A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A chance at real love between two mature men is derailed by an unrealistic, overly sweet story line that leaves me wanting just a bit more grit and a touch of reality.
Blurb: Weber Yates’s dreams of stardom are about to be reduced to a ranch hand’s job in Texas, and his one relationship is with a guy so far out of his league he might as well be on the moon. Or at least in San Francisco, where Weber stops to see him one last time before settling down to the humble, lonely life he figures a frog like him has coming.
Cyrus Benning is a successful neurosurgeon, so details are never lost on him. He spotted the prince in a broken-down bull rider’s clothing from day one. But watching Weber walk out on him keeps getting harder, and he’s not sure how much more his heart can take. Now Cyrus has one last chance to prove to Weber that it’s not Weber’s job that makes him Cyrus’s perfect man, its Weber himself. With the help of his sister’s newly broken family, he’s ready to show Weber that the home the man’s been searching for has always been right there, with him. Cyrus might have laid down an ultimatum once, but now it’s turned into a vow—he’s never going to let Weber out of his life again.
Review: So I am a second chance type of reviewer, almost always. I have remarked before that I definitely believe that authors can have bad days, which result in less than stellar work. It happens to all of us. A case in point? Compare Titus Andronicus to Hamlet–enough said!
In keeping with my policy, I forayed once again into the story land realm of Mary Calmes, this time reading her book, Frog.
Now everyone take a deep breath and hear me out, because if you are a Calmes fan, you are already upset that I gave this 2.5 stars and unfortunately this review is not going to make you feel much better.
The story takes us into the lives of two men who have had an on again, off again love affair for many years. Weber, a down and out cowboy, whose body is worn out from too many years spent on the bull-riding circuit has arrived in town penniless, broken and resolved to leave competitive life behind. Once again he reaches out to his former lover, Cyrus Benning, a successful neurosurgeon who is hopelessly in love with his cowboy!
What follows this reunion is a sweet, sometimes achingly sweet, story of two men coming to terms with their love and need for each other. Along the way both discover hidden truths about themselves, Web realizes that he is worth so much more than his profession and that success in a given career does not make the man, but rather what is in his heart, how he is perceived by those who love him, make him a man to be respected. Cy finds that while he is often left feeling needy and less than adequate for his family, he is the only man that can tame his cowboy and the only man his cowboy will ever love. Cy discovers that it is okay to give over the reigns of control to someone he can trust and who trusts him in return.
And if the story had stopped there, if Mary Calmes had not begun, once again, her penchant for endless repetition of minor themes and overly descriptive passages, if the remarkable endearing children of Cy’s sister had simply been normal, less trusting, less broken…well then dear reader this rating would have gone a very different way. Alas, it was not to be so. Let’s look at what were, to me, some major flaws in the writing of this admittedly lovely story.
The endless repetition and overly descriptive passages:
“Crisp, polished, pressed, the tailored dress suit and shirt that cost more than all my earthy possessions…”
“…the cashmere and wool topcoat accentuate the breadth of his shoulder, and the heavy wool scarf was wrapped once around his neck…”
The sweater and jeans underneath, the polished boots, he was a vision…”
“…the gray straw cowboy hat down low over my eyes, and flipped the collar up on the shearing-lined denim jacket…”
And on and on and on. It got to the point where I began to gnash my teeth in frustration as each time we got rolling along in the story another observance of how someone was dressed ripped me from the moment. This is Mary Calmes’ achilles heel. She gets caught up in describing the most mundane things and, in my opinion, her story suffers as a result.
My god, they were adorable. Wounded, yet so quick to trust this perfect stranger, this cowboy. And what about that? Was I really to believe that Cy’s sister Carolyn, took one look at this man and entrusted her three sons into his care immediately–right after their father had run off with the previous nanny? Plus the middle boy, Micah, had been traumatized after witnessing the death of his grandmother and was now a self-imposed mute. Yet after months of therapy, Web comes along and, within a few weeks, the child is miraculously healed and speaking again…oh dear…I just could not wrap my mind around that plot point. To see childhood trauma treated so cavalierly–so conveniently…well that was disappointing.
This was a sweet romance. At times it was so achingly sweet that I had to step back and pinch myself to remain calm over the fact that within record time, every member of Cy’s family fell in love with Weber. It was all so very perfect..so very easy. Even the inner turmoil that Web deals with in coming to terms with the fact that he will never be as successful as his partner…that he will in some way be a “kept man” for his entire life, the ease with which he gives over that constant battle within himself at the end of this novel simply did not ring true.
I think that Mary Calmes is the queen of her overly romanticized, perfect little love stories. She fills a niche and has ardent fans and deserves to have them. She writes the same story many times over and never fails to deliver a neatly packaged happy ever after.
So what’s really wrong with that? Well, in this genre of contemporary m/m fiction, there are so many who manage to do all that this author does but without the pandering, the glib story lines and the too perfect cast of characters. And given the level of Ms. Calmes’ writing, I think she could as well. So I suppose, dear reader, it simply came down to a matter of taste…and this story left a bit of a sour one in my mouth.