Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story
Jim and Gary met Harley Manfield their sophomore year in college when Harley declared them best friends. And they were. Roommates and soul mates. Jim, Gary, and Harley shared their lives, bought a home, and grew into men together. They were family, always together, always supportive. When his job moves him to Maine, Jim keeps in touch with his friends. When Gary moves to New York for his career, Jim makes a point to call and travel to Atlanta as often as possible to spend time with Harley.
Years go by and contact with Harley and travel to Atlanta lessens, and when the call comes in the middle of the night, Jim is devastated. The voice of Eric, the kid Harley saved, on the other end of the phone. Harley Manfield, generous, beautiful, giving Harley, passed in the middle of the night. Cancer.
When Jim and Gary return to Atlanta, Jim discovers things about Harley that he only ever dreamed. The love and loss of a man he’d all but avoided for the past several years. And then there is Eric, the man who fell in love with Harley when Harley couldn’t love him back, the man who took care of Harley until his dying breath. Jim needs a new start, needs to find himself again. And Eric needs to find his independence and his happiness. But can Jim ever forgive himself in order to see the hope and the possible Christmas miracle standing in front of him?
You know, I really should be prepared for the tears that I will shed when I open a book by T.A. Webb. Just about every time I read one of his stories I end up in tears. His Name was Harley Manfield is such a beautiful, moving piece. It’s a story of love, loss, and hope. It’s a heartwarming holiday story that I am certain I will continue to read over and over again.
I adore Jim. His unrequited love and ignorance of the knowledge that his best friend loved him back made me love Jim all the more. His heart is huge. His hope is abundant. Eric is the man left behind. The young man that Harley saved from a life in the streets. He had a serious case of hero worship, a love that was never returned – not how he’d expected it to be. I loved Harley’s role in this story. I love that the man who was merely a memory on paper was larger than life. It just made me want to know the man with a heart of gold. I adore that he is the reason that the two men in his life found one another.
Webb is a master storyteller, a wordsmith of perfection. From start to finish I was in love with these characters and this story. The story is a very short, very sweet read, and for such a short tale, it’s absolutely engrossing. A story of unrequited love and the hope of a new love. A story of new beginnings.
My only quibble is with the lack relationship building between Jim and Eric. It felt like the beginning of their relationship was just them turning together to appease their grief. The next thing I knew they were talking about living together. I would have liked a little more growth, maybe they could’ve gotten to know one another better.
Still, the preciousness of this story outweighs any quibble I may have. The heart of this story is the hope for a future, the hope of new love. I don’t know if I could love this story anymore. I highly recommend His Name was Harley Manfield by T.A. Webb.