Convinced a relationship with Christopher is too good to be true, Manny forces himself to let best thing in his life slip through his fingers. And there are good reasons why things would be better if they just called it quits: Christopher can continue on his shooting star trajectory to the top of the box office and Manny can eschew the shame he fears his family will condemn him with if they learn the truth about him. So yeah, it was fun while it lasted, but as soon as Manny realizes he is more invested in the relationship than Christopher and probably always will be, Manny’s ready to bail. Better to have loved and lost on his own terms that risk having his love wither in a closet for the sake of Christopher’s fame.
Christopher not only stars in a hot TV cop drama, but has landed a role in what promises to be a blockbuster movie. Now more than ever, Christopher feels compelled to keep his sexuality firmly in the closet even as he craves a physical connection with another man. He finds Manny through kinkysinglesconnect.com and after a terse initial meeting, sparks flare into fire between them. Christopher is definitely drawn to Manny, using his growing star power to get Manny working as a physical trainer on the movie set and keep the sexy man close. Indeed, Christopher just might be having his cake and eating it too…until Manny assumes being in love means both of them will be out as well and Christopher…doesn’t.
The chemistry between Manny and Chrstopher two is undeniable, but if they can’t overcome the differences in their world views, there’s no hope for a future. Dealing with the pressure of a public life is certainly complex.
While this is definitely a romance book, I was charmed and a bit taken aback by how little the flow sticks to your typical boy-meets-boy structure.
The “charmed” comes from Miller doing a bang-up job portraying Manny. As the narrator of the story, the flavor of his vernacular colors every word. The colloquial English, the inclusion of his Puerto Rican Spanish, and the fact that Miller (through Manny) brilliantly addresses what it’s like to live with stereotypes based on how you speak were brilliant. As far as action goes, I also liked the set up where we start at the present (Manny realizing he loves Christopher and has to break it off) then go back to see how they got together before returning to the present break up. The story also ends on what’s possibly the best not-cliffhanger cliffhanger (and if that word scares you, fear not: Harper Miller has an epilogue that is available for readers of the book to access on her website!).
The “taken aback” comes from my own biases about what I expect when I pick up an m/m romance. Namely, that both characters will be equally developed or at least get equal page time (barring something in the plot that obviously prevents this). What I mean is, even if the two MCs are separated in space/time or in the midst of a breakup or whatever, I’m still conditioned to think we’ll get a chapter with MC1, a chapter with MC2 or a “meanwhile, the other guy is doing this…” or some form of details about what’s happening with the other guy. In Complexity, not so much. If you only read the book as delivered without the epilogue, I definitely got the feeling that Christopher gets the short end of the on-page-time stick. This is bothersome/brilliant because, hey, maybe Manny is 110% justified in kicking Christopher to the curb despite the fireworks while fornicating, right?
Complexity is about a complex relationship, but I think it definitely shines as a portrait of a complex character and how he deals with the events in his life. Although Manny is generally out (as a bisexual, he has no qualms dating the ladies), he’s not come out to his family. Being from what seemed like a conservative family, he’s worried how they will react and especially concerned about what his brother will think. Manny’s got expectations for Christopher as well and I enjoyed watching his struggle to come to terms with the fact that what Manny wanted didn’t and couldn’t fit into Christopher’s world.
A quick word about the online epilogue: although I think it wraps up the baby cliffhanger the novella proper ends on, I thought it lacked the same dazzle of the main story. It’s told from Christopher’s perspective and while that does satisfy my expectations for more equal representation, I found the epilogue pretty dry. After the robust, rich, relatable voice I enjoyed in the main story, Christopher’s POV feels pretty dry. Maybe it was intentional on the author’s part so sort of subtly draw attention to “code switching” (Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with the term, code switching is where people either want to or have to tailor their speech patterns [and probably nonverbal language, style of dress, and more] to match those of the so-called dominant culture; in Complexity, that means Manny is careful to talk like a middle class white American male in some situations and like his true self in others). Even if Miller did want to make a point of highlighting the differences between the two MCs, it was a bit of a let down to see the whole miniature arc end with prose that was less compelling that the prose in the main story.
Overall though, I thought it was a great read! If you’re interested in a cross-cultural story or one featuring a rags-and-riches type of plot, I think you’d like this book!