Emerson Robinette is angry. The life he once envisioned has taken a back seat to his recent diagnosis of Multiple sclerosis. Confronted by the daily realities of his disease and the limitations he feels it has imposed on him, Emerson has spent the last few months retreating from the world. He goes to work as a GED teacher and occasionally goes to a favored club, but the truth is he exists without really living. And then happenstance brings the indomitable Obie Magoviney into his life.
Obie is everything Emerson isn’t. He comfortable in his own skin, knows what he wants, and lives life with a vibrant positivity. He isn’t blind to the hurdles that a relationship with Emerson could mean, but he’s willing to take the risk. Getting Emerson to do the same will be Obie’s biggest challenge and one neither of them can’t afford to loose.
Gays of Our Lives is an unusual mix of the wonderful and the insanely frustrating. It’s well written and generally evenly paced. There are a few patches that tend to slow the action, but these are brief and don’t pull away the focus from the story. The main characters are rendered as fully dimension creations that truly step off the page to greet the reader. And none more so than Obie. He’s a charming, sweet puppy of a soul and it’s impossible not to adore him. He’s a man who has worked through the oft times agonizing process of discovering himself and come out the other side stronger for the process. His positive embrace of the world is a choice he actively makes and, while he sometimes comes off as a little too gullible, it’s refreshing to see a character that actively rejects cynicism. He isn’t foolish enough to believe nothing bad can happen. Instead he embraces life and makes the best of bad situations. Which I think is the kind of person we all wish we could be.
But as much as I liked Obie, I disliked Emerson. I believe that as readers we’re supposed to find him abrasive, rude, and grumpy and I can accept all of those traits. But I also found him to be a man consumed by his own misery to such an extent that he was downright unpleasant. He’s been dealt a blow with his MS diagnosis and, while his depression and anger makes sense, I got the impression that Emerson was probably a miserable SOB even before his diagnosis. He’s a man using his illness as excuse to hide from the world and doing so with dedication. Obie slowly softens him, but Emerson never achieved the kind of character growth that I would have hoped. He’s not under developed or even un-relatable and we’ve all met people like Emerson. As with Obie, he’s a well drawn character with plenty of definition, but one that I just couldn’t bring myself to like. Other readers may feel differently, but I feel Emerson will turn more readers off than on. My only other gripe with the book is the mention of a murder early on that goes absolutely nowhere. It has no purpose to the overall story, but given how the author focused on it so intently (albeit briefly), I thought it would come into play at some point. That said, Gays of Our Lives is a part of a wider series and perhaps it makes more sense in the context of the other books, but it definitely left a big plot hole dangling.
Gays of Our Lives is a well-written narrative with multi-dimensional characters that will hit most readers on a visceral level. I think most will either love Obie and Emerson or be split down the middle like me. And while I can’t fault the author for creating wonderfully complex personalities, I found myself so disliking Emerson that it was hard to find any connection to his character. But despite this, or perhaps because of it, Gays of Our Lives is still a compelling read and bound to satisfy anyone looking for a romance between two men who are far from perfect.