Aziah will tell you that he’s a big guy, as he’s tall and muscular. He will also tell you that he’s black, not because this is a story about race, but it’s just who he is. He will tell you that people are afraid of him sometimes because of his size and his color, but he’s a gentle guy and will help anyone in need. He always had a hard time fitting in, but he has a job, he has family that loves him, and he likes to write in his journal.
Gerald approaches Aziah at the gym one night and the men begin a relationship quickly. But Gerald has many demons competing for space in his genius brain. As a young boy in West Virginia, he witnessed his mother commit murder and Gerald was then sent to a school for boys. He was later recruited by the Army for secret intelligence work. There, he became addicted to drugs and was then thrown out when he didn’t do well with respecting authority. He made his way to Los Angeles, found sporadic work as a dancer, and latched onto Aziah.
Aziah is in awe that a beautiful man like Gerald wants to be with him. But Gerald disappears for days and nights with no contact and becomes more paranoid with each drug-fueled encounter. When Aziah finally reaches his limit, it’s up to Gerald to find help in time to save them both.
The published blurb for this book states that this story is inspired by true events and that is what immediately drew me to this one. After reading it, I cannot tell you for sure if that is in fact true or if the statement just fits in well with the style of the story.
Aziah is the narrator throughout the book and he talks out of the page often, as if he is having a conversation with us. That style when done well can be both an enjoyable and unique read. My main issue here is that I did not care for Aziah, Gerald, or the story Aziah was telling. Now both guys have had rough issues in their lives, Gerald of course more so, but the author did not grab my empathy for either character. Also, this book is marketed as a romance and it doesn’t exhibit many signs of a being romance and even walks a fine line for me to be classified as a love story. Oh Aziah will tell you he is in love with Gerald, but it did not have the makings of a love story and any love seen was definitely one sided.
Aziah has never found his place in life. He has a big heart and gets taken advantage of often. By the time he finishes describing all of the ways he has been taken advantage of Gerald appears on the scene, scopes him out, the men hook up immediately, and Aziah is completely taken with Gerald. Now when Aziah first meets Gerald he appears stable, but not so slowly Gerald’s true nature emerges as he disappears for days and returns strung out. We never do see exactly what happens to Gerald while he disappears, but various conclusions can be drawn. Then the paranoia and conspiracy theories start. Throughout all of this we are told the story of Gerald’s past and the story at times did not read as contemporary. Gerald did grow up in a small town, but some of his dialogue was reminiscent of an era gone by.
It was not often clear just what the status of their relationship was even when they were spending time together. At one point, Aziah mentions the sex that they were having as if we should have been aware of this, but except for the first time there is little if any reference to them being intimate. Gerald will tell Aziah all about how he is his future, but Gerald had so many issues and even though he may not have intended it ,he was just another in a line of people taking advantage of Aziah.
Aziah writes in his journal and this had the effect of pulling me out of the story as opposed to pulling me in further. Add to the scene one long lost sister and some religion and given the already shaky foundation established, this just added more weight to the narrative and there were few areas that ultimately held my interest. There was no solid ending and Aziah knows it and apologizes for it, but that’s all he’s got at the moment. There could be an audience for this book, but this was not for me and not to my liking.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.