Rating: 3.75 stars
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Lily Blunt’s You’re My Everything is an anthology of previously released, but re-edited and updated, short stories, all celebrating gay romance.
Happy Anniversary, Jasper is the first story and probably one of my favorites in the anthology. Nathan has arrived at his and Jasper’s special restaurant to celebrate their tenth anniversary. Always early, Nathan sits at the table reminiscing about their friends-to-lovers relationship. These memories and first-person narration draw us into the story, ensuring that the reader shares the intensity of Nathan’s emotions and the sense that for this couple the relationship is about “never-ending love and commitment.” For me, the way that Nathan talks about Jasper is the way everyone wants to be thought of by their partner. Without wanting to spoil Happy Anniversary, Jasper because this is really a short story worth reading, I could not reach its end without shedding a tear and I think any author who can involve their reader that much in just a few pages has a very rare talent.
Over the Rainbow is the longest story in the anthology and another one I really enjoyed. After reading Happy Anniversary, Jasper, the reader needs the light-hearted humor and sweetness of Over the Rainbow, though there are also more important undertones of acceptance in the story. Dorian is an English teacher at an all-boys’ school, infatuated with his mentor and head of department, Mark Leonard. Relatively new to teaching at the school, Dorian finds himself talked into playing Dorothy in the end-of-year production of The Wizard of Oz. Spending time together, learning lines and lesson planning, Dorian is unsure whether Mark is gay, until Dorian sees Mark’s very obvious reaction to his Dorothy costume, complete with lacy panties. As Mark’s sexuality is a secret at the school, can the two men find a way to make their romance work?
Although Over the Rainbow is still a short story, it is the only one in the anthology that has secondary characters and the development of the relationship between Tim and Brian is as significant as the one between Dorian and Mark. Due to the longer length, Blunt does have time to flesh out her characters and story and this is really reflected in Over the Rainbow‘s entertainment value. I really enjoyed the build-up of sexual tension between Dorian and Mark and to a lesser degree, Tim and Brian, though I still found myself invested in this relationship too. I loved the scene where Dorian first tries on his costume and inadvertently reveals his underwear fetish to Mark, probably more so because this does not end up with the men ravishing one another. Instead, Blunt ensures we are aware of the lust, but also that Mark is “hesitant and unsure.” The aftermath of The Wizard of Oz performance makes for an appropriate and heart-warming ending to Over the Rainbow and I nearly found myself cheering out loud!
Opposites Attract is, as the title suggests, a story about two men in an established relationship who are opposites. This is the only story in Blunt’s You’re My Everything anthology in which the narration alternates between characters. However, this is a perfect choice in Opposites Attract because the issue between Chris and Andreas is lack of communication. The dual narration gives the reader the benefit of having those “ah” moments, as well as the times I just wanted to bang both their heads together!
Chris and Andreas are on an Alpine break and whereas Chris enjoys physical activity, including hiking and cycling, Andreas is happy enjoying the spa facilities and reading by the pool. Whilst Chris realizes he might be taking advantage of his younger partner, Andreas wants to find his hidden spirit of adventure. I admit that I did not like Chris very much because he is happy to leave Andreas alone on this couple’s holiday, rather than trying to compromise. Yet, despite his outgoing nature, Chris reveals his vulnerability as Blunt allows her reader further insight into his thoughts and feelings. Conversely, Andreas proves he is more than someone who is “in charge of shopping for food and cooking” because he is willing to conquer his fear in order to spend quality time with his partner. Though Opposites Attract did not always hold my attention because of the couple’s focus of the physical aspect of their relationship, I thought the message the story conveys is an important and universal one.
You Can’t Stop Loving Someone Just Like That simply left me with feelings of confusion when I reached its end! Corey is eighteen and for years has been in love with his best friend, Jack, though this is unrequited because Jack is straight. Corey now has an exchange student, Pierre, staying in his home and the attraction between them is about to erupt.
You Can’t Stop Loving Someone Just Like That is told in first-person by Corey, but this shifts from his present with Pierre to flashbacks with Jack. Corey is clearly trying to examine his own feelings for these two young men, but his turmoil is not helped by events that take place. I thought it was a shame that Corey appeared so immature, first by declaring his love for Pierre after three weeks and then by his actions. Though I liked the fact that Blunt has included a young adult story in You’re My Everything, I think the context in which Corey uses the title line at the end of the book was wrong and farcical.
Service With a Smile, in which Terry walks into a designer boutique because he wants “the trim young assistant,” is possibly the most erotic of the stories in the anthology, though it does have a romantic twist at the end. As in Opposites Attract, Blunt shows that she is not afraid to write man-on-man sexual action and I think the ambiguity surrounding these two men makes the scene more exciting for the reader.
Without You, the final story which beautifully ends You’re My Everything, takes the reader back to Nathan and Jasper. It would be remiss of me to give any synopsis here because this would spoil the reader’s enjoyment of both stories.
Without You, along with the rest of the anthology, reminds the reader that love is love, no matter someone’s sexuality. Blunt’s stories encompass several tropes and I am sure there is a story within You’re My Everything to suit every reader. It is true that I enjoyed some stories more than others, but I would still recommend this anthology to fans of gay romance.