Tangled Web by Terry O’Reilly

Tangled Web by Terry O’Reilly


Fifty-eight year old reticent banker, Kevin Baker works out regularly hoping to spot the man he’s become infatuated with, hunky Jake Whittiker. Kevin and Jake both have secrets. Secrets capable of destroying even a remote chance at happiness for the two men as they attempt to escape the meaninglessness of one night stands and brief encounters. Passion and testosterone, lies and omissions, tangled webs brought about by deceit. Untangling the myriad threads and revealing the truth is their only chance, but what will it truly cost?




This short story (~50 pages) tackles a lot of elements and unfortunately not all successfully. However, there is definite promise to the author’s writing and while this particular offering didn’t work completely, I’m intrigued enough to read other books by O’Reilly. Aptly named, Tangled Web deals with a myriad of issues all stemming from Kevin’s self-denial and his secret fantasies. While the story had some problems with the telling, I was left with the definite feeling that older gay men may identify with the characters and storyline much more so than I – perhaps a better target audience.

Kevin Baker is an older gentleman, staid in his life with a boring job as a banker and living in hiding as a gay man within his marriage. Kevin is described as in good shape but with thinning hair as he approaches fifty-nine. He is gay and doesn’t necessarily have a problem with his sexuality as he knows he’s always been gay, but struggles with his “duty” of having sex with his wife. He comes across very content with his life and never considers leaving his wife, even as he longs for the love and sexual passion of another man. Kevin’s character is still very much a mystery as his past history is never explained and leaves numerous questions unanswered. If he’s always been gay, why did he get married? How was he able to be married for thirty years while struggling with his feelings? Has it always been a struggle? Kevin didn’t get married until he was almost thirty but claims Gloria, his wife, was the only woman he ever dated and a childhood sweetheart, thus begging the question of did he really know he was always gay? The answers to all of these questions and more would certainly have given more depth and understanding to Kevin as a character and explain his present situation.

As a married (but gay) man, Kevin transfers his longing for the love of another man to the object of his fascination. Jake is a body builder at their gym and although the two have never spoken, Kevin fantasizes about Jake and fancies himself in love with the stronger man. Very little is known about Jake except he is clearly an openly gay man and mistakes Kevin for the same. After a few aborted tries, the two finally are able to hook up together for some steamy sex that changes from an innocent one-night stand into something much more. Jake has an obviously tender heart and a conscience as evidenced by his thoughtful actions even well after the proverbial paint as dried. However miscommunication and lies lead to far reaching consequences for both men and Kevin must face the truth of his actions.

Without giving away too much as the “twist” certainly caught me way off guard, the resolution was very interesting. This turned the story from being a weak first offering to something deeper with more potential. It may not please hard-core romance fans but it had a genuine honesty that struck a cord. While not a perfect ending, it may be an honest situation that married gay men find themselves struggling to handle. Unfortunately there were problems inherent within the writing as the style and prose was often too simplistic and felt amateurish. The descriptions and characterizations fell flat with very little complexity or depth to the writing, leaving the story too one-dimensional. The shorter length certainly worked against the story, as more detail on the characters and better descriptive writing would have helped.

While this story had some issues as I’ve described, the author shows potential. O’Reilly depicts honest emotions and issues that gay men face instead of an overly flowery fantasy of two sexy gay men romping to a happy ever after. In addition, it’s not often I’m flat out shocked by a twist in a story and this achieved not only that, but in an entirely believable way. For a first story (which I *think* this is), it’s not bad. I look forward to seeing what else the author has to offer. 

Get it HERE!


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3 thoughts on “Tangled Web by Terry O’Reilly

  1. The hero is 58 years old! How cool is that? Though you bring up some excellent unanswered questions that would probably drive me nuts. Even so, you make this story sound intriguing enough that I’m going to buy it. Good job avoiding the plot spoilers! At this point I still have no idea how the ending works out, and I’m curious to read it and find out.

    • I thought it was pretty impressive to tackle not only an older man, but a married in the closet gay man. Impressive! Like I said, this story isn’t the best and the writing is too simplistic but the surprisingly turn in the middle captured my attention and reminded me that these are real life situations and if you remember that… it strikes a cord.

      • Yes! Sometimes a couple of really striking, ambitious things like the older married guy thing (unusual!) or a startling plot twist can make up for some flaws in the writing. I’m interested in checking it out.
        And I love your ideas for the Challenge (that you mentioned over on my blogspot)!

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