Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-173-3
Contemporary Romance, 2016
LA Witt’s To Live Again presents Greg Douglas, our 47-year old protagonist whose wife wanted a divorce on their recent 25th wedding anniversary. Apparently things weren’t working out for a while, but that’s okay to Greg’s friends, because now is a great chance for Greg, who isn’t sure whether he’s bisexual or bi-curious, to start shagging guys for real. Previous sexual encounters with guys, I suppose, weren’t real enough. His trip to a gay bar sees him tripping – literally – onto Sailo Isaia, a hot deejay.
Alas, Sailo is exclusively a top, and Greg has only topped men in the past. Sailo isn’t open for negotiation, so Greg is going to experience his first bumming. Are you excited, yet?
Seriously, the romance here seems like a dry lecture on relationships. I mean, who talks like this in real life?
His eyes lost focus, and he seemed to mull it over for a moment. “Well, if it were me, I’d want to know that my parents were getting back on their feet after a divorce. And I think if one of them could look me in the eye and tell me they were gay, I’d be happy they could be that honest with me.” He gently rested a hand on my chest. “But you know your relationship with them better than I do.”
I chewed the inside of my cheek. “They probably know their mother is dating again. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to let them know I’m dating. Dating a man.”
He smiled. “Well, you’ve finally had a chance to explore a side of you that you thought you never would. You have the opportunity now to be honest with yourself. So maybe this also means you can be open and honest with your kids about it too.”
I swallowed. “I… God. I want to, and then I don’t know if they could…right now…”
He squeezed my hand. “If they were little, then maybe they’d be angry and want you back with your wife because that’s the family they’re used to. But they’re adults. Change is still hard for them, but they’re mature enough to understand that their parents need to be happy too. It might take some getting used to, knowing their dad isn’t straight, but it might be a sign to them that you’re going to be okay after the divorce. Like you’re going to move on and be all right.”
Yes, everyone around Greg speaks like this. He’s surrounded by people who are secretly relationship experts, who just happen to also give him the big D for free. Lucky bugger.
People here don’t talk. They lecture him on the art of bottoming, the importance of communication, and even the dynamics of threesomes. After a while, I forget whether this is a story or some after school special on how being a thirsty bottom will change your life for the better. These characters are quite repetitive. They constantly ask Greg when he first started having kids, and then go wow when they realized that he started having unsafe sex at an early age. They also keep talking about how “generation today” are luckier and should do this and that and… is LA Witt qualified to lecture young kids like this? Why on earth is all that lecturing necessary anyway? I want to read a love story here, not to have old codgers in a story nagging people on how to behave.
Sailo isn’t human. He’s basically a big fat penis who can also give Oprah Winfrey a run for her money.
He laughed. “Greg, I had my son with a lesbian couple. You don’t think I’ve had a few awkward conversations with family members?”
“How did your families take that?”
“Eh, there were mixed reviews. My parents were happy to finally have a grandchild. Lea’s family was iffy about the whole thing right up until the day Mika was born. And C.J.’s parents disowned her the day they found out she was a lesbian, so I don’t even think they know about Mika. The rest of her family was thrilled, though.” He ran his hand up my arm. “Your kids might have mixed reviews too. And, I mean, you know them, so you’d know better than I do if they’re ready to hear this. But it could be a chance for them to see that you’re moving on, and not wallowing in the divorce. It’s good for kids to see that.”
Not only is his family a checklist of open-minded acceptance and what not, he is also the wisest deejay around. Don’t you wish the deejay at your neighborhood gay bar is this enlightened? Then again, he would only exclusively top, so maybe he’s not that open-minded to new experiences, snort. There is also the implication here that accepting that you are bisexual also means that you should bottom, as if these two are intertwined together.
Oh, and like basically every checklist “Gay! Bi! Lesbian and trans sidekicks! People of all colors everywhere!” romances, this one doesn’t just boast instant love with a cardboard cutout that has a college diversity committee opening note pasted on its forehead, it also has lectures and hagiography in place of realistic conversations, and a laughably sweet epilogue where everyone is bloomingly gay and happy in diversity utopia. To Live Again has little resemblance to real life – it wants to lecture while ticking off its “Look how diverse and open-minded I am today!” laundry list, and I suppose this brings us back to the question: is LA Witt really qualified to lecture readers on identity politics. bisexuality, and the art of bottoming? If she is, why not just write a textbook or something if she’s in that kind of mood? Things will be so less complicated if she’d had stuck to being an author and just written me a story.