Ashland Wells is a Scottish actor whose role as a wolf shifter has landed him cult status at all the conventions. He’s closeted, only out to his brother and his bodyguard, and a virgin though he’s nearly thirty. His friend from acting school came out years ago and got blacklisted, so Ash isn’t down for revealing his sexuality, even now that he’s successful. While appearing at a con in Toronto, Ash has a run in with a zealous fan, Remy Beaumont, who stumbles into Ash in a very compromising way. They laugh it off and have a great gag photo together, yet Ash can’t stop thinking about the quirky young man.
The con ends and Ash plans a day of solitary sightseeing, yet he runs into Remy at a mostly deserted museum exhibit on sci-fi media. Remy’s a regular there, as he’s a grad student studying folklore, myth, and monster tales. Having just seen Ash up close and personal, Remy recognizes him straight away. They strike up a conversation and Ash is a bit more smitten at Remy’s casual and comforting ways. They end up having lunch together and spending far more time in each other’s company than they expected. And, it’s refreshing to Ash in a way he hasn’t felt since becoming famous.
Fast forward six months and Ash is preparing for his role on a pilot that features many myth-type characters; Ash himself is acting as a brownie—a gay brownie. The whole cast features characters (and actors) that fall into the LGBTQ spectrum, though Ash is still loath to come out. Ash’s struggle becomes even more difficult when Remy turns up on set as an intern in the writing corps. His thesis on myths and monsters seemed a perfect resumé to serve as a consultant for the show. Their reunion is awkward, because Ash very much wants to be near Remy, but he doesn’t want others to know how smitten he is. Still, he does invite Remy to a few of the cast outings and they run into each other around town, too. Remy gives Ash cooking lessons in exchange for Ash buying the groceries and Remy getting some free meals.
The more time they spend together, the more difficult it is for Ash to hide his attraction to Remy. Remy is very flattered that Ash desires him, and he’s sensitive to Ash’s lack of experience. They take the physical aspect VERY slowly, in a respectful way. Ash’s biggest problems are the emotional struggles he sets before himself, and it makes him double- and triple-think everything. The show seems to be going well, the pilot is optioned and the first season is growing tons of fans, but homophobic haters try to spoil everything. Ash’s fears that appearing non-straight would limit his job options and fan support seem to be reinforced by this drama. While Remy is sensitive to Ash’s need for discretion, he’s also hurt when Ash plays off their growing intimacy when they aren’t alone. So, Ash needs to choose: his comfortable bubble, or the man who makes his heart soar.
This is a really tender romance, with only glimpses of physical intimacy between the characters. Ash’s struggle to find a middle ground with Remy only makes both of them miserable, because his middle ground is such a teeny closet that they both can’t fit in. Remy is a delight and such a giving man; it’s easy to see why Ash fell head over heels, and also why he can’t bear to let Remy walk away. The rising tension of issues for the show parallel Ash’s personal struggles, and the advice on both sides is the same: be true to your story and people will love you for it. Ash’s crisis happens at a tough time professionally, but he manages to convince Remy that their love is something he is proud of, even if haters think it’s unconventional. This one felt awesome to read, especially at the end, and I’d love to see other books featuring any of the side characters finding their true loves.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.