’t take when Shayne was with him for so many years.
When I read the blurb for this story, I expected something completely different from what I got. But as I was reading, I realized that my imagination was nothing compared to this author. He made this story of anger into one of forgiveness, of hurt into one of healing. I felt Peter’s pain, hurt, regret, and confusion as he walked through his life without the only man he’d ever loved. I was hurt, scared, and confused right along with him. His character is so complex and fragile. Honestly, as a reader, I wasn’t sure whether he was crossing the line to insanity or if the phone calls were even happening. What would you say, what would you do if you had one more chance? The twists and turns along this journey and the choices he is forced to make create a story that had me cheering for Peter, wanting a little relief and a lot less heartache for him.
The title of the book is very creative. Yes, I, along with many others, had Tom Petty singing in my head when I read the title. Rest assured, this book is not about the song…well except maybe “one more time to kill the pain…” maybe. No…the title has more to do with a certain superhero. I won’t give away that tidbit, but it is very cute and clever.
As I’m sure you can tell I really enjoyed Last Dance with Mary Jane by John Goode. It is a love story, no sex and no true happily ever after, more of a happy-for-now if it must be categorized. But it is one of the best happy-for-nows I have read in a while. I’m happy to recommend this story to anyone looking for a lasting love and for a complex but easily loveable character.
Another beautiful cover by Reese Dante – the broken photo frame showing the happy couple that Peter and Shayne were before Shayne’s death, of course the phone with Shayne’s missed call, and the model depicting Peter in the background looking tormented all make a wonderful cover for this story.