heaven can't wait coverRating: 3.25 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella


Nineteen-year-old college student, Brian, is stunned to learn he has died in a car accident. Even worse, his actions in life are evaluated and found wanting, leaving Brian’s soul in limbo. Now, he has two weeks to prove himself by helping to save the life of Kevin Anderson, his friend Chuck’s roommate, if he has any hope of making it to heaven.

Kevin had hoped that college would be different. A chance to make friends and fit in the way he never did in high school. Instead, he almost instantly found himself mocked and bullied by his roommate’s friends for being gay. Kevin does his best to stay out of the way of Chuck, Brian, and the other guys, but he is lonely and unhappy. Kevin is now just biding his time until he can get moved to another room, but in the meantime, he is miserable.

Brian’s goal is to help Kevin, but figuring out what to do for him isn’t easy. Particularly as it seems like Chuck may be interested in Kevin, something Brian never saw coming. However, as Brian comes to some realizations about himself and others, he still has a chance to make things right for everyone.

Heaven Can’t Wait by Eli Easton is a short novella that combines two stories, one focused on the budding romance between Kevin and Chuck, and the other about Brian trying to save himself from hell and damnation by helping save someone else. This book has some engaging elements, but I think where it suffered for me is that there really isn’t enough page time to fully tell either story. The portion that worked the best for me by far is the romantic side. Kevin and Chuck are sweet together and there is some nice sexual tension for them. We learn pretty early on that Kevin is into Chuck, but he never considers that his seemingly straight roommate could like him in return. As the reader, it becomes apparent to us more quickly than it does to Kevin that Chuck likes him back. We learn a little more about Chuck’s backstory to help explain both his staying in the closet, as well as why he doesn’t speak up nearly as firmly as he should when his friends are bullying Kevin for being gay. I would have liked a little more development on this to really see growth and remorse from Chuck, as it felt a little rushed given the short page count. But there is a sweet ending for the guys and fans of new adult, roommates, and coming out stories will likely enjoy seeing them find their way together.

The book’s second plot focuses on Brian and his quest to save Kevin’s life and get his own soul out of limbo. (Just to be clear, this means stopping Kevin from killing himself, so be aware this story touches on the idea of suicide, but it is not explored in any detail.) Unfortunately, this side of the story really didn’t work for me because I found Brian such an unappealing character without nearly enough of a redemption arc. The set up is that Brian has not been a good enough person to make his way to heaven, and so he needs to do this one good act within two weeks to push the scales in the right direction. The implication is that he has been a bad person overall, but the only thing that the story focuses on needing redeeming in any way is Brian’s homophobia. Over the course of the book, we learn about Brian’s cruel, bullying behavior, including mocking Chuck for having a gay roommate (based purely on Kevin’s appearance, since they didn’t know he was gay at that point). He does so mercilessly and enthusiastically, which spurs Chuck’s other friends to join in. At one point, Brian notes:

Yes, Kevin was the kind of guy who deserved being made fun of a bit. Or at least, Brian had always thought that way. If you were going to look like a total dork or a loser or a fag, then how could you expect people not to notice? Not to comment on it, or tease? He wasn’t blind. It wasn’t like he would have hurt the guy. He wasn’t the kind of person who would push someone’s head in a toiler or anything like that. And he didn’t care if people were gay as long as they were gay over there somewhere.

In a flashback, when a teenage Chuck tests the waters by asking Brian what he would think if one of his friends was gay, Brian responds:

“Of course it matters!” Brian looked at Chuck like he was crazy. “I’m not gonna be friends with some guy who wants to bone me. That’s disgusting!”

I think this could have all worked if we had time to see Brian really grow and change, but this story is too short, particularly with its divided plot, for that growth arc he really needs. Brian does ultimately intervene to help get Kevin and Chuck together toward the end, and he notes that in his heavenly body he “didn’t feel disgusted at all” the way he would have in his human one when he sees Kevin and Chuck having sex (which isn’t exactly ditching the homophobia). But the jump he makes to suddenly have this major change of viewpoint at the very end of the story feels very out of nowhere and very unearned. This is a guy who is still referring to people as either “gay” or “normal” until close to the end of the book. He doesn’t feel like he has learned or grown, just had this sudden change. Brian also never really has significant self reflection on his past behavior, on the person he was, on where he went wrong, etc. So I just found this side of the story didn’t work for me and I didn’t enjoy Brian as a character.

One element I did like here is that we get POVs from both Brian and Kevin, so sometimes we are seeing Brian’s intervention from his viewpoint and other times from Kevin’s. It was fun to see things from Kevin’s eyes when we know as readers Brian is manipulating the situation (like pushing a pen off the table to spur on a conversation between Kevin and a cute guy at the nearby table). So I thought that set up works well to play into the bit of a supernatural element, as well as to give us viewpoints that fit both parts of the larger story.

And as last note, this book was originally released back in 2014 by Dreamspinner Press and this review is for the re-released, self published version. Per the author, it has new cover and edited content, but I am not clear how much of the story has changed. There were a couple of moments that felt a bit dated (do college students set up racks of CDs in their dorm rooms anymore?), but generally, I think it holds up over the ten years since the original version was released.

I think the set up here is a good one and I liked Kevin and Chuck’s journey. And Easton’s writing style is something I always enjoy and I’m a huge fan of her work. But I think this book was just not long enough to do justice to both portions of the story, and Brian’s growth and redemption arc just didn’t feel complete enough. However, readers looking for a quick novella focused on a new adult romance may still enjoy this one.

jay signature