Title: The Far Away Years
Author: LF Blake
Publisher: Torquere Press
Publisher URL: http://www.torquerebooks.com/
Genre: Contemporary, M/M
Rating: 5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Caen Nymph
Jeff and Danny may be best friends and band mates, but their relationship is still rocky at times. Danny, who is hopelessly in love with Jeff, is unfortunately married. However, both men come together and delve into a life that they both one day wish could come true. Spaced over a few years, Jeff and Daniel fight hard and love even harder. Jeff's denial, stardom and family life push Danny to the brink of destruction but it is only then that Jeff realises the only person who ever made him feel alive could be about to disappear. Will Jeff get a second chance with Danny?
Rarely do stories make me feel exhausted emotionally by the end of the page. LF Blake has managed to do something that rarely happens to me and I don’t know why I am surprised. After sampling a shorter piece by the author, I had to get this novel. Set in the backdrop of the Eighties, best friends and band mates Jeff and Daniel live a wannabe-rock-star life. Trying to succeed with their band Far Cry, both men navigate their lives through denial, depression, pain, sex, girlfriends and drugs. Daniel provides lead vocals and is also the biggest emotional wreck in the story, which tore my heart to little shreds. The author voiced him so exceedingly well, I felt like he was in the same room as me. His dramatics and his destructive life just made me pity him. Hopelessly in love with his best friend Jeff, who is married and wants the two-point four children and a dog, Danny flounders from one syringe to the next. In the closet, because he has to be – no one knows the real “Danny”, not even Jeff or their band mates. Daniel is known as the drama queen and the womaniser. Throughout this whole story, I just wanted to hug Daniel. Someone so hopeless is rarely written, his life was painful to read, and yet I never once thought “get away and try it on your own” he was so tied to Jeff, he literally only existed for the man. The author wrote such a broken character that it exhausted me to read his pain.
Jeff was the silent and in denial character, who was also hard to read. Trying to be the good son, he married the pretty girl and wanted to start a family. Never once in the story did the author make Jeff dislike his wife; I actually believed he loved and cared for the woman. Was Jeff bisexual? No. I don’t believe Jeff was; however the author uses a lot of confusion techniques that makes you ask the question whether Jeff was bisexual or gay and ultimately not care because it was all about feelings and the author portrayed them very well. Jeff just loved two people and out of fear, and his obvious love for his wife, he resented anything to do with Daniel for a point in time. However when Daniel and Jeff come together, it is done under the guise of desperation and cheating. Both men are in relationships and their situation should make me dislike them; cheating men being my big no-no but the author did a fantastic job with that storyline that I was swept away in their rocky and dangerous relationship.
The characters are what made this story so great. Two broken main characters, the wives and girlfriends, Jeff's family and the band all adding flavour. The author brought such colourful characters that they demanded to be read in one go.
One criticism that could be said about The Far Away Years is that the author chose to time her story in the eighties, however other than sub-heading that told the year every few chapters, the story held no flavour of the setting. The world-building was pretty poor, and ended up reading like a present contemporary. If emphasis is made on the year, then the author should have stuck to it. Whilst I personally find the characterisation in this story superb, I think the author forgot about the world-building and lost a sense of structure to the story.
Overall, a great story centred on musicians, this author has a distinct style of story telling and I am very excited to see what else LF Blake will offer.