Leftovers by Treva Harte
Thanksgiving means family, and in their case friends–old friends and the best of them. Emerson was looking forward to sharing his new home, his culinary skills, his settledness, with his on-again-off-again lover Paul and their old college buddy Liz. Everyone always knew that Paul and Emerson were meant for each other. But years down the road, Paul’s on the road, chasing fame and fortune. And Emerson, for reasons all his own, refuses to follow him.
This year, though, Paul’s determined to change all that. To convince Emerson through charm, logic, and incredible sex they were meant for each other. What neither of them counted on was what would change after that.
This is a short, easy story that doesn’t make much sense. Paul and Emerson have been best friends with benefits for years now. They were a pseudo couple in college and naturally drifted apart as Paul went on to become a singing star and Emerson settled himself in Staten Island. The two would have sex every Thanksgiving until finally Paul decides he wants more. Of course Emerson has a secret fear he has to expose, which may change things.
The story is decent but the plot has numerous holes. Additionally, the characters are flat with very little background. There is no explanation on what the men have been doing for the past 8 years (romantically) when not together. Dating? Casual Sex? Emerson supposedly is in love with Paul and lives on the sex he gets at Thanksgiving for the rest of year due to his increasingly debilitating agoraphobia. When Paul finally decides he wants a real relationship with Emerson, he must also deal with Emerson’s disease. Unfortunately Paul is off on tour and must call in another friend to help.
The characters don’t exist much outside their very narrow outlines. Emerson is the stoic man who reveals very little but feels deeply. He refuses to have a relationship with Paul since he’s convinced no one will want him with his fears. Except of course he gets over them pretty easily once Paul tells him he loves him. Paul is the classic casual lover that wants more but not sure how to ask for it. It’s taken Paul years to realize his connection with Emerson is special and not easily duplicated. Only now is he willing to try to make a relationship work.
Although Emerson’s fear sets up tension and conflict, it was pretty easily resolved given how serious the condition is made to be. The love of a good man and frequent sex is enough to cure all that ails you. Although the message is uplifting and romantic, it just felt like an easy cop out solution. Furthermore brief snippets of their past are shown in short flashbacks that only show them arguing to no real purpose. The alternating point of view with no page breaks doesn’t help this. This felt like a good idea that fell completely apart in execution. Even the sex scenes felt muted and bland.
I get where the author is trying to go with the story but cramming everything into a very short novella space doesn’t do the story many favors. If the characters had been developed and given a past and history together, or one shown to the reader, this would have helped greatly while also showing the very real struggle Emerson must have gone through to start to get better. This isn’t a horrible book, but it didn’t quite achieve what it was going for.
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