Title: Beneath the Stars
Author: Lynn Charles
Publisher: Interlude Press
Length: 349 Pages
At a Glance: Beneath the Stars is an outstanding novel that defies words or enough descriptive adjectives to do it justice.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: On the cusp of launching his fashion line for transmen and butch women, Sid Marneaux receives a life-altering phone call. His father, who raised his family alone, is in failing health. As he returns home, he wonders if he could lose the business he has spent most of his adult life building.
What he could not have anticipated was meeting Eddie Garner, the city’s new fire chief. After a heroic rescue, their romance sparks hot, launching into a swift affair. But Eddie is harboring his own burdens: the painful death of his best friend and the responsibility of raising her young son—their son—Adrian.
Through the wisdom of a child and the connection of mothers-now-gone, Sid, Eddie and Adrian venture and fumble to define family, career, and most importantly, love.
Review: I’m not sure how I’ve never heard of author Lynn Charles before, but I can tell you that I will be looking for her work from this point forward. Beneath the Stars is an epic novel and I completely enjoyed it. It’s rare that I fall in love with a child in a novel, particularly in a male/male romance story, but I can safely say that little Adrian captured my heart immediately. Perhaps it was because his father, Eddie, made for such an incredibly honest and loving character himself, or perhaps it was the way in which the author decided to portray the little boy in such a realistic way, hardly perfect and yet one that just grabbed the heart instantly. Either way, the duo of Eddie and Adrian was a real tour de force and made this novel both an emotional and whimsical story of love and survival.
There are really two distinct storylines presented in this book. The first is of Eddie, a firefighter, a gay dad, and a loyal friend. When his best friend, Maggie, decided that she wanted to have a child but not necessarily be burdened with a husband, she turned to Eddie and asked him to be the donor. Expecting that and nothing else in terms of being a part of the child’s life, Eddie agreed. What neither realized nor anticipated was that Maggie would get terribly sick, and Eddie would need to step up and become the father that he never imagined himself capable of being.
The other story follows Sid, a man on the cusp of greatness who designs clothing for women who don’t fit the mold. With his business just starting off, Sid is called home by his sister to help care for his ailing father who struggles with Alzheimer’s. Sid lives a half-life of sorts; one piece being spent back home caring for his dad, and the other in Chicago creating his business. It is an exhausting life but one he cannot escape, nor would he choose to for he loves his father, and it is nearly destroying him to watch the man fade away. With his time spent at home comes the responsibility of assuming the volunteer work his father did in emergency services, namely, showing up at fires and giving physical support to the families who have lost their homes. It’s on one such occasion that he meets Eddie for the first time.
However, Sid has no time for any type of emotional entanglements, much less a relationship, and Eddie has a new job as fire chief and…Aaron. But often what we think we need is rarely what we actually get, and Sid is about to be knocked completely offline by a tenderhearted man who needs to save people, and a little boy who only knows how to love full throttle. Sid doesn’t stand a chance.
This novel was just breathtaking in the way in which it gave voice to grief and it’s aftereffect. While never dwelling too long in sorrow, this story does not flinch from showing the various stages that a person goes through as they face the death of a loved one. From a child’s fear that everyone close to him will go away and never return, to a father’s misguided belief that he must mask the loss he feels soul-deep, Beneath the Stars faces down despair and elevates it to the heavens where comfort and peace are found. But mostly, this beautifully moving story shows how we can ease the pain for another by taking the risk of falling in love and holding on to each other despite it being the wrong time or place.
The magic this author works between Sid and Aaron, a man who never wanted children and a child who desperately just wants to love everyone he meets, is nothing short of gorgeous. Not in any way sappy or playing solely for the cheap emotional jolt, their developing relationship is a wonder to read. Smart and clever, this man and boy relate on a level few could ever hope to achieve, and it is through their shared loss that they unite so meaningfully. But it is the growing relationship between Eddie and Sid that makes this book sing. Theirs was a slow building passion that nearly collapses before it can fly. Author Lynn Charles creates strong, three-dimensional characters who live life as best as they can, and manage to find forgiveness in each other when they fail spectacularly.
Beneath the Stars is an outstanding novel that defies words or enough descriptive adjectives to do it justice. It is a story of triumph over pain and love despite searing loss, and I highly recommend it to you.
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