Split

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Title:Split
Author: Mel Bossa
Cover Artist: n/a
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Amazon Buy Link: Split
Genre: contemporary romance
Length: 240 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: A beautifully written romance where strong writing made me believe in a trope I usually do not find very believable.

Blurb:

Quiet and imaginative, Derek O’Reilly spends a lot of time watching a movie in his head. His fiancé Nathan, aka “Mr. Alpha,” wonders why Derek hasn’t taken any interest in their wedding planning. Aunt Fran—his spiritual guru—would like to know when her guilt-tripping nephew became some kind of kept boy. One evening, she drops Derek’s childhood journal on his lap, forcing him to remember the name he’s been trying to forget since he was eleven years old. Nicolai Lund.
Nick was Derek’s neighbor—and first love.
Weeks before Derek’s engagement party, a chance meeting with Nick catapults Derek into the past. Nick could flood Derek’s stale existence like a blond tidal wave, but Nick isn’t that sixteen-year-old rebel anymore. He’s a man hardened by invisible scars.
As Derek reads through his diary, Nick and Derek’s powerful relationship sways between past and present, sweeping over their emotional landscape, revealing what they were, still are, and might yet be to each other.

Review:

I was eyeing this book ever since I saw it being shortlisted as a Lambda finalist in the gay romance  category. I do not believe of course that nomination for the award will make me more likely to enjoy the book, but I do believe that submission for the award means that the writing at least passes the initial muster of being strong enough so I always check out Lambda finalists, and if the plot sounds interesting will end purchasing at least few of those books. I ended up purchasing Split recently and decided to  review it here.

The story worked for me almost perfectly, but I think it is first and foremost because of the strength of the writing – in the hands of lesser writer several things in this book could have made me cringe, so I can imagine  that if you do not like the writing, you may not be able to like it either. First and foremost the book jumps between past and present  and does it very often. Moreover I did not do calculations, but I  would say that we spend more time in the past, when the main characters are eleven/twelve and fifteen/sixteen than in the present. It is possible that it is split 50/50, but as I said I did not do the math :). For me, while too many flashbacks in a book can became an annoyance and really fast. in this one it worked perfectly.

Second, we are spending the time in the past when the main character is eleven/twelve and his love interest is fifteen/sixteen, and main character is having really really intense thoughts about  his love interest. I am not bothered by reading about an eleven twelve year olds intense thoughts about their crush (or if they think so – love), as- I think it is believable and realistic especially in this day and age, but if it bothers you, you should definitely stay away from this book. Nothing *happens* between them in the past and Derek does not fantasize about a full blown out sex scene, but even at that age he is very intense as a character. And yes, it does mean angst – for me it was very well written and well done, but I have a pretty high angst tolerance (not unlimited though :)).

And here we come to the point which could have really annoyed me in the hands of a lesser writer – you could see it from the blurb, yes, the boy whom Derek fancies to love at eleven turns out to be his one true love. Let me stress, he meets his one true love at *eleven*, not even when he is sixteen/seventeen. For me the eye rolling potential was all there. But the writer made me  ignore that and just go with the flow. - It worked for me, it worked beautifully and I do not even know why it worked, except I want to say Bravo to the writer. I mean, thank goodness Derek did have relationships before he and Nick meet again, but it was pretty clear to me that he was not happy in those relationships. The only thing I am sure of is that I loved this story. Maybe I should think about it as modern fairy tale? But the characters in fairy tales are usually just sketched and in this one I thought that the characters were three dimensional and believable – at least the main ones were three dimensional to me.

I also always want to give a special thanks to the writer who writes great female characters in gay romance. Here I loved Aunt Francis, I thought she was wonderful and several other albeit very secondary female characters were great as well.

I think I have one niggle about the portrayal of Nick’s mother, she was no inexplicably evil or evil at all, but I did not think  that at the end of the story I understood the reasons why she and Nick had problems in their relationship.

Highly recommended. Moreover, I loved the writing so much that I am likely to reread it in the future.

18 thoughts on “Split

  1. rdafan7

    I’ll be sure to check this one out also, thanks for the review! I agree that the flashbacks could be annoying in the wrong hands, sounds like everything comes together here though.

    1. Sirius

      Hey rdafan, yes in this book I thought it was done beatifully and I am not even sure whether I would consider it flashbacks. I mean, technically it is flashbacks of course, but so much of the story takes place in the past that for me it was more like story happening in both times simultaneously if that makes sense?

      Anyway, I just wanted to make sure that readers who dislike this way of telling the story no matter how well written it is are aware of it.

      I hope you will enjoy it if you decide to pick it up.

  2. Denni

    One of the great joys of being a reader. To find an author so gifted that they can make you enjoy a genre you usually avoid.

    I have a couple of those on my keeper shelf, they are special!

    1. jeayci

      Oh yeah, that is so true! :cool:

      Great review, Sirius! This one sounds worth checking out, though I’m cringing a bit at even the thought of adding anything to my current TBR mountain. :eek:

      1. Sirius

        Yes, the further expansion of my TBR is something I try to avoid, but somehow it is still growing :)

        I definitely think this one is a worth while read though.

    2. Sirius

      I know Denni – it takes a great deal of talent to take the reader along for the ride reader would not normally go to. I have some of those books too :)

  3. Bryant

    Split was one of my favorite two Lambda finalists in romance this year. This review said it best–the writer’s skill made it a joy to read, and also made some tricky aspects work.

    I think every story requires some willing suspension of disbelief, and it’s the author’s talent that determines if the reader goes along or becomes frustrated.

    The setting was plus too. I like to be transported to places I haven’t visited. Yet. :grin:

    1. Sirius

      Which was your other favorite Bryant? Lets compare notes :)

      And thank you for complimenting the review, I really appreciate it.

      1. Bryant

        Hi Sirius,
        You’re welcome! I think your review perfectly summed up my reaction to Split, but I just couldn’t have written as eloquently as you. :grin:

        My two favorite Lambda finalists were neck-and-neck, one always topping the other (no pun intended) depending on my mood. It was Tinseltown, which was just so wildly different from anything I’ve read before. It was clever and touching. I really fell for Micah.

        Split and Tinseltown did two things I really look for in a novel: to bond with a character on all emotional levels, and to really feel I’ve been transported to another place. I so need to visit Quebec and Seattle now.

        1. Sirius Post author

          OOOO Tinseltown is the only one I have not read yet. Must rectify and soon, thanks Bryant. I definitely want some kind of emotional connection with the characters too when I read romantic literature.

  4. larissa

    It looks really good and promising, but still the blurb doesn’t have me go WANT.
    Very nice review though!

    1. Sirius Post author

      Hey Larissa, I think that if the blurb is not calling to you, you definitely should trust you instincts.

  5. Pea

    I have had this book (the whole book not just the excerpt!) sitting on my Kindle for some time now and haven’t read it yet. I think your review will be the impetus I need to actually start reading it – thanks!

    1. Sirius

      Ooooo if you already have the book anyway, I won’t get worried that you will spend your money under my influence on something you may dislike and just demand you read it and soon ;). Please let me know your thoughts.

  6. Gaycrow

    I made a note of this story after reading your review, Sirius, and was pleased to find it at my local library. I’ve just finished reading it, and I loved it! It was so hard to put down, but at the same time I didn’t want it to end.

    I have to admit to not loving flashback stories – I get too impatient with the past, and want to know what’s happening NOW! please. :grumble: But with “Split” the flashbacks were okay. (Borderline in some places, but mainly okay. :grin: )

    I enjoyed Mel Bossa’s first novel so much, I’m looking forward to future stories from her.

    1. Sirius

      Oh Gay I am so pleased you liked it. I take it you bought it that guys fell in love in such early age? I was fighting it, but writer made me buy it :) And yes, flashbacks were okay for me too heh. I have Suite nineteen on my kindle but have not read it yet.

      1. Gaycrow

        Yes, the writer convinced me that an 11 year old could have a crush on an older boy that could last and eventually turn into love. It hasn’t happened in my experience, but I didn’t think twice about it when reading “Split”. :smile:

        I found that Mel’s published several other books now, but the Goodreads’ reviews vary in their enjoyment. I might wait before buying any, in the hope that some new positive reviews turn up.

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