The Nest by GS Wiley

The Nest by GS Wiley

Blurb:

Jay McIntyre’s main goal in life is to keep his younger siblings together and away from Social Services, who he’s certain will separate them if they know his mother left two years ago. Juggling two jobs and the responsibility of caring for three children, the nineteen year old’s problems are compounded when Jess, his younger sister, begins to rebel and when an old enemy is released from prison and returns to his housing estate.

Overwhelmed and at the end of his rope, Jay is finally forced to seek for help from a surprising source: Police Constable Brendan Cuddy.

Review:

I’m a big fan of GS Wiley’s writing and this particular offering is perhaps my favorite of her books. It’s not perfect but the writing is evocative and there is so much potential in this story, I really wish this had turned into a meaty, in depth novel. Instead Wiley keeps the story light and almost too easy in spots, but the texture and character given to the story and writing are engaging and inviting. This more of a literary novella with gay characters than a gay romance and it’s not erotica at all. Wiley doesn’t really write erotica – I remember I actually blushed when she wrote “cock” in one of her books, I so don’t associate that with Wiley – and those that are expecting any sex scenes or a strong romance may be disappointed.

The plot revolves around a nineteen year old who has had to take care of his family for the past few years since his mom abandoned them. Forced to grow up at a young age, Jay works two jobs and struggles to provide for his family – 16 y/o Jess, 9 y/o Zoe, 5 y/o Nico – as he deals with the police and old rivals in a low income housing unit. Jay gets unexpected help from a new to the patrol Police Constable, Brendan.

The story itself is rather light even though it tackles some big issues with great potential. There is the main character of Jay who is struggling with two jobs, three kids, and no time for a life himself. Complicating matters is the oldest girl, Jess, who is rebelling in a heavy goth phase and getting into bad company. Both Jay and Jess get involved in some difficult situations involving drugs and violence. On a positive note, none of these issues are depressing or bring down the light, easy flow and pace to the book. On the negative side is that none of these issues are fully fleshed out. Each is hinted out briefly and eventually pseudo-resolved but none are really given the time, attention, and depth they deserve. Their potential is barely skimmed with the easy handed manner in which they are treated. This story is filled with enough material for a much longer book and it’s disappointing that the choice was made to keep the story light and short.

The characterization is similarly skimmed with much more waiting to be explored. The story is told in third person, alternating from Jay and Brendan’s point of views. Jay is a complicated mess from his determination to do right for his family to his elemental fear of failing, his distrust of the police and his neighborhood. All of this combines to give a complex, intricate character that is shown in his day to day life but skims over the emotional road bumps. Even the scene where Jay is explaining to Brendan why his mother left is oddly detached with an almost clinical information dump. This pivotal scene lacks an emotional connection between the men that shimmers beneath the surface. The chemistry between the two is there, but never given full attention. Part of this is that the book also focuses on Brendan’s failed relationship and finally accepting his attraction to the younger Jay. Since the two have so few scenes together, the connection exists in their minds more so than their action and the story ends as soon as the two show a possible future.

So while there are clearly some issues with the story, what shines so brightly is the tight writing, great setting, and true texture in the story. There are small choices such as prose or dialogue that truly immerse the reader in the setting and the cracked sidewalks, depressing jobs, and threads of hope. The secondary characters from the neighbors to the other constables, even Brendan’s mother are interesting and almost given too much space at the expense of the main characters. The book draws you in with the small details, such as the scene with Jay scared for his life contemplating a knife but knowing what it would mean for his family if he got caught. The word choice gives an authentic feel and tone to the story where unfamiliar words or phrases don’t feel awkward and misplaced as so often happens in books.

Although I think this novella has the potential to become a truly stunning book, the story is still well written with great characters, an authentic setting, and the thread of hope and romance. The focus on the characters and how Brendan and Jay meet could set this duo up for a sequel and if so, I hope the issues and characters are fully explored and developed to their limits. I’d recommend this book to those who are looking for a solid story about gay characters, but don’t expect any sex or a lot of romance. I don’t mind but others may so be sure to read this when you’re in the mood for something easy.

Get it HERE!

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8 thoughts on “The Nest by GS Wiley

  1. Great review, Kassa! This sounds good, and this is an author I’m not familiar with. I should look this up. I’m glad that it found a home with Aspen Mt. Press (though I’m kind of unfamiliar with them, too). It seems nowadays that if you don’t want to write m/m explicit erotica, it’s hard to get published. But we definitely need different types of stories like this one that aren’t necessarily explicit erotica.

    • Hey Val, I know you’re swamped with books (who isn’t?) but if you get a chance, I’d love to know your thoughts on this particular one. I’ve read several GS Wiley books and I like her writing but I noticed this book got a poor rating on Goodreads. It seems most thought this was an erotic romance (poor advertising somewhere) and thus were disappointed.
      I’d love to see someone’s opinion approaching this as a fictional piece without added pressure.
      And yes! I’m happy with all the erotic romance offerings but I like an equal amount of non-erotic fiction too. So it’s nice to see some balance.

  2. Everyone hates me on GoodReads. I don’t know why. I think the people who use that really prefer erotica (and to be fair, this one was badly mislabelled by All Romance Ebooks, so some people didn’t get what they thought they paid for.)
    As an interesting aside, there was a sex scene at the end of the original draft, but the editor persuaded me to take it out on the very grounds that it didn’t add anything and there were, in her opinion, a sad lack of non-erotic books about gay characters. I thought this was good advice, although clearly opinions differ.
    Thanks as always for the review, and for keeping an open mind!

    • I think the lack of sex scene is perfectly fine in this book. Like I’ve said, I don’t really associate hard erotica with your writing so when I pick up a new book I always wonder what it will contain. Usually no sex but sometimes there’s heavy romance and sometimes not – I love the writing regardless so I always am willing to see where you go.
      I think in the e-pub world it seems the more erotica the better for a lot of readers. However I think your writing shines as is, but just my opinion :).

  3. Lucky me- I won a contest and this was the prize- I read it, enjoyed it, and ended thinking “What a terrific YA book.” With that in mind, I didn’t mourn the absence of explicit sex scenes nor did some of the lightly glossed issues bother me. I was slightly sick to my stomach to the very end, fearing that Jess would turn up pregnant, and I wanted to slap the mother silly from chapter two on, but that I was drawn in that much speaks highly of GS Wiley’s writing. It was the first work of hers that I read, but certainly not the last. (Just finished “Aniseed and Juniper.”)

    • Hi there! I agree! I think this was poorly marketed and a YA story angle would have been great. I never thought Jess would get pregnant but oh I had horrible visions of her drawing all sorts of cops and people to the family. Plus I wanted to slap the mother at the end. Who does that!
      I have Aniseed and Juniper but haven’t read it. I have high expectations :D. Wiley hasn’t let me down yet.

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