“You can’t stay in the closet forever, Damon. Someday secret little meetings and stolen kisses won’t be enough for either of us.” – Khloe Knight
Author: Khloe Knight
Pages/Word Count: 40 Pages
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Blurb: Jason has had a crush on Damon Nixon ever since he figured out he liked boys. After one fateful day at summer camp Jason’s dream finally comes true as he and Damon begin meeting in secret. But the waters of this new relationship are tested when school comes around and the weight of this secret becomes heavier than either boys expects.
Enter Dean Hardy. When the new openly gay bad boy takes an interest in Jason the stakes rise and it seems like there is no way to keep Damon’s secret and be happy at the same time. Will Jason and Damon overcome the pressure of being together? Or will Jason decide he doesn’t want to be someone’s secret any longer.
Review: Khloe Knight’s Always is a short but ultimately very touching story of a high school football player who’s so busy living up to everyone’s expectations of the straight jock persona that he’s almost able to forget he’s gay and in a relationship with a guy.
It’s Damon and Jason’s senior year and while Jason’s out, Damon is only just now coping with his attraction to the boy who doesn’t take crap from anyone in spite of the fact they’re willing to sling plenty of it his way, especially the jockstrap jockey who doesn’t believe guys like Jason belong in the same locker room with him. Jason’s courage and unflinching attitude were definitely high points in this story, and fit perfectly with his need to be with someone who could claim him openly and proudly rather than keep him a dark little secret.
Dean Hardy is the someone who steps in and not only shows Jason what he’s been missing in the dating department, but also serves as the catalyst for Damon to finally come to terms with, and then finally admit openly, the idea that simply because he can have sex with girls it doesn’t make him straight. While Dean may serve as a simple device to create conflict and move the story forward, he’s also a character whose cheek and confidence I enjoyed a lot.
Always is a story that’s low on the angst and populated with everyday people who served as a great source of support for Jason and Damon, from Jason’s best friend Clare, to Damon’s dad, to the coach who makes it very clear where he stands on the subject of bullying. It’s a bit of a refreshing change from the usual antagonists found in the adult macho paradigm of M/M coming-of-age fiction, and is what helps support this story’s sweet label.
While there are copious issues with the text that could have been avoided with a good proofreading or three, that niggle was minimal in relationship to my overall enjoyment of the story. I’d have loved to see Always expanded a bit to flesh out Damon and Jason’s relationship more fully, as well as a bit more exposition in the resolution so it didn’t feel quite so easy and rushed, but those wants wouldn’t keep me from telling you to turn off your inner editor and give this one a try.