Being a parent is a challenge for anyone, but Gabe has to contend with a few extra hurdles: he’s single, and his adopted son, Ian, has had some emotionally traumatic experiences in his past. Oh, and Ian is gender fluid. Gabe is sympathetic and supportive of his son’s choices when it comes to self-expression. Then Ian wants to start wearing feminine clothing to school. Gabe is worried about bullying, but Ian’s teacher is nothing if not cooperative. Soon, Ian has designs to play an angel in his school’s Christmas play and the father-and-son combo find themselves in need of an angel costume.
Loren works in his sister’s sewing shop and is unapologetic when it comes to expressing his personal, gender fluid sense of style. When Gabe walks into Loren’s workplace with a pattern for an angel costume, Loren is keen to find out more about the hot, single father of one. There is an immediate spark between Loren and Gabe and it only grows as Loren and Ian bond over pretty clothes. But Loren’s last relationship left him wary of commitment and he is afraid Gabe’s acceptance of Ian and Loren’s self-expression is only superficial. Similarly, Gabe is concerned about introducing Ian to new people if they aren’t going to stick around.
But as Ian explores what it means to be himself, Gabe finds himself reaching for Loren for support—for his son and for himself. Loren loves the commitment Gabe shows towards his son. What will it take for these three to realize they are perfect complements for each other?
Pattern for an Angel is a sweet get together story. It features a cast of delighfully queer characters and I thought these characters were very positive representations for the community. For example, Gabe demonstrates his support of Ian’s sartorial choices in multiple ways. Gabe ensures Ian will have support at school by contacting Ian’s teacher and Gabe lets Ian make his own choices when things turn a bit sour at school. There’s also the scene where Gabe (who identifies as cis-male) tries wearing feminine clothing to Ian’s holiday production as a demonstration of his unwavering support for both Ian and his own date, Loren.
There was a good balance between scenes with Gabe and Ian, and with Loren. There was a small supporting cast of characters that helped make the MCs feel more dimensional—specifically Gabe and Loren’s sisters. Our romantic interests both have personal issues that make them wary of immediately starting a relationship with each other. I appreciated that the sisters offered emotional support to their brothers; it made me feel like they all were connected. Loren has trust issues after his last longterm boyfriend started shaming Loren for wearing feminine clothes; Gabe’s mother cannot accept a bisexual son and has cut him (and Ian) out of her life. Including these backgrounds and having both principal and supporting characters acknowledge them made the story more meaningful to me that just a get-together.
For me, the only criticism relates to Ian. For a five-year old, I thought his dialogue was somewhat stiff. It seemed like Ian was interacting with the adults as an adult. I also felt a bit like Ian was sort of a convenience for the sake of the plot. Granted, the get-together hinges on the kid’s costume, but I didn’t notice many scenes where Ian didn’t somehow figure as a bridge to connect Gabe to Loren. This is overtly present when Gabe first meets Loren—a man who proudly wears whatever he wants—and hopes to at least have Loren served as a positive role model for Ian. But after meeting Loren, it kind of felt like every hiccup Gabe and Ian encountered as Ian explores his gender expression was linked in some way to Loren.
On the whole, I thought this was a sweet, lightly holiday-themed, get-together romance. There is an obvious romance thread, but the main characters have been given backstories that definitely influence how fast that romance develops. If you are looking for a feel good romance with a big old happily ever after, Pattern for an Angel is a great choice.