Author: Eden Winters
Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books
Pages/Word Count: 202 Pages
At a Glance: The Angel of 13th Street gives you a good hit right to the feels.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Noah Everett shed his rent boy existence for a bar and helping young men get a second chance at life. Haunted by those he couldn’t save, he keeps others at bay until his self-imposed loneliness is shattered by ambitious but homeless Jeremy Kincaid.
Aged out of the foster system, Jeremy’s the perfect target for a ruthless pimp like Willie Carnell. He wants no part of any future that includes working for Willie, but without a strong ally, he may not have a choice.
Noah knows exactly what Willie’s capable of, and if he’ll fight for strangers, he’ll fight harder for Jeremy.
Even if it takes confronting his own past.
Review: Eden Winters’ The Angel of 13th Street is one of the earliest M/M titles I read six years ago when I first discovered there was a gay romance genre. And, it’s the first (but not the last) book I read by this author that left me more than a little choked up–I love a good hit right to the feels.
Winters explores a dangerous but all too common symptom of teenage homelessness—that of the throwaways, the runaways, and the eventuality of what some of those kids are forced to do to survive the mean streets of the city. In introducing eighteen-year-old Jeremy Kincaid, Winters also introduces hope in this novel in a boy who—in spite of every single struggle that suggests selling his body to survive might be a better option than living in the dank and dirty basement of an abandoned building—is a brilliant student who refuses to give up on his dream of college just because he’s aged out of the foster care system and is on his own. Jeremy overcomes the tedium of going to school each day and putting himself in the line of fire of the classmates who see his tattered clothing and battered backpack and taunt him for it, and now, on top of those challenges, Jeremy has become the obsession of a man who refuses to take Jeremy’s no for an answer to a proposition that would find him tricking for a living.
Jeremy’s characterization leaves little room for argument that he’s everything bright and beautiful in this novel. Where we would be apt to understand if he were bone-weary, cynical, and perhaps even a little embittered by the hand life has dealt him, Jeremy doesn’t do self-pity, nor does he know the word “quit.” Jeremy’s the sort of boy you want to take home and feed a steady diet of nurturing affection and TLC, but he’s also the sort of boy you stand back and admire for becoming a man of character who’s wise and mature beyond his years. He’s such a dichotomy, our Jeremy is—courageous yet fearful, worldly yet innocent, strong yet still in need of the sort of partnership he finds with Noah Everett.
Noah is the Angel of 13th Street—businessman and sometimes savior of the boys who, after selling their bodies to whatever random john will have them, discover the hope that going home may still be an option for them. Sometimes Noah wins, sometimes he loses, but that doesn’t stop him from trying again and again to do right by the boys who remind him so much of himself at that age… Noah’s relationship with pimp, Willie Carnell, carries with it a past that may have broken Noah’s body and shredded his heart but served to set him on a course with a purpose. Looking to escape the life that Willie wanted to tie Noah to, Noah went about building his future on his bar, and the attached laundromat, and although it’s not a wealth-making enterprise, it’s his and it’s a place he can be proud of. Eden Winters made Noah a true every-man and then proceeded to turn him into a hero—a hero who needed saving. And Jeremy was just the man to do it.
Noah and Jeremy’s friendship begins in Noah’s rundown laundromat. Hurt, tired, starving and more than a little skittish, Jeremy presents as exactly the sort of boy Noah works so hard to send back home to a waiting family. It doesn’t take long, however, for Noah to discover how wrong his assumptions are, nor does it take long for him to acknowledge that he’s more than a little attracted to Jeremy’s warmth and intelligence. The fact that Jeremy is only eighteen-years-old, though, presents an obstacle for thirty-year-old Noah. How can Noah pick Jeremy up, dust him off, give him a job that may ultimately win Jeremy a college scholarship and a way out… and then allow himself to fall in love with this wonderful young man, all at the same time?
Eden Winters plays Noah and Jeremy’s relationship out so patiently, which is necessary for several reasons, not the least of which is their age difference, but also owing to the background drama and the danger that pursues Jeremy and insists upon derailing his life at every turn. This gives the reader the opportunity to get to know both men so well, to see that Jeremy is anything but an average teen, that by the time they’re both ready to accept their feelings for each other, I was beyond believing they belonged together and were ready to build something real and lasting.
Upon my second reading of this novel, I can say that The Angel of 13th Street has stood the test of time, and it left me feeling more than a little sentimental toward its characters. Filled with a heaping helping of drama, so many touching–if not outright heartrending–moments, and a believable, not to mention lovely, May/December love story, it was well worth the revisit of one of my first novels in this genre.
You can buy The Angel of 13th Street here: