Summary Review: An unexpectedly heartwarming, delightful, funny story which will grab you by the throat and never let go, as you fall for Mal and Wes.
I didn’t know. How could I? All through high school, I was beaten up and teased for being gay. But I wasn’t gay. Or didn’t think I was. Now Wes, the guy across the street who’s taken me under his wing and been the best friend I’ve ever had, won’t stop invading my dreams, hell, my every waking thought. Am I gay? Because I’m thinking I’d like to kiss him. Actually, I’m thinking there’s a lot more I’d like to do with his mouth and the rest of that tall, confident, muscular body. Ah, man… I’m so gay!
But what if he doesn’t feel the same way about me? And, Jesus, what about my parents? And those bastards from school are still around. And I’m supposed to go to college this fall… Shit, I need to sit down. I can’t breathe and I’m about to shake apart.
Then Wes puts his hand on the back of my neck, gives me one of those encouraging squeezes and his bright smile, and everything’s okay again. Yeah, I’m hooked. Oh, boy…
This debut novel by Missy Welsh was an absolute delight and you will want to hug the protagonists, Mal and Wes, when you finish it. Eighteen year old Malcolm Small spent his high school years being beaten up by homophobic bullies and had the scars to prove it. Unfortunately he also had the misfortune of having parents who didn’t care about him - the only thing they cared about was keeping up appearances, and if they suspected the reason he was always bruised and battered, they ignored it. When Wes’s family moved in next door, Mal’s parents’ main concern was that those ‘liberals’ would bring the tone of the neighbourhood down, and they demanded that Wes not mix with them. Shy, introverted, insecure Mal wanted to be friends with 24 year old Wes Kinney who seemed like a god because he was so confident and daring. He even told the guys who regularly had fun using Mal as a punching bag that he was gay. He was out and proud and didn’t care who knew it.
Mal lived in a vanilla pudding world – his parents were vanilla, the neighbourhood was vanilla, he was vanilla. He hated his life but he soon figured out that Wes was the sprinkle in his vanilla world as everything changed overnight when Wes became his friend. The first time they met he was still in denial about being gay, but Wes only smiled and let him continue to delude himself. Mal had no friends and had never dated, but it wasn’t too long after he met Wes that he figured out he had wasted his entire life trying to escape himself.
Wes at 24 made a comfortable living restoring cars but had moved back home with his parents temporarily because his neighbours hated his sexual orientation and lifestyle and harrassed his boyfriends. Meeting Mal was a dream come true for him as he fell head over heels for him almost immediately, but he knew that Mal wasn’t quite ready to make a commitment; first because of his age and second he still had not admitted that he was gay, a very important step to a relationship with another man. However, things moved quickly once Mal accepted himself as a gay man.
What I liked
>>The fact that Mal at eighteen had enough sense to figure out if what he felt for Wes was lust or love
>>The protagonists – Mal and Wes were made for each other
>>The prose and dialogue which would have done a more experienced author proud
What I didn’t like
>> Neither Wes nor Mal had any flaws to speak of. Maybe one should have had a blemish or two.
>>The “throw away” flirting” scene with a girl almost at the end of the book. I guess Mal wanted to test whether he was gay or bi and perhaps the scene was designed to create conflict between him and Wes, but to me it didn’t achieve its objective and fell flat
>>When Mal was beaten up by Rick for the umpteenth time and required medical attention, suddenly it became an OK homo world where everyone, from the police officers, to the EMTs, to the middle-aged nurse in the hospital were all “gay friendly.” Even in California that seemed strange
What I loved and didn’t expect was the humorous banter between Wes and Mal, especially during sex, and at times I laughed out loud because the dialogue was sparkling. Here are a few examples:
“Tell me what to do?”
His grin went a little wicked. “Sure. Lie here. Breathe. Let me get you naked and spend a few hours doing really naughty things to you.”
I laughed, but then… “Wait. Hours?”
His chuckle was wicked too. Then he leaned in and nipped at my bottom lip. And there went my thoughts about his tongue and those lips and my dick. “Yeah, okay.”
I lay back, lifting my hips, wiggling free before untangling my legs and tossing my briefs at him. He caught them; then his eyes snapped down to where my dick stood up just for him.
“Dude, you need to change your name. You are not small.”
I blushed and lay back, all worries vanishing. Gym class hadn’t been a safe time for me, but I’d thought I might be impressive.
Wes was definitely not quiet during sex.
He tried to say different things a few times, starting and stopping. Mostly things that sounded like amazement, contained my name, and praised God. Over and over. I loved it and would’ve smiled a lot if my mouth hadn’t been so full of him.
His smile was small and quiet as he stroked my cheek with his thumb.
“It’s a shame cock sucking isn’t a degree, because you—”
I howled with laughter and covered his mouth so he couldn’t say any more.
Missy Welsh sure can write and her characters came alive on the page. Once the guys got in a groove they had sex just about everywhere and I couldn’t figure out how they were so noisy during sex both at Mal’s and Wes’s parents’ homes and were never caught. Aaah, the magic of books! I did have a few minor issues: The conflicts were mostly external and there were no hiccups in the romance; there were so many mentions of Mal’s Kindle in the story they reminded me of product placements in television shows; not many guys know the colour fuchsia unless they were decorators, but Mal did.
This was a true romance and the tenderness between Mal and Wes was so palpable you could feel it. The story is told from Mal’s first person POV and he was such a delight. Wes was the kind of boyfriend every guy should have his first time, as he cherished Mal. As for the other characters - Mal’s parents were snobbish, self righteous and opinionated as was to be expected, but I never found out if they were homophobic, I guess you could say they weren’t very nice. Wes’s family was, of course perfect, maybe too perfect but not over the top, and the guys in the garage where Mal helped Wes refinish ‘Ted,’ his almost vintage car, were priceless.
My Summer of Wes was a fun story with two wonderful protagonists, great pacing, and dialogue and prose that many authors can only wish for. This book would have been 4.25 for me but I gave it an extra .25 on the rating scale because it was so funny. Definitely recommended.