Rating: 4 stars
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Hugo and Kevin meet in high school. Both boys are struggling with family issues that leave them vulnerable and lonely. For Hugo, grappling with his father’s cancer has been a several year long process with death looming in the future from the start of his Dad’s diagnoses. Kevin also has issues with his father, but his are far more subtle. Kevin’s father is controlling to the point where most, if not all, of Kevin’s friends are chosen for their family’s ability to further his father’s career. Everything is about success for Mr. Magnus, including monitoring his son’s life to the point where he dictates everything from how his son dresses to with whom he hangs out. Hugo lives a life that has centered around his father’s illness; Kevin lives a life centered around gaining his father’s approval.
When Hugo declares to his family he is gay, he is accepted and embraced for who he is, but Kevin must hide his bisexuality for fear of his father’s wrath and disgust. The two boys become fast friends and one moment in a park turns them into lovers. For two years, through Kevin’s stint with a girlfriend to “mask” his sexuality and get his father off his back, these two boys grow closer and closer. Then college intervenes and the two lose contact with each other. Years later, Kevin meets up with Hugo again. Kevin is in the midst of divorce and still deep in the closet. When the two realize they still have affection for each other, Hugo must make a decision to divulge his secret and possibly scare Kevin away or bide his time and hold onto the love of his life.
In her novel, Spark, Posy Roberts writes a beautiful coming of age story that morphs into a gentle tale of self-discovery and renewed love. Her characters are rich—fully fleshed out and completely believable. Kevin and Hugo both go through many stages from young teens grappling with their sexuality and the pangs of young love, to men who must make decisions that ultimately may affect those they love. Her secondary characters are important to her story line, both adding flavor to the story and furthering the plot. Every interaction has purpose and each one manages to reveal just a bit more about the main characters.
While the story had no big conflicts or dramatic moments, I still felt it was a compelling story to read. The author created interesting people whose lives I enjoyed learning about. Perhaps the only drawback to this story was that their seemed to be a fair bit of repetition. I understand that the author really wanted us to experience the doubts and fears that affected and influence her men over the years. However, I felt that these same feelings were a bit belabored and reflected on just once to often. As a result, I felt the pacing tended to drag at times and the story suffered a bit as a result. I found myself thinking we’d seen this scene before and felt no need to revisit it again.
The story leaves our two men with a happy for now ending and some plot points unresolved. I felt this was really well done—just enough was left open ended enough for me to want to pick up the next book in the series. All in all this was a lovely story that was a delight to read. I will definitely be picking up the next novel in this series.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.