I first read Everything Under the Sun nearly two years ago (when I was still really, really new to the M/M romance genre) and remember promising myself I’d read it again someday because I liked it that well. Reading Rachel West’s The Cellmate, recently, reminded me of just how very well I’d liked it. So I finally got around to reading it again, and I liked it just as much the second time around, maybe more so, because I now have a frame of reference for the story model.
If you’re at all familiar with the TV show Queer as Folk (I’ve only recently discovered a deep and overwhelming obsession for it), you’ll recognize the author’s nod to that show’s most heartbreakingly frustrating couple, Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor. In fact, there’s an utterly deliberate reference to Brian in the book that went straight over my head the first time I read it because I had no idea who he was and didn’t bother to Google him—which is so unlike me.
I have an insane desire to recap this entire story, start to finish, but I can’t really do it without major spoilage. It’s not that long or deeply involved, so to summarize it would pretty much give it all away. Suffice it to say this is a heavily erotic May/September romance between two men who both want the same thing, but only one is brave enough to go for it. The other is scared as hell because he’s been burned before, he doesn’t do the boyfriend thing, and he doesn’t know how to process his feelings for the boy-next-door. The one-and-done, no names, repeat performances non-negotiable—they don’t happen—thing was working for Alex. That is, until he befriended Chris. Then all bets were off.
Aside from the albatross that is relationship-phobia which hangs around Alex’s neck, there’s also a complication named Seth, who is Chris’s not quite friend, not quite boyfriend, not at all comfortably bisexual obsession. Seth wants Chris, but he doesn’t WANT to want Chris, so he alternately uses Chris for purely orgasmic purposes, then uses his fear to propel him out the door each and every time. And here’s the kicker about Seth: he doesn’t want Chris until he finds out someone else wants Chris. Then Seth’s all about the sniffing around like a dog in heat, trying to win Chris back.
There’s a lot of sex and a few complications in this book, but what I found utterly winning were Alex and Chris themselves. There was a chemistry there that made them entirely cheer-for-able. (Yes, I know, not a word. Sometimes you just have to make things up as you go along.) Their story wasn’t earth shatteringly unique, but that’s what made it so easy to connect to. There were no grandiose plot twists; there were just two guys trying to find a common ground upon which they might build something kind of beautiful.
I’ve done some investigating, which basically means I typed “Rachel West Author” into my Google search engine, and I don’t think she’s writing any longer, unless she’s writing under a different name. If she’s retired, I’d count that as a bit of a shame, really.
Buy Everything Under the Sun HERE.