Title: But My Boyfriend Is
Author: K.A. Mitchell
(c) 2012, Samhain Publishing
Available for purchase August 21, 2012 at the usual electronic outlets.
Part of Mitchell’s Jacksonville-set series…even though it’s set in Austin, Texas. A reader could pick up this book and understand all the action without reading the earlier books of the series.
Dylan Williams is not gay. Sometimes he gets off with other guys, but so what? He plans to get married someday—really married, like with a wife and kids. And he’s determined that his future family’s life will be the normal one he and his brothers never had.
Mike Aurietta is gay, but his job keeps him in the closet. He doesn’t usually risk frequenting infamous cruising places like Webber Park. But when he’s cutting through one night, he finds himself defending a victim from gay bashers.
It’s all Dylan can do to process the shock that anyone would want to hurt his quiet twin brother. At first he needs Mike’s eyewitness report to satisfy the gut-wrenching desire for revenge. Then he finds himself needing Mike’s solid, comforting presence…and the heat that unexpectedly flares between them.
In the aftermath, Mike quickly learns not to expect too much from his conflicted lover. Though he never thought his good deed would come back to bite him in the ass. Or that hanging on to the possibility of love could force too many secrets out of the closet—and cost them both everything.
This book in PDF is 270 pages, including all the usual book contents – cover page, copyright page, author info, etc. And there is a lot of action and heavy stuff packaged into the pages: inter-racial dating…when you’re bisexual and not even out to yourself, becoming an adult abruptly, and separation anxiety, all mixed up with a healthy dollop of guilt.
The book opens with Dylan rushing into the ER, having learned that his identical twin, Darryl, was jumped as he walked through Webber Park, an area known for its cruising. Except Darryl isn’t gay, Dylan is certain. Dylan, on the other hand, is not unfamiliar with the park, which has provided him with string-free orgasms that don’t impinge on his fantasy future. So what was Darryl doing in the park? And who is this Mike dude who rescued him? This sets up the external conflict for the book, catching the gay-bashers who bashed a straight guy by mistake, and the internal conflict in which Dylan is attracted to Mike but utterly resistant to the idea that he’s gay or bisexual, because that would mess up the perfect life he has planned. Both characters have their lives set up the way they like them, with certain people and activities in separate boxes, and Daryl’s assault ultimately makes them dismantle the boxes or at least blur the lines separating the different areas of their lives. What’s different from a lot of other m/m romances in the internal conflict is that Mike, for all that he calls Dylan on his I’m not gay bullshit, isn’t an advocate for him to come out, just for him to accept himself as he is.
Dylan is twenty-two, a line chef at The Cheesecake Factory, living with his twin while he finishes up an engineering degree at UT. Mike is an assistant athletic trainer for the Longhorns. UT alumni and football fans are fanatical in their loyalty, so his devotion to his job and living on the DL to keep it seem pretty consistent to me: Austin is a pretty laid-back place and is relatively liberal, but it’s still Texas and collegiate and professional sports remain one of the biggest bastions of homophobia.
In addition to the Dylan/Mike push-me-pull-you, there’s Dylan’s relationship with his twin. This part of the story is very interesting to me (disclosure: I am a twin). Because Darryl is absent for most of the book, readers don’t get to see the two interact much. He isn’t a POV character so their relationship is viewed only through Dylan’s perspective and the snippets of information provided by other characters. Darryl is a huge part of who Dylan is, and Dylan is clinging to that even as they are reaching a point when their contemporaries are going their separate ways, starting new careers, etc.
Given their ages and the content of the book, the New Adult label might be appropriate. (Also, the fact that I wanted to give Dylan a sharp smack to the head, much the same way I want to deal with some of the 20-22 y.o. interns I work with. Technically adults under the law but really not so much.)
Recommendation: very much enjoyed this book, would recommend it especially to readers looking for younger heroes.
I’m a fan of K.A. Mitchell’s work: her voice and humor suit my taste. There are a couple of books in her backlist that I have not *loved*, but as a rule her books are auto-buys and comfort re-reads for me. Top three favorites: No Souvenirs, Bad Boyfriend, Collision Course. But My Boyfriend Is would come next on the list: good stuff, not my favorite of Mitchell’s work but close to it.