Title: Shadowboxing: Arbor Heights
Author: Diana DeRicci
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages/Word Count: 176 Pages
At a Glance: I simply enjoyed the book so much.
Reviewed By: Janet
Blurb: Wayne Hightower has lived with a secret since he was a teenager. Debilitating to relationships, his condition stands in the way of his father’s ultimate expectation: Finding a woman to marry. Of course, if he could do that, he’d have the grandchildren his mother was craving. And everyone would be happy happy happy. Or so he’d been raised to believe. If he could find her. If he could get over his problem.
Ditched by his brother for their planned night of sibling bonding, Erich Villalobos invites Wayne out instead as a simple act of friendship. One night that throws Wayne into an environment he’d never been exposed to and revealing a playfully animated side of Wayne Erich had never imagined. One that he quickly learns he’s actually attracted to.
Secrets. Everyone has them. Wayne. Erich. Even Wayne’s parents. If Wayne’s brother Curtis were still alive, he could tell Wayne the cause of his condition and how to cure it. But dead men don’t talk.
Review: I have enjoyed every one of Diana DeRicci’s books I’ve read so far, and I am pleased to add Shadowboxing to this list. She is an author who writes fun books with quirky characters that are well described and realistic, in whatever situation she places them. In this book we meet Wayne and Erick, co-workers who are friendly but have never socialized before. Erick sees Wayne just after he has been dumped by yet another girlfriend, and offers to take him out for a drink to commiserate. Erick takes him to a gay bar, and life takes a turn for the humorous.
I love the way DeRicci uses laughter to tell her stories. She creates laugh-out-loud situations which are tender lessons of discovery and personal growth so we, as readers, feel protective of the characters and are totally invested in their futures and hope they overcome the issues before them. Wayne is so closeted even he doesn’t know he is gay, and the author created a heartbreakingly awful family background to temper the sweetness of the growing relationship between him and Erick, as well as Wayne’s developing awareness of his orientation. I really enjoyed the drama of this story and the layered feelings that were created. The contrast between the easy falling into a relationship and pairing up that the characters do and their own rough backgrounds and personal histories adds depth to the story and resonated well for me.
I found this to be a fairly quick read, as I simply enjoyed the book so much. There were several plot lines that were explored throughout the story, and all of the parts fell into place at the conclusion. The background of Arbor Heights, the location of the story, is well built and easy to picture and a place I hope to see again in further books of the series. For me, Diana DeRicci is a trusted author of character driven love stories which always have a happy ending, and I was pleased to find Shadowboxing is another winner from this author.
You can buy Shadowboxing here: