Dylan is left reeling when his long-term lover kicks him out of their apartment. A month later, struggling to move on, Dylan decides to order an escort. Unfortunately, his escort turns out to be the father of one of his students. Suddenly Dylan’s professional and personal lives become uncomfortably entangled. In the midst of this chaos, Dylan lets his 19-year-old neighbor, Hunter, move in to escape his abusive parents. Dylan isn’t exactly a knight in shining armor, but he won’t allow the kid to continue living in a dangerous situation.
As he deals with an increasingly difficult professional crisis, Dylan is offered a second chance with his ex-lover, Klark, the man he loves more than anything. And while Klark seems intent on making changes and improvements to their relationship, Dylan isn’t so sure he can trust the man. Sometimes its hard to let the past go, even when a better future is standing in front of you.
Reviewing The Man Who Wore a Heart of Stone was…challenging. The book has very little to recommend itself and on more than one occasion I set it aside as a DNF. The pacing is generally good, and while the writing isn’t particularly strong, it is better than some. Unfortunately that’s where the positives end. The plot is meandering at best and barely tangible at worst. There is no real resolution (perhaps there’s a sequel on the way) and it doesn’t seem as though Dylan really moves past any of the hurdles in his life.
Nearly all of the characters in this book are jerks. Save for Hunter, they are almost impossible to connect with on any meaningful level because they’re so busy being horrible towards one another. There is very little to redeem any of them, again aside from Hunter, but it’s almost irrelevant because most are just stereotypes and caricatures without significant depth or development. There is also a rather excessive lack of believability in the characters, their actions, and the typecasts they represent. For example, we’re told towards the end of the book that Dylan is in love with Hunter. But I have no idea why. They have sex (their first encounter being violent and borderline abusive) and they offer moments of comfort to one another. But they have no actual relationship and I never understood why Hunter would care for a man that openly cheated on him, lacked empathy, and generally failed to care about anyone other than himself. In another instance, we’re introduced to Hugh, a Christian fundamentalist who happens to be married and in the closet. He and his wife are described as bigoted and close-minded. Of course we all know people like this exist, but even their child is described as an extremist and used as a source of derision by Dylan. I appreciate that stereotypes exist for a reason, but using them for every character and doing so to the extreme fails to provide any sense of reality.
The author tends to wax philosophical about all manner of subjects including the LGBTQ community, religion, atheism, education, etc., but does so with such broad generalizations that it often comes off as arrogant and devoid of purpose. I was actually a bit offended by the portrayal of the educational system and its teachers and administrators as all narrow minded and vindictive. I am well aware that those in the LGBTQ community have experienced discrimination, especially in the private school sector. But having been a teacher, and worked in positive situations with both LGBTQ students and staff, I find it difficult to believe that all of Dylan’s interactions within the educational system were negative.
I can’t recommend The Man Who Wore a Heart of Stone. There are too many stereotypes, too many unrealistic situations, and too much negativity. The characters aren’t particularly likeable, the plot is non-existent, and the book never gives its readers a reason to connect with it. I’d have to give this one a pass.