Rating: 4.25 stars
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This is a collection of short stories about bisexual men and the difficulties they face by a society that labels them as confused or in experimental limbo until the choice about their sexual identity is finally made. It explores the idea that, oftentimes, they don’t feel accepted by either the gay or straight community. Since this is a bisexual anthology, there are steamy, graphic sex scenes involving both men and women. If the mention of lady parts tends to squick you out, you’ll want to avoid this anthology. If it doesn’t, you should enjoy this well-written, sexy, eye-opening collection.
Songs from Devil Lake by Kelly Rand
Daniel has recently separated from his wife of three years, Salena, after she found evidence of his relationship with Hugo, a dominant he had been seeing to feed his need to relinquish control. Daniel visits his ex-boyfriend, Jude, and Jude’s wife, Celeste, in a desperate attempt to seek direction now that he’s on his own again. In a home set along the beautiful Devil Lake, Jude and Celeste help Daniel see what he truly needs.
This story focuses less on the issue of bisexuality, and more on Daniel’s internal struggle with his need to be submissive in his relationship. He thought he would be able to leave it behind in his relationship with Salena, whom he loves deeply, but found himself returning to the powerful, though not caring, arms of Hugo. Mostly, this story centers around the ways that Jude and Celeste are able to help Daniel both physically and emotionally. The sex is scorching, and the connection that Daniel makes with both Jude and Celeste is palpable. Herein lies the problem. I loved Daniel with Jude, even with Celeste involved in the mix. So, without giving too much away, while this story was well-written and entertaining, it left me unsatisfied in the end.
Syncopation by G.S. Wiley
On an episode of the Ellen Degeneres Show, popular musician Jonathan Tager reveals that he’s a bisexual after a photo surfaces of him kissing a man. He’s starting to feel the ramifications of his revelation, which basically amounts to a lot of upset managers and agents who try to throw him towards women in order to counteract his confession. Along the way, Jon meets a man named Peter on a flight to one of his shows. He pursues the wary Peter, who has two daughters and is worried about the effect Jon’s fame will have on his life.
Out of the three stories, this is the only one that qualifies as a love story. A huge component of this story is the idea that people don’t know what to do with bisexuals. Everyone wants Jon to decide one way or the other — gay or straight? And Jon struggles with trying to explain himself to those who surround him. In the end, he falls in love with Peter, which creates a whole new set of problems. This is a sweet story, and it doesn’t hurt that the whole rock-star element is thrown in there as well. My main complaint was that his relationship with Peter develops quickly, and I didn’t really feel the chemistry between the two. Since this was a short story, I felt the shorter format was a detriment in this case and didn’t allow for the development of a believable relationship.
An Ass Out of You and Me by Lee Cairney
This story begins with a kind of ridiculous situation. Phillip is accidentally on a date with two people — a woman he met at a coffee shop named Gina, and Luis, a man he met online. He has confused the dates, and is trying to shuffle back and forth between the two of them throughout the night. When Luis gets frustrated and leaves, he ends up taking the equally annoyed Gina home so he can explain. Gina is far from repulsed by the idea that Phillip enjoys having sex with men, and the two find an explosive connection. Throw Luis into the story and things get really interesting.
This story is the weakest of the three and a little bit silly, but I enjoyed the characters and the dynamics between the three of them. The biggest weakness was it’s implausibility. Whether it be the self-professed corny movie-plot dinner misunderstanding, or the sexual fluidity of all three characters — one bi, one gay, and one straight (bi?), but all up for anything — it created a bit of a farce of the bisexual lifestyle, which I don’t think was the intent of the author. It also felt unresolved, as it showed hints at a HFN, but also could’ve just been a good one-off for all of the characters involved.
Overall, I enjoyed this anthology. I think the bisexual literature is underrepresented, and was happy to have the opportunity to read and review this collection of stories.