Title: But My Boyfriend Is
Author: K.A. Mitchell
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Interracial
Length: Novel/250 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Are you gay if you can’t keep it in your pants when a hot guy makes you burn? Denials don’t make you straight.
The most dangerous lies are the ones you tell yourself.
Dylan Williams is not gay. Sometimes he gets off with other guys, but so what? He plans to get married someday—really married, like with a wife and kids. And he’s determined that his future family’s life will be the normal one he and his brothers never had.
Mike Aurietta is gay, but his job keeps him in the closet. He doesn’t usually risk frequenting infamous cruising places like Webber Park. But when he’s cutting through one night, he finds himself defending a victim from gay bashers.
It’s all Dylan can do to process the shock that anyone would want to hurt his quiet twin brother. At first he needs Mike’s eyewitness report to satisfy the gut-wrenching desire for revenge. Then he finds himself needing Mike’s solid, comforting presence…and the heat that unexpectedly flares between them.
In the aftermath, Mike quickly learns not to expect too much from his conflicted lover. Though he never thought his good deed would come back to bite him in the ass. Or that hanging on to the possibility of love could force too many secrets out of the closet—and cost them both everything.
But My Boyfriend Is, book no. 4 of the Florida series by K.A. Mitchell, is the story of the life so far of Dylan Williams. I met Dylan, his eldest brother Aaron and Aaron’s boyfriend Joey in Collision Course which I reviewed in 2008 here. Dylan is now twenty-two trying to fumble his way through what most people call love, but first he has to admit he’s gay.
Dylan and his identical twin Darryl are often mistaken for each other, which is how Darryl ended up almost beaten to death in Webber Park as he was taking a short cut on his way home; the park was a well known cruising spot for gay men which Dylan frequented. That Darryl wasn’t killed was due to Mike Aurietta being in the park at the time. When Mike witnessed three men punching and kicking Darryl in the head he interceded, fought off his attackers and called 911. Mike and Dylan met in Emergency at the hospital and Dylan was his usual prickly self because he couldn’t fathom why a stranger who was white would put himself in harm’s way to help his brother. I guess he didn’t believe in the milk of human kindness.
Mike is gay and he recognized that Dylan was also gay but he was so far in the closet he couldn’t figure out where the door was. Despite Dylan’s antagonism, a violent and immediate attraction flared up between them which neither man could resist.
Dylan blamed himself for his brother’s life-threatening injuries because the perpetrators mistook Darryl for him. The only person who seemed to empathize was Mike but Dylan claimed he wanted nothing to do with him, except he couldn’t keep his hands off Mike as he continued to tell himself and everyone else who would listen to his refrain that he was not gay. Dylan’s truculence and self loathing were so exhausting I couldn’t understand why Mike continued to see him but I guess he couldn’t resist the attraction either.
Dylan’s life was a series of lows starting with his childhood in a dysfunctional family. His father went to prison for manslaughter and his mother took off when he and his twin were eight years old. They ended up in different foster homes until Aaron was able to get custody, but he and Dylan were always at odds as Aaron blamed him for anything bad that happened to Darryl, Mr. Perfect, who was about to graduate summa cum laude from university while Dylan was in a dead end job at The Cheesecake Factory. I can’t remember Aaron being such an asshole to his brother in Collision Course but he really ripped him a new one in But My Boyfriend Is.
Mike couldn’t get Dylan off his mind although he didn’t try very hard, and they had sex regularly despite Dylan being in denial about his sexual orientation. This is a typical episode between them:
Dylan tilted his hips to meet him, that watchful look back on his face, as if he were waiting for Mike to do something that crossed whatever lines Dylan had set up so he could tell himself he wasn’t gay. Like there was a whole lot of wiggle room on that point when what you were wiggling was your cock against another guy’s. But whatever kind of mess was going on in Dylan’s head, his body was completely into it.
When Dylan found out from Joey that Darryl was considering a research fellowship offer from a university on the other side of the country, mainly it seemed to get away from Dylan, he was devastated; first, because Darryl didn’t have the balls to tell him that he was moving, and second, he didn’t know how he would manage without his twin as they had never been separated other than one week in foster care.
Dylan’s constant refrain of denial that he wasn’t gay got on my last nerve. If you’re cruising a gay park regularly looking for a blow job, or giving one, or having anal sex with men I think it’s fairly obvious that you’re not entirely straight even if you have sex with women occasionally to prove to yourself and everyone else that you’re heterosexual. It doesn’t matter if you want the nuclear family with a wife, 2.5 children, and the white picket fence, that still doesn’t make you hetero, you’re at least bi.
To summarize: I thought that Darryl was weak and selfish and he treated Dylan like a pariah after the attack. He did everything he could to make Dylan feel terrible about the attack which was partly his own fault since he knew all about the park and took his chances. Joey was a standout as usual.. Tough love was Aaron’s signature, sometimes taken to extremes, until he almost lost Dylan. I liked Mike’s room mates Garrett and Tate and I hope they return in the next book. As for Mike, I thought that he was vulnerable and caring and his personality shone throughout. His tolerance of Dylan’s idiosyncrasies, his ability to give his boyfriend the benefit of the doubt regardless how Dylan’s denials made him feel, and the career sacrifices he was willing to make for Dylan, showed his integrity as well as how much he loved him. Dylan was one of the most complex and flawed characters I have come across in a while but he had a good heart and loved his brother, and when the chips were down he proved that he loved Mike too. He was the odd one out in his family and he felt misunderstood and sometimes unloved with no one to turn to except his sister Sheree and occasionally Darryl whose departure hurt him. His only comfort was Mike so in some ways I can understand his frustrations with life in general.
This was a tough book to rate because although I loved a lot of it, Dylan’s insistence until the bitter end that he wasn’t gay got tired. On page 249 of a 252 page book the refrain was the same, which I thought was ridiculous, particularly since he was moving in with Mike.
The dialogue and prose are vintage K.A. Mitchell and if you love angst you will probably love this book because this author does it well, stopping just short of overwhelming the reader.
Collision Course, the first story in this series where I met Joey, is still my favourite, but Diving in Deep is also excellent. Throughout the series Joey and Aaron make appearances which is K.A’s signature because of Joey’s appeal to fans, and this strategy worked again in But My Boyfriend Is, as his humour provided a light touch in a book that covered a number of serious topics.