New Orleans Second LinesRating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Matt and Lane were the best of friends growing up. When Matt’s alcoholic father abused him, Lane and their clubhouse was his safe space. Lane knew he was gay and in love with Matt, but even when Matt came out to Lane, Lane still kept his feelings a secret. Being Matt’s roommate in college was a slow kind of torture for Lane as he saw one guy after the next leave Matt’s bed. But as college comes to an end, one night has the guys turning to each other. However, in the light of day, Matt is gone to California without a real goodbye while Lane heads back to New Orleans.

Five years later and the guys have lost touch and Lane is still living in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hits, Lane won’t leave without Sebastian, the older man who is his landlord and close friend. When supplies are running low, it’s Matt that shows up to help and to get Lane back. Matt also becomes close with Sebastian and sets out to capture his story on film of being gay in New Orleans in a past era. As Sebastian relives his past, he may also finally be able to accept a second chance at love.

This book starts out with Matt and Lane and captures their friendship. Told from mostly Lane’s POV, we see how he has always been in love with Matt, but while he’s admitted to himself that he is gay, he hasn’t told anyone else. Matt is also is love with Lane, but any self esteem has been beaten out of him by his father and thinks he will never be good enough for Lane and also thinks that Lane is straight. This is my kind of story with childhood friends becoming lovers, but the delivery was bland and flat for me. The story moved quickly and key elements were left out, specifically the evolution of Matt’s relationship with Lane parents. There was also that longing and emotion missing for me given the story we were being told.

Lane and Matt’s entire story is complete at just over the 30% mark in the book and felt rushed. The story then shifts to Sebastian and I kept waiting for it to come back to Lane and Matt, but that wasn’t the story. This book was originally published as three individual novellas: the first being the story of Lane and Matt, the second the story of Sebastian’s past, and then the third being Sebastian’s second chance at love. Matt and Lane then became background characters here for 70% of the book. I could see how this style would have worked for separate books, but as one complete novel the book did not flow well for me.

Sebastian was an interesting character and we learn all about his adventures as a youth and then life with a partner for 20 years. He then meets a new man, Ray, and tries to adjust to falling in love in his 70s. Ray and Sebastian are dapper gentlemen and court each other and their story is sweet. It just took me too long to get into this book and this author’s style may just not be for me. I liked the story within a story appeal, but not this specific delivery.

It’s an interesting premise though, second chances for both men in their 20s and as well as men in their 70s. In the end it felt disjointed and didn’t hold my attention all the way through, but perhaps it will appeal to you more.

Note: This book was originally published as Pinky Swear, Pioneers, and C’est La Vie by Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure, 2010 

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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