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In Jim Provenzano’s sequel to the 2012 Lambda Literary Award-winning Gay Romance Every Time I Think of You, the love between two young men is put to a test.
Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester have moved to Philadelphia, where college life brings them closer together, perhaps a bit too close. Everett, pressured by his mother, transfers to the University of Pennsylvania, while Reid stays at Temple University. Their once long-distance love becomes a cross-town romance.
A twist of floral fate later finds them an apartment more like a home. Between student protests, impulsive road trips and despite a few affairs, their bond grows.
But as the early 1980s continue, a spreading crisis approaches, coming into their lives with a strange intimacy, via that one mysterious Polaroid of Everett, the one that Reid never dared to ask about.
Series are a tough business (for me). On any given sequel I might: jump from the first book to the second and love it, jump from the first book to the second and hate it, or wait and love/hate it.
Knowing my odds, I usually try to wait a bit and then hope for the best, but with Message of Love, the sequel to Every Time I Think of You, I decided two weeks was plenty, and, well, 4.5 stars later, here we are.
Message of Love begins a few months after the closing events in Every Time I Think of You. Reid and Everett are cohabitating. It’s the early 1980s, and things are way harder (than now) for people with disabilities. It also is a completely different world for gay couples: a new disease is spreading among the community, and people are scared. Still, sex is easy, free love is rampant, and relationships are rare.
The way Reid tells their story, living with these realities is tough. Even before an accident left him paralyzed, Everett could be cruel. Reid is patient, forgiving and overly accommodating. Sweet, sweet Reid tries so hard to be his own person and it’s almost painful to observe his devotion to Everett.
Overall, Reid and Everett’s next stage is slower, but in the best possible ways. The guys work through a school transfer, moves, different interests and new friends. They get closer than I ever thought they could. They learn about boundaries, respect and trust. It’s perfect to watch them change and grow and become independent men. I loved the way they interacted and wove themselves so completely into each other’s lives.
The AIDS epidemic—then called “gay cancer”—was a deadly main character in the book, and it made me anxious (rightly). The way it was written was pure genius on Provenzano’s part. I’ll say it again: his writing is gorgeous and sweeping and strong. I can’t help but wonder if I’ll get more of Reid and Everett in another few years. I hope so; I don’t think I’m quite ready to let them go yet.
Title: Message of Love
Author: Jim Provenzano
Publisher: Myrmidude Press
Release Date: March 15, 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon