Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: A Honeyed Light
AUTHOR: Freddie Milano
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press
LENGTH: 128 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 14, 2016
Kunal, relative newcomer to the strange town of Harmony, has his hands full preparing for Diwali. That should be enough to keep anyone’s mind pre-occupied, but Kunal can’t really ignore that he’s nearly thirty, single, and still buried in the closet.
Out of town at a gay club one night, he bumps into Oscar, proprietor of Harmony’s only sex shop, and figures his secret is now officially out. What he doesn’t expect is a slow seduction, or to have to decide what it is he really wants in life.
Convinced that being gay is going to lead to nothing more than loneliness and pain, Kunal has spent his whole adult life trying to pretend that he is anything else–at least in public. Even if doing so is just as lonely. But at least he has his family, so that has to count for something. That is enough, he thinks. Until he runs into Oscar at a gay club and is unable to resist the guy’s charms…after a little persuasion. Torn between trying to be everything his family wants him to be, and everything Oscar is offering–things he never thought he could have like love and romance–Kunal doesn’t know what to do. But no matter what he chooses, he doesn’t think it is possible to go back to the life he was living before Oscar and his sweet poetry.
I really loved the multi-ethnic aspect of this book. It gave the whole story a very interesting feel, and I had a fun time learning about Diwali–the Indian Festival of Lights. The food, the holiday, the whole atmosphere of the book was just really cool. I love picking up books where the characters live lives so varied from my own.
And the whole romance between Kunal and Oscar was super sweet. A lot of hedging-bets in the beginning, but the simple dates that they go on, the way they react to one another, was nice. Kinda soothing. It didn’t feel like a Grand Passion, but it also had air of reality to it, that I loved. The only part of it that I really didn’t get was the whole poetry thing–and I will admit this is mostly just my general lack of interest in poetry. I don’t really get it, and so what was supposed to be this big romantic thing in the story just didn’t work for me. I got that it really worked for the characters, I just had a hard time forcing myself not to just skim over those parts.
I also was kinda unsure why the whole ghost aspect of this story was even there. It didn’t do anything for the plot, and in fact made it feel a lot less like a normal “holiday” story and more like one you’d pick up around Halloween. Except…it doesn’t really factor into the story in any major way. So I guess I just don’t know why the author bothered to put it in there. Is there a book after this one planned where it is essential? If so, I kinda wish the author had just saved it till then. Or maybe weaved it better into this story so it had some purpose. As it is, I read most of the story expecting it to go somewhere…but it never did. It left me feeling a bit annoyed.
Factoring that out, though, I do believe this was a very good story. I really liked most of the characters (Olli got on my nerves, a bit, to be honest) and I loved the parts about Diwali and the many cultural backgrounds that come into play.