Luck, Laughter, and Love is a two-book anthology by Willa Okati.
Harper is in big trouble. Not only has his computer decided to fry itself, but it took with it all the drafts of the new project he is working on—the project that was due yesterday, is possibly his ticket to the big time as a scriptwriter, and is the reason he is experiencing writer’s block. Basically, Harper is dead—his career that is. At his wit’s end, he stumbles into his kitchen to see a naked man—an impossibly sexy naked man who introduces himself as Rory, his muse, and states he is there to help Harper over his current writing slump. Well that‘s that; Harper has finally lost it and is sure he is now hallucinating on top of everything else. But the guy doesn’t just go poof—he stays and things begin to happen!
Then other people can see him and Harper must face the fact that Rory is indeed his muse and possibly his future is not ruined. Between the ideas that are now flowing and the sex that is out of this world, Harper is finally feeling like himself again. Plus, he kind of likes the guy, could definitely convince himself to keep him around, but Rory apparently has an expiration date (at least the guy who calls himself the Clerk says so). But there has to be a loophole, some way he can keep Rory, some way the man he is falling in love with can stay with him forever.
A-Muse-ing was originally published over a decade ago and the novel has had some changes made to it and been rereleased along with another story in this anthology. I must say, this book has weathered it’s time fairly well and is both humorous and endearing. Rory is a oversexed fireball who pulls an admittedly reluctant Harper out of his slump and into the land of the living. Along the way, the two fall in love, but Rory is always aware that his time is limited and he can’t stay with Harper no matter how much he might want to anyway.
The dynamic between Harper and Rory, alongside the relationship between Harper and Janie, his former writing partner, and Patrick, his worrisome snake of an ex-boyfriend, all combine to make this book pretty fast paced with lots of rollicking fun moments. I found Rory to be such a fun character and the way he woke Harper up and pushed him back into being the creative and confident writer he once was is the best part of the story. Rory brought out the best in everyone he meets—even the brassy Janie, who also became one of my favorites.
If I had to complain about the story, it would have to be that there is just a bit too much sex that, in my opinion, begins to interrupt the flow and, frankly, becomes more bothersome than fun to me. Sometimes less is more and I’m not sure the story needed continuous sex that often made the novel feel like it was on crack and, I feel, sacrificed the advancement of the plot just to emphasize that Rory is a very sexual being. I loved the sections where the two men finally interacted with other characters and the deadline loomed nearer, making the need for a solution to keeping Rory earthbound more imperative—that is the stuff great stories are made of, in my opinion.
Overall, A-Muse-ing is an entertaining read. I did find the mystical element of Rory being this otherworldly being who is not quite real, yet corporeal and able to love, a refreshing take on the paranormal trope. The novel has weathered the passage of time fairly well and still makes for an amusing romance that satisfies. (3.5 stars)
Because It’s True
I liked this second novel much better than the first in this anthology. This is a story about Gavin, who has shut out everyone from his life due to being left at the altar by a wannabe actor type who swept him off his feet and then left him with a broken heart. Gavin swears he will never be a fool for love again and has walled himself and his heart off from the possibility, until he meets Ford. Ford is a giant of a man with a strong belief that there are signs in everyday life that guide him and his actions. When he sees such markers while delivering a package to the place Gavin works, he is convinced that the man he next meets, currently on the very service elevator he is waiting for, is the man he will fall in love with and marry. That man is Gavin and Ford falls fast, but Gavin is not buying it—not Ford’s love or his ability to see signs, at least not right away.
While the premise of the story definitely lends itself to the instalove trope, there is such sincerity about Ford and his behavior that somehow the whole story becomes not only palatable, but really quite sweet. It is nearly impossible not to fall in love with Ford. From his happy outlook on life, to his remarkable kindness and care for Gavin, he is everything one would want in a boyfriend. Even the scenes of intimacy feel different in this novel. While they arrive later in the book, they are quite plentiful as the story goes on and yet they never seem to interrupt the flow of the story, but rather add to it.
There is no rush to bring Gavin out of his protective shell either. The author allows the character to remain true to himself—wary and hesitant to commit to even a first date with Ford. Both Gavin and Ford felt more real to me with each moment they are together. Every moment feels like it is used to further develop who they are and what makes them tick. I found myself really rooting for them to get together and for Gavin, in particular, to find happiness and love again. (4.5 stars)
Willa Oakti’s stories, both more than a decade old, have weathered the time fairly well. I enjoy how this author creates unique story lines to deliver both a bit of fantasy and lots of romance. All in all , Luck, Laughter and Love is a nice two-story collection that deserves the reboot the author has chosen to give it.