Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Beneath the Stars
AUTHOR: Lynn Charles
PUBLISHER: Interlude Press
LENGTH: 300 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 16, 2017
At a turning point for his growing fashion line for transmen and butch women, Sid Marneaux receives a life-altering phone call. His father, who raised his family alone after his wife passed, is in failing health. When he goes home, he fears he could lose the business he has spent most of his adult life building.
What he could not have anticipated was meeting Eddie Garner, the city’s new fire chief. After a heroic rescue, their romance sparks hot, launching into a swift affair. But Eddie is harboring his own burdens: the painful death of his best friend and the responsibility of raising her young son—their son—Adrian.
Through the wisdom of a child and the connection of mothers-now-gone, Sid, Eddie, and Adrian venture and fumble to define family, career, and, most importantly, love.
Yeah, so I totally have a confession to make. I mostly picked up this book because I thought one of the characters was either trans or non-binary. And it turns out that both MCs are cis males, which while perfectly fine wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for when I first decided to review this book. I in no way think it was was the author’s fault for my misconception, I probably just read a bit too much into the book blurb that clearly wasn’t there, but it still ended up having an impact on how I ultimately enjoyed this story. When I go into a book expecting one thing, and getting something totally different, it tends to screw with how I interact with both the story and the characters. So I kinda wanted to just say up front that this is where some of my issues connecting with the characters came from. I don’t think it is the author or the book’s fault (mostly), it is just how it ended up being.
Even though they were not who I was expecting, I did still really like both Sid and Eddie. Both were very well written, and were a pleasure to read about. Sid, who at the beginning of this story is just on the cusp of beginning his new business designing clothing for trans, non-binary, and people with non-conforming gender identities, quickly has the rug pulled out when he gets a call from his sister demanding he come back home and help deal with their sick father. While not a huge fan of how demanding his sister ended up sounding, I liked how the pull between his past and his future played out over the course of the book. Sid spends the majority of the book trying to be two places at once, and never really happy in any of them. I think the book did a good job of showing how split he is about everything without going so far as to make him come off as annoying.
The interactions between Sid and Eddie (and Eddie’s son) were also good. Eddie lost his best friend to cancer, and gained a son he never really expected to raise–despite their biological link. Having to deal with a new job, new lover, new life, and a small kid is probably a bit much for most people. But I think it was handled well here. I will be the first to say that I have a not-so-secret dislike of children, but for the most part I liked the interactions between the three.
However I will say that Sid’s reaction to finding out Eddie had a kid was a bit over the top. I get not wanting to date someone who has a kid, but running out of the city because some guy you have known for less than a month hasn’t been completely honest with you was a bit ridiculous. I can get being angry and upset–as well as not knowing if you even want to be with a guy who was a parent–but running off to Chicago made me want to smack the guy. I do forgive him a little, though, since he is clearly stressed the fuck out because of everything that is being asked of him.
Mostly I found this a very good story. There was just a little problem with the fact it seemed a bit meandering at times. There didn’t seem to be any thing pushing the story forward and as a result I had a hard time connecting with it. I kept picking it up and putting it back down again after a chapter or two. Nothing was really bad about it, but there was also not a hook for me. I don’t connect very well to stories where a lot of the emphasis is on the kids–mostly because I just don’t care for them in real or fictional life–and a lot of the stuff between Sid and his father (who has dementia or Alzheimer’s–I can’t quite remember), while very well written, was kinda hit and miss with me empathetically. I know that it may make me seem a bit callus to some people, but I don’t really care for the whole idea that putting your parents in a care home somehow makes you a horrible person. I just don’t see how running yourself ragged trying, and failing, to give them the care they need is somehow the best way to show you care about someone. Granted, as someone who never plans on having kids, it is kinda a mute point for me anyways, so maybe I just don’t get it.
Maybe this book just wasn’t the best fit for me. I don’t know. I do think it was a good story though, so if I’m being completely objective I don’t have much problem recommending it to others. If you like stories that is strong in family-orientated plot, I think you’ll really like this one. And, well, hot firemen are never a bad thing.