A Different Kind of Love by Jay Mandal
Jay Mandal is unique in his writing of gay love ~ his uplifting stories focus upon romance rather than sex, on fulfillment rather than despair.
Of course, there are tragedies in these pages. Life’s like that. But the difficulties faced and the thrills enjoyed by his characters are the lot of lovers of any gender in a world both bad and beautiful.
This is a collection of beautiful love stories ~ sad, humorous, heart-warming ~ made different simply because the main characters share not only passion and compassion but also gender.
This is a collection of stories that glimpse into the lives of various characters. The stories tend to be similar and along well known and used tropes, but the writing once again shines with the humor and compassion of the tales. Although not a perfect collection and several stories begin and end in confusion as if missing essential parts of the telling, the overall themes of love, loss, and romance are evident. The fact that the majority (but not all) of the characters happen to be gay men puts a different spin on the classic story of love, but most times boy meets and gets boy. These stories are worth reading for their humor, romance, and depth of emotion for those who enjoy a glimpse into all the facets of love.
The undeniable humor that is thread through these stories shines in the dialogue and witty antics. This helps the collection as there is virtually no context or setting to any of the stories. Instead, readers are dropped into relationships and situations that are either ongoing, or newly beginning, or just ending with little to no understanding. Being able to quickly immerse yourself into a new couple is essential to enjoying this collection and those that struggle with quick transitions may not enjoy these stories as much. The scenes change with no noticeable break which jars the reader a bit. These problems persist with the screenplay like telling to "Atlantic Drift" and the completely confusing "The Last Laugh."
The writing excels when given clever dialogue and emotion in such pieces as "Head Over Heals" and "Cupid." The first being a humorous turn at an adventure park when a young man tries to proclaim his love for his boyfriend during the Swan ride. The ending arc of water is laugh out loud funny. The later story is about an unfortunate gentleman that loses his swim trunks in a rough wave but ends up meeting a sexy set of twins. You’ll have to read for yourself to find out what happens with that fun tale.
The collection also contains numerous stories where pain and heart ache are just as prominent as romance and a happy ending is not always guaranteed. Especially moving is the "Little Venice" and "Cold Light of Day." The former is about a nurse who unwittingly falls in love with a fifteen year old street kid. Gordon attempts to continue a friendship with the boy until he legal, but fate may have a heavy hand in their relationship. The later story handles a man coming to terms with his sexuality and realizing he was in love with his best friend. The emotional story shows the power of friendship and comfort from unexpected sources.
There are also a handful of stories that show gay and bisexual men dealing with their choices to enter relationships with women. Due to the family allure these men make the choice and show the power of family and working together to create a “different kind of love.” Both themes are handled in the interesting "Pursuit of Happiness" and "Child of Liberty."
My favorites however included the emotional and moving "Last Time in Bruges" about a couple who reflect on the good times and bad while not ready to let go but they may not have a choice. The story about a homeless kid befriending a bookish man in "Of Cabbages and Kings" was a bit heart breaking but beautiful. Thankfully this was offset by the clever and witty "Heaven and Hell" which features the repeatedly seen prop of the "Gay Times." Each of these stories stood about the rest in my personal opinion for their subject matter, dialogue, and writing.
Overall, this was a solid collection that contained both good and bad stories but celebrates romance in all its aspects. Fans of the author will want to read these tales and will have their own set of favorites. While not always successful as short stories, the dialogue is worth reading. In a collection of so many stories, you’re bound to find something to love.
Get it HERE!
[Originally reviewed for Rainbow Reviews]