Title: Carte Blanche
Author: Nash Summers
Length: 61 Pages
At a Glance: Suspending a little disbelief isn’t much of a sacrifice here, guys. Nash Summers took no prisoners in her mad grab for my feels, so all the win.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Everything is white in Jude Allen’s world. The smell of bleach lulls him to sleep at night, even as he fears everything beyond the confines of his apartment walls.
But when Devin Kidd, a kind, smiley stranger moves across the hall from him, Jude’s life is turned upside down. This new man encourages Jude to look at himself for who he really is, instead of the labels attached to his illness.
Will Jude be able to face his fears, and embrace his newfound perception of himself without losing Devin in the process?
Review: “carte blanche
complete freedom to act as one wishes or thinks best.”
Nash Summers’ Carte Blanche was written from a prompt for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet event back in 2014. It’s still available and it’s free, so g’head and download it right now. I’ll wait ::waits…::
Okay, now that’s done, let’s talk about why I loved this gorgeous little novella so damn much. This is a hurt/comfort story, plain and simple, about a man who suffers from OCD and social anxiety disorder. Jude doesn’t leave his apartment, the apartment with white walls and bleach-cleaned floors and a plain white sofa that faces a window he sometimes even gets brave enough to look out of. Jude is a man stuck on repeat, forgetting to eat but always remembering to clean his apartment—often multiple times a day, and night, as therapy(?)—and existing within a pivotal moment from his past because, emotionally, he can’t move on from it. He is a man who’s handicapped by his need for routine and his need for order, and I adored that Nash Summers contrasted his hermitage with his job as a travel advisor. Jude can dream outside of his safe space, living vicariously through the research he does for the people whose vacations he organizes. Success Number One: I loved Jude.
When Devin Kidd moved in across the hall from Jude, he didn’t intend to upset the order of Jude’s life. He just did. Devin is a wonder. Success Number Two: Devin. That’s all. I have a Devin-shaped corner in my heart where he now lives. Yes, Devin. I love Devin, in case that isn’t clear. From the moment he shows up on the page, beautiful and kind, and he does things for Jude—things I don’t want to spoil because you should really read them for yourself—and he talks to Jude, and he shares with Jude that the best thing about his job as a swimming instructor is the trust in the kids’ eyes when they jump into his arms… Motherfreaking…you know that from that moment on, the best and most amazing thing Jude will ever do in his life will be to look into Devin’s eyes and jump into his arms with all the trust that he can muster. I want to cry just typing that because Nash Summers built the entire story around this single imperative—that someday Jude will find the courage to fall, and our persistent and persuasive and patient Devin will be there to catch him. He’s basically awesome and is just the sort of benign chaos Jude needed in his life.
This being a short story, of course it doesn’t delve deep into Jude’s psyche or all the hard work he puts into becoming the man Devin could maybe, just maybe, love (although Devin already loves him just fine the way he is, thank you very much), but he does work at it and I appreciate that the author didn’t rely on the love-as-the-magic-fix-for-everything trope we so often see in the romance genre. The story doesn’t give us much more than a glimpse of the way Jude’s mom plays a role in his affliction, either, and there was one point in my review notes that I labeled her “toxic”, although I may have passed judgment on her before all the evidence was in. There’s also Jude’s friend, Amanda. He keeps in touch with her via webcam, but we only learn the bare minimum about her due to word count constraints; she does, however, play an important role in Jude’s determination to live outside the box.
Suspending a little disbelief isn’t much of a sacrifice here, guys. Nash Summers took no prisoners in her mad grab for my feels, so all the win. There are so many gorgeous passages I highlighted while reading Carte Blanche, a sure sign that I loved it—especially because I highlighted so much of it in pink, the color that means something touched my heart. Seriously, it looks like the love child of Cupid and the Easter Bunny vommed on my kindle highlights. This one says it all, though:
“And then he kissed me.
Devin kissed me, and the whole world, time, the entire fucking universe, stopped.”
And that’s the moment—this earthshattering, horrible, beautiful, awful, chaotic, life altering, wonderful moment—that Jude began to change. Love, love, loved it.
You can download Carte Blanche here: