Timeless by Patric Michael
Out since he was a freshman in high school, Nate meets Andy, who is gorgeous and unfortunately straight. They’re best friends through thick and thin until a practical joke leads Nate to a surprise revelation: If I had known just how thoroughly it would turn my world upside down, I would never have kissed Andy in that damned banquet room. I would have kissed him a hell of a lot sooner.
This is a sweet best friends turned lovers themed novella. Unfortunately I had a hard time connecting with the characters or understanding their reasoning. Some will undoubtedly enjoy the theme and happy ending, but I felt cheated to be honest. The first half of the book sets up the characters and their relationship. Andy and Nate meet in high school when Nate tutors the other man in English. They become fast friends and stick close to each other through high school and college. Their sexuality is never an issue, Nate is gay and Andy is straight, as the two behave like young men in their own dating pools – which is to say each is a relative slut but they’re still close friends.
The story continues giving a brief synopsis as the years pass until Andy invites Nate to a wedding of a family member. Here Andy suddenly decides to admit to Nate he’s had feelings for him all along and Nate must decide what that means for him. Unfortunately the two men don’t really talk at all. There is no explanation for why, suddenly after more than a decade, Andy admits his feelings. Why Andy chose then is almost not justified and Andy does so spectacularly. He throws himself into his first gay sexual experience with vigor, never doubting himself even once. Andy displays surprising confidence with his choices and never questions whether Nate may not feel the same. He even goes so far as to express anger and annoyance that Nate isn’t instantly receptive.
Although Nate caves pretty quickly, the real test is the next day when Andy shows his first case of nerves. It’s clear he does not identify as gay or does not want to acknowledge that publically. As this is supposed to be an emotional journey, it happens quickly and without the benefit of seeing Andy’s struggle so all the reader is left with is Nate’s feelings of awkward rejection. Furthermore, Nate’s willingness to crawl back into the closet seemed to go against the character. Nate is a proud, confident, and seemingly content man who didn’t dwell on his lingering feelings for Andy. I got the feeling Nate could get over Andy (and vice versa) with a little pain but there wasn’t a lasting deep love outside of their friendship.
The narrative is first person from Nate’s point of view and thus Andy is very much a mystery for the book. His motivations, feelings, and choices are never explained or developed beyond their impact on Andy. Although the two are friends, they drift in and out of closeness over years so again the sudden shift from friends to lovers just seemed jarring and unexpected. There wasn’t a feeling of continuity that usually accompanies this theme. That’s not to say it’s bad per se but the choice to use first person narrowed the scope of the characters’ development – almost entirely to only Nate.
The writing is decent and evocative, engaging enough that the pace is quick and moves the story along. It had moments of sweetness and a definite enjoyable masculine feel to the characters and dialogue but ultimately the connection didn’t work for me and didn’t make me believe in their romance. Perhaps others will feel differently.
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