Friday, June 11, 2010

Idaho Pride


Title: Idaho Pride
Author: Sarah Black
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher URL: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/
ISBN: 978-1-61581-442-8
Genre: [M/M] Contemporary
Rating: 4 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Mystical Nymph

Lee Hunter and Jeremy Sheridan recently discovered that not only do they live in the same apartment building, but across the hall, yet have spoken only in passing. That all changes when an attempt to defuse an explosive situation between their friends results in them being arrested and ordered to do community service hours together, cataloging tombstones at the local cemetery.

Jeremy is involved in helping several local gay young men and he convinces sports writer Lee to mentor one of them—Luis, a troubled young intern for his magazine. It’s during a day of service with Luis tagging along that the three make a tragic discovery, which triggers research for an article for Lee’s gay magazine, Idaho Pride.

As the two adults grow closer, Luis becomes more important than ever—especially after they discover their young friend’s past and that he’s been living on the street. When Jeremy’s ex-partner and Lee’s ex-lover threaten to destroy the family the three are building, it becomes Jeremy’s responsibility to defend those he’s come to love.

I want to say upfront that the blurb for Idaho Pride doesn’t do the story justice—it’s so much more. It deals with several heavy issues in a creative, yet tasteful manner and without making the story depressing, slow paced or maudlin. It covers gay teenage suicide and homelessness, homophobia, the emotional and physical pain of a parental beating when confessing they’re gay, fear and hopelessness. It’s also an interesting and refreshing romance between two men who have on first look, little in common.

Lee is a great character, and I love his ‘I don’t like labels’ attitude, while still readily admitting that he likes sleeping with men. While on the surface he appears comfortable in his own skin, underneath it seems he isn’t completely happy—he doesn’t have relationships, no friendships other than with sportspeople and considers himself a ‘real’ guy. He’s big, muscular, physically fit and often uses terms like powder-puff, fruit and flake; watching him change his thinking and actions as he gets more involved with the lives of Jeremy and Luis…that’s a great moment to see.

Jeremy is a compelling and interesting man. On the surface, he might appear rather soft and needy but to my way of thinking, at his core he’s pure steel, while still being kind, caring and loving.

Young and troubled Luis might have been a secondary character but each time he entered a scene, I was left with a feeling of wanting to know more about him—his past, his present and his future. I for one would like another story—maybe a few years down the road, with him as one of the primary characters.

If there was one thing I’d change, it would be to eliminate the little subplot that involved Jeremy’s ex-partner. This portion of the story feels more stuck in than important and doing away with it would have allowed further development of another more important character—for instance, Capt. McClain.

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