Author: Rob Rosen
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages/Word Count: 262 Pages
At a Glance: Unfortunately, I found the whole “foursome” love angle wearying after a while.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: One man, four lovers, and just ten years to choose one set the Hollywood stage in this hilarious coming of age tale of family, friendship, and fate.
Eddie is in love. The problem is, Eddie’s in love with four men… four men simultaneously, that is. But whom does Eddie love more? And can the heart feel for that many men equally? Ah, but it does have four chambers, so four seems the most logical choice… at least, of course, to Eddie.
Paula is Eddie’s famous mom. One by one, each of his lovers comes to work for her, their lives so connected that if one of them itches, another one scratches. But who will wind up with whom in this comedic tale of life and love and friendship? In the end, it’s up to fate to decide what none of them could possibly have seen coming.
Review: Let me begin this review by saying that I am a Rob Rosen fan. His work is always sharp, intelligent and witty. While his humor is not for everyone, I find it to be refreshing and his stories to often be laugh out loud funny. Perhaps the best praise I can extend this author would be by remarking on his ability to write stories that are inclusive—allowing for quirky people who may not always fit the mould that we often find in contemporary gay fiction. In short, I enjoy this author’s writing immensely, so I was a bit surprised that his latest work, Fate, did not resonate with me as most of his work had prior to this.
Fate follows the coming of age story, and subsequent college years, of one Eddie Jackson. Having grown up literally following his mother to many of her one night only comedy show gigs, Eddie is amazingly well adjusted, except when it comes to being gay. Closeted, naïve, and horny as all get out, Eddie enters college having had only two encounters with a boy—one as a seven year old getting his first kiss from the boy he had literally grown up with, Brian, who was moving away to the east coast; and the other, also with Brian, several years later. This was when Brian accompanies his parents on a business trip to the west coast. This would be the Brian who, by the way, is seemingly straight, or maybe bisexual, possibly. In other words, the thing with Brian is confusing at best.
Off to college Eddie goes, and happily lands with a roommate who is also gay but refuses to be boyfriends, despite the heated attraction, because if they ever split he would lose a perfect roommate and best friend—or so was the line of thinking Curtis had to offer Eddie. From there, things get really shaky. Curtis is admittedly in love with Eddie, and vice versa, but begins dating Aaron, whom Eddie cannot stand—at first. Oh boy! Finally Brian reenters Eddie’s life when he is visiting the west coast and bunking in with Trevor—who is also gay and wants to date Eddie the moment they meet. So recapping: Eddie loves Curtis and Trevor and eventually Aaron, after he breaks up with Curtis. He has always loved Brian, who loves him but is not gay—at least not for anyone but Eddie. Phew! While that may sound confusing, believe it or not the genius that is Rob Rosen keeps every entanglement fluid and easily understood in the context of the story.
Eddie is really in a bind—fate does very unkind and yet oddly wonderful things to him. First it gives him four undeniably attractive and sweet guys to fall in love with, and, at the same time, it gives him…well, four guys whom he cannot seem to make a hard decision about. Whom should he choose? How can he choose, when each provides him with a wonderful sense of love and well-being?
As the story progresses, his mother ends up hitting the big time by using—you guessed it—her son’s being gay and closeted as fodder for her jokes—in other words she outs him on national television. That tidbit in the plotline gave me a bit of pause. While Paula, Eddie’s mom, was a wonder to behold and funny as all get out, I struggled with her being so seemingly callous about making her son’s sexuality the basis for her comedy act. However, that ended up being the least of my concerns.
You see, Eddie never really officially “dated” any of the boys he professed to love separately, except for Trevor. Yet, by his own admission, it really wasn’t sex with all of the guys—he genuinely loved them. In fact, it gets a bit stranger when you factor in that while Curtis was dating Aaron, he and Eddie were still having sex. Later, as summer break arrived and Curtis and Aaron broke up, Eddie was still dating Trevor long distance and yet he and Aaron hooked up during the summer months. Meanwhile every time Brian happened to drop back into Eddie’s life they fell into bed on a whim—yet Brian was not gay—he always seemed to sidetrack exactly what his sexuality was.
So, was there cheating? Yes, tons of it. Some of it uncomfortable—like the sex that was going on right up till one of the guys got engaged to be married and even then Eddie still wanted that guy—while finally dating someone who was outside the foursome who was actually pretty awesome. And please don’t get me started about Brian—wow—if that was not a real gobsmack of a resolution! But…the way in which Rob Rosen created the character of Eddie (whom I really did like) allowed for the idea that the cheating was never smarmy or hurtful. I must add a caveat here and say I do think that the one storyline that ran full tilt till Aaron got engaged was a bit too much and, for me, crossed a line, as did the Brian thing. However, while these four boys were in college, I hardly doubt any of them would have honestly cared who was sleeping with whom. Therefore, the cheating thing was not the big deal it could have been in a different type of m/m romance. Instead, it was part and parcel of coming of age and growing into one’s sexuality. In many ways, it made the story more realistic and definitely, at times, more fun to read.
Unfortunately, I found the whole “foursome” love angle wearying after a while. I wanted Eddie to get on with his life and when he finally did, it was done so quickly and so sparingly that I felt cheated. After all that angst and turmoil of who to love and feeling as though he had lost his chance with four great guys, when Eddie finally did find the one, Benji was given so little page time I felt that the story took a curve into a dead end. The story was done and I felt there should have been more time spent discovering the love of his life and less time having sex with the boys along the way.
All in all, Fate lacked the energy and humor that I so often associate with this author. It was a good story—but not his usual outstanding fare.
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