No man is rich enough to buy back his past. – Oscar Wilde
Darcy Butler moved from Oregon to New Orleans, following the woman he’s been in an on-again-off-again relationship with for the past decade. It’s a new beginning for the online magazine he’s made a success of, even while the economy has made it difficult to build a business, and Darcy’s friendship with Bailey, one that happens to occasionally include sex, is a habit he’s formed over the years, so following her didn’t necessarily make sense as much as it was just a case of abiding the status quo. It’s a relationship that has become a convenient crutch for Darcy, but it’s about to become painfully obvious that he’s been wasting far too much time living a lie.
Landing an interview with award winning photographer and artist Caleb Mitchell was a stroke of good fortune and exactly what the magazine needs—Caleb’s vision and talent to help revamp the graphic art department and take the publication to the next level of polished professionalism. But, oh, Caleb is far from a polished professional. He’s a sublimely seductive, smooth talking French Cajun, whisper that in my ear one more time, bebe! sex god, and he takes an immediate interest in the very straight, very staid Darcy, something Darcy isn’t at all flattered by or interested in exploring.
Until, of course, he is.
Darcy has never been interested in men, and outside of Bailey, has never been particularly interested in women either. Mediocre sex is all he’s familiar with, so he has no idea there’s any other way for it to be. But Caleb is eager to seduce the man he can’t seem to keep his eyes or hands or lips off of, and eventually, he smooth talks his way behind Darcy’s walls of resistance, obliterating Darcy’s belief in his heterosexuality and blurring the lines between what’s lust and what could grow into so much more in the space of just a few days, and proving beyond all reasonable argument that sex and mediocrity don’t belong in the same frame of reference.
The sex these two guys partake in is about as hot and steamy as the city of New Orleans herself, though Darcy grows much fonder of one than the other, which is a conflict that bubbles just beneath the surface of whatever it is that’s going on between these two men. Their story is complicated by lots of drama and doubt and ghosts of the past that hang on like a miasma of self-abuse, the kind of pain that won’t allow for anything like peace. It’s a torment that Caleb eventually misuses as a weapon against Darcy and one that nearly ruins everything they could need or want from each other.
Four hours. That’s exactly how much sleep I got while I was reading this book. I didn’t want to put it down; then once I did, I think I must’ve dreamt about it because I couldn’t wait to wake up and start reading it again. I’d be lying if I said Caleb didn’t make me want to go all Gomez Addams on him every time he spoke. (And if you get that reference, give yourself a pat on the back.) Basically, I wanted to attack him with my lips. I know, that sounds a little scary weird, but it’s truthiness wrapped in weirdity, so there you go.
I really, really liked this story a lot, though, for reasons that go beyond my obsession with Caleb and Darcy. I loved the struggle and the tragedy and the passion and the rage inherent in their relationship, as they fought not only each other but the things that’d already happened, things they couldn’t change, but things that intruded on their relationship nonetheless, things that brought them to the breaking point and forced them to face the question of whether they could be together and build a future with each other.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. – Vivian Greene
Shelby Bainbridge has made a habit of living his life the way everyone else, especially his Senator father, the same father who has presidential aspirations, has dictated he should live. Once a ‘Bama football star, now nothing more than the shell of a broken man, Shelby has made it a habit of showing up at Deacon’s Place every Thursday for the past year of Thursdays, for a few beers, and, if he’s lucky, to find a woman who’ll take him home and make him forget who he is and everything he’s lost for a little while.
Joe Deacon is the proprietor of Deacon’s Place, and has been watching Shelby, each and every one of those Thursdays, not knowing who he is or what his story is, though he knows it’s not a happy one. On the night a hurricane is bearing down upon the city of Mobile, Deacon doesn’t hold out much hope he’s going to see “Thursday” at all that night, something he realizes he’s come to count on, but he’s seriously underestimated just how much the “come-for-the-beer, stay-for-the-atmosphere” routine means to the man Deacon has taken an intense interest in.
Playing out against the threat of a storm the likes of which neither man has ever experience—and I’m not talking about the hurricane—Deacon and Thursday give in to their mutual attraction to each other, creating a firestorm of need and emotion that leaves them both reeling and causes Shelby to run away as soon as Mother Nature’s storm blows over.
There’s too much baggage and too much pressure weighing Shelby down to allow him to admit he wants Deacon for so much more than just that one night of passionate sex. It’s too much for him to process, knowing that if he’s outed it’s going to cause a shit-storm for his father’s presidential run, not to mention throw him and whomever he’s involved with into the media spotlight. It’s so much better that he hide from himself and from the truth that he’s gay than it is to deal with the repercussions. Or it would’ve been easier if Deacon were an easier man to resist.
The 51st Thursday is a story of passion with a side of tragedy mixed in, set against an atmosphere of longing and denial. It’s not a long story but it’s not lacking in emotion or a connection to the characters. This is one of those books that I finished and asked myself if I wish it’d been longer and can honestly say, maybe. Probably. But then again, it’s always that way with the characters I want to spend more time with.