Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: Midlife Crisis
AUTHOR: Audra North
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 221 Pages
RELEASE DATE: August 28, 2017
Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.
Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.
No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to openly embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith–and a lot of love–his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.
Cam McGhee is going to break your heart. I’m pretty sure I felt mine crack several times while reading his story.
The story begins with fifty four year old Cam venturing into a gay bar for the first time in his life. He’s feeling a complete mess of emotions – fear, excitement, hope – but it doesn’t end well, and he’s not sure if he even wants to try again. Why even attempt to explore this part of himself when he’s only in Austin temporarily? In six months he’ll be returning to Bitter, a small, all black, church strong town where the only out gay man was beaten, driven out and disowned. But then he meets Dave, and even though he knows it can’t last, he begins to fall for the confident, understanding man.
I’d say about a quarter of this story is set in the past, important scenes from Cam’s life which are scattered throughout the story, rather than told in one big chunk. The “flashbacks” begin with a teenaged Cam dealing with the fact that his feelings towards another boy won’t ever be accepted in the world he lives in. In fact, they’ll be met with hatred and violence. Through these brief scenes, we witness a deeply closeted Cam get married, have children and consequently lose his wife after thirty five years of marriage. In every single one of these moments, Cam is struggling, and the scene when he marries LaVerne was absolutely heartbreaking. The author did a brilliant job of making me feel his loneliness and despair that what he had to do just wasn’t right. Usually I hate flashbacks, but the author used these ones so well that it enhanced the story rather than drew my attention from the romance between the main characters. It’s one thing to tell the reader about a character’s history, but this story really made me feel it.
While I enjoyed the romance between Cam and Dave, for me the story was always about Cam’s life. The romance just added a happy element to that. I thought the sex scenes were well written and suited to the story. Finally having sex with a man was a huge deal to Cam and I needed it to be about how he was feeling rather than any kinky antics. And that was what the author gave us. Not that the scenes weren’t sexy, but they were appropriate to the story. If Dave had pulled out a ball gag and started spanking Cam I would have wondered what the hell was happening.
I think my only quibble with this story is that I would have liked to know what happened next. People back in Bitter would surely find out. How would all these people that Cam was scared to alienate react to the news? Especially LaVerne’s family?
I absolutely enjoyed this story and will be sure to look out for more books from this author in the future.