Eight years ago, Darren Moran was a Trinity College student in Dublin taking a new apartment with Garrett O’Mahony, a fellow student and star athlete. That Darren found Garrett tantalizing was without question. Circumstances, including broken showers and drunken celebrations, led to some uncomfortable revelations between them. One, that Garrett was a deeply closeted gay man, and two, that Darren’s unreciprocated crush left him confused and despairing.
Time has passed, and Garrett is a famous rugby player recovering from what may be a career-ending injury. He reaches out to Darren via Facebook. Should Darren allow Garrett access to his life again? It’s only going to bring more hurt, right? But, the nagging sensation that Darren may truly miss out on closure, if nothing else, compels him to accept Garrett’s friend request. Darren knows he’s never truly recovered from that brief and tumultuous connection.
This is a novella, set in Dublin, Ireland. I chose it for my Around the World Challenge because I so rarely read a book set in contemporary Ireland that’s not also urban fantasy. I really wanted to know more about the city and country, but that wasn’t really the experience I got. Instead, the book is really focused on Darren’s mindset, his fears, and expectations. His history with Garrett is related via flashbacks, while his frustration with the lingering homophobia within Irish society is in real time. Darren often comes off sounding bitter, and I was engaged in his beliefs that passing a referendum allowing gay marriage doesn’t undo the stoic homophobic mindset, or remove bigoted persons from society. It’s Darren’s opinion that Garrett’s internalized homophobia prevented Garrett from living a good and honest life, one they could have shared.
That said, the story ends on a hopeful note after Garrett makes his case to a frustrated and cross Darren. Darren, who still struggles to connect to men and is out, but quiet about it. And, Darren, who still carries a lot of conflicted affection for Garrett. I could really feel that stoic Irish mindset in Darren’s narration, and that was the part that took me elsewhere, though I’ve certainly read similar self-loathing viewpoints in other books. I have a sympathy for characters who suffer in silence, and Darren fell into that category for me. I wanted him to get a happy ending, and he pretty much does, so that was good.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for Around the World Challenge Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Riptide Publishing. One lucky winner will receive a selection of print Advanced Review Copies of Riptide books before they are even released (non-US winners will get ebook copies upon release instead). Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Around the World Challenge Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!