Title: Flight Partners (Lovers in Japan: Book One)
Author: Artemis Fay
Length: 80k Words
At a Glance: Though this isn’t the author’s debut novel, this is her debut in contemporary M/M romance, one that I really liked and would recommend when you’re in the mood for a complete angsty package.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: When a charming stranger soothes Andy MacKinnon’s fear of flight, it doesn’t take much before the two are snuggling at 40,000 feet.
Too bad that sexy guy turns out to be Andy’s new coworker, Kenneth Ohno.
Oh no, indeed.
As two expats in Japan teaching at the same school, not only will they work together, they’ll share a small apartment. It’s get along or quit.
After the explosive chemistry of their first meeting, Andy wastes no time in laying down the rules. A relationship is off the table. They aren’t even going to be friends—coworkers is enough to manage for two twenty-somethings who can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.
But it isn’t long before their living arrangements hit turbulence. Kenneth isn’t the first roommate Andy’s fallen for, and the last relationship ended in a nosedive. Can Andy and Kenneth make a smooth landing?
Or will work and play get mixed up one time too many?
Review: Artemis Fay happens to be the alter ego of one of my new favorite authors. Why the alternate penname? Because her other series is a dystopian odyssey set in a nightmarish new world order. To say that Flight Partners isn’t that is like saying I like to read. It’s understating the obvious just a titch.
Flight Partner is a contemporary romance novel much like many contemporary romances I’ve read—two men meet by chance, get a little naughty, go their separate ways, and then fate throws them a lovely sucker-punch and they end up roommates in Japan. Okay, maybe it’s not so much like many of the other contemporary romances I’ve read before. What sets this story apart from some of the others are the little details, which the author has some obvious intimate experience with, and they’re what elevate this book above its familiar romantic tropes.
Andy and Kenneth meet on a flight from Chicago to Japan, Andy returning to a teaching job he’s had for the past three years; Kenneth hired as the new replacement for the revolving door of teachers that it appears Andy keeps chasing away. Fourteen hours on an airplane is just enough time for the lust to spark between them, and for them to act on it without considering the consequences of being in a confined public space with hundreds of other passengers. But, the real kicker is that they’re both unaware of who the other is until they arrive at the apartment they’ll be sharing for the schoolyear. Awkward? Obviously. But that’s not the first or the last bit of awkwardness or angst Fay flavors this story with.
When things begin to gain a deeper traction is when the author’s firsthand knowledge of the setting becomes evident. Even without reading her Bio, there’s no ignoring that Fay knows Japan and is familiar with the experience of having taught English there. Details go beyond that of having been a mere tourist to the country. Every single aspect of the setting has a completely organic feel and speaks to a more intimate involvement, one that even the most extensive research couldn’t imitate, and I loved that those details made the story interesting beyond its characters and their relationships. It also made the story itself more interesting by giving Andy and Kenneth a setting that worked against them in so many ways.
I most likely won’t be the first reader to say this in a review of this book, and probably won’t be the last either: Andy McKinnon isn’t an easy guy to like. He’s all fight and flight response—one little “L”, so much Andy. He doesn’t believe in mixing business with pleasure, so all work and no play has made Andy a bit of a dull boy. But, the great thing about fiction, especially romantic fiction, is that when an author paints one of their characters into a corner, part of the fun is watching that character work his way back out. In other words, Andy had to have a reason for behaving the way he did towards Kenneth—and almost everyone else. I just didn’t know what those reasons were through much of the book, so warming up to Kenneth’s prickly love interest made me wonder if his perseverance was going to be worth the payoff. Fortunately, Fay’s brushstrokes slowly begin to reveal an entire picture of Andy. And, in a nice contrast to Andy’s moodiness and standoffish personality, Kenneth is his polar opposite: sweet, sincere, kind, warm. You name it, Kenneth is it. And watching him struggle to acclimate to a new country with sometimes confusing customs is almost as hard as watching him try to understand the conundrum that is Andy.
For readers who don’t love the limitations of the first person point of view storytelling, Fay takes care of that by writing in both Andy’s and Kenneth’s perspectives; something that, in my familiarity with her work, she’s adept at. There’s not only the bonus of getting in both of their heads, but there’s also the fact that their voices and feelings and experiences are distinct and unique to them, which gives them and their story more depth than it all coming to us in one voice.
Though this isn’t the author’s debut novel, this is her debut in contemporary M/M romance, one that I really liked and would recommend when you’re in the mood for a complete angsty package.
You can buy Flight Partners here:
About the Author
I’m Artemis Fay, author of gay romance set in Japan.
While in university, I studied abroad in Japan for a year. That of course wasn’t enough, so having graduated with a degree in Global Studies, I returned to live and work there for nearly three more years.
First I was at an eikaiwa much like the one in Flight Partners. Later I worked at a daycare in another city.
So many of the background details of Flight Partners was taken either from my own experiences, or those I heard from friends. Even things that seem unlikely, like the state of oversight of visas (very lax!), are true to Japan. It’s a country of contradictions, but so beautiful it keeps drawing people back.
These days, I live in the US with my husband, writing by day, teaching ESL by night. What can I say, it’s a living.
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