Krung Thep, City of Angels
Marco is travelling on his own for the first time and realizes that magazines and television shows are not indicative of the reality of travelling in a city like Bangkok.
Chris is older, a seasoned traveler and journalist, and although he notices Marco in the airport, he never expects to see the energetic young man again. A chance encounter on the streets of Bangkok brings the men together and for some reason, Chris, ever the loner, feels the need to guide Marco in his travels. The men hit it off quickly, and get off after a day of touring, but their lives seem incompatible, the first-time traveler and the seasoned veteran, their destinies pulling them in different directions.
I was taken with this story the first time I read it in the Two Tickets to Paradise anthology and the second time around did not disappoint. The story was solid, and both Marco and Chris were well developed and enjoyable to follow. That Kensington took that as a jumping off point for a longer story was exciting for me.
Note: This short story was originally released as part of Dreamspinner’s Two Tickets to Paradise anthology and has now be released as a standalone and the first book in The Traveler and the Tourist series. The short is currently available for free at Dreamspinner and other sources.
Two weeks after meeting Chris in Bangkok, Marco must return home to L.A. and leave Chris behind. The period of separation affects the two men as they reminisce about the brief period that they spent together. In the three months since they separated, communication has been sparse until one day Marco receives an email letting him know that Chris was coming to L.A. on assignment.
Their reunion shows that the spark is still there, but Marco is still in the closet and reluctant to address his sexuality with his family, knowing that the reaction would be terrible. A dinner with Marco’s mom and dad leads to a blow up that proves the men may not be as compatible as previously thought, and a family emergency forces Chris to return to New York. Even with the anger and turmoil, the only person Chris wants to be with is Marco. The phone call is made, but will the men be able to forgive each other?
Finally Home progressed at a steady pace and did not have any big ups and downs at first, making me wonder where the story was going, until around the middle when Chris and Marco had a huge argument, which I felt should have probably happened sooner. Once it did, things felt “right” to me, or at least more realistic in Marco and Chris’ world. They could not continue on the way they were without something happening. The funny thing is that once the dam broke, it was one thing after another and never once did I feel like these plot points were contrived or unnecessary.
Kensington had created two very distinct and complex characters in Krung Thep, City of Angels and continued to build on that foundation, as well as to add in the families, which had been touched upon previously. The addition of these secondary characters truly humanized the men and added further depth and a better understanding of their motivations and choices. Marco’s fear of coming out was fleshed out and honestly felt warranted, and Chris’ attitude toward his family was shown to have been somewhat justified.
I would definitely recommend both the short story, Krung Thep, City of Angels, as well as Finally Home for the excellent characters, story, and the realistic plot points. The pace may have been a little sluggish in Finding Home, but life is like that sometimes.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.