Title: After the Romance Novel
Author: Susan Laine
Series: Before…And After
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 02-22-2017
Genre(s): M/M Gay-For-You
Page Count: 63
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Romance novels always end with a happy ever after. Right?
Evan and Adam are best friends, but they don’t know everything about each other. For one thing, Adam doesn’t know Evan writes and publishes gay romance novels until he discovers one while snooping on Evan’s laptop.
This revelation changes their relationship in ways neither could’ve imagined. Adam’s reaction to reading Evan’s stories is not what he expected, nor is the new way he’s looking at his lifelong pal. After all, Adam is straight, or so he’s always thought, and that is what Evan believes about Adam as well.
When Evan admits he might be bisexual, Adam suggests he try dating girls to find out for sure, but when Evan follows his advice, Adam is caught off guard by his feelings of jealousy. And when the date proves Evan isn’t bisexual, but gay, Evan’s request that Adam find him a guy might be the last straw.
How can Adam admit he wants that guy to be him? His epiphany will either end their relationship—or change it into something wonderful in their very own friends-to-lovers romance.
Short and sweet, After the Romance Novel, delivers a mildly-angsty read with some memorable characters.
Adam finds a book written by his best friend, Evan — an erotic M/M, in fact. He’s shocked and confronts Evan about it, only to find his friend has been publishing his erotic tales. And that he might be bi. It throws Adam for a loop, and when he starts having fantasies about him and Evan – ones that follow the plot of Evan’s books – Adam wonders if he’s as straight as he thought.
Evan decides to follow Adam’s advice and see if he is attracted to both genders only to find out it’s just men. He’s disappointed that his friendship with Adam suffers, but not for the reason he thinks. It’s a shock for them both when Adams starts getting jealous. What happens when it seems Adam might be attracted to Evan? And, more importantly, will their friendship survive it?
I enjoy reading the gay-for-you trope and with this book only coming in at some 60-odd pages long, I knew it was going to happen rather quickly. The setup was intriguing – a romance novel that ignites a romance? Yes, please! It’s low on drama, and when they both realize the truth, I like how the previous friendship added a deeper connection between them.
That last one is important as the romance does happens quickly. Almost too quickly — as in 0-60. Emotions run high and it gets serious. It would have been too unrealistic if they hadn’t been best friends already, and I probably wouldn’t have rated the story as high as I did.
I did wish there had been more focus on Adam and Evan as individuals rather than the focus on labelling. Generalizations are made, and it pulled me out of the story. The vocab threw me off too. I’m all for a good vocab, but the narration felt stilted in places.
The low angst really helped this story. When Adam comes to terms that he likes Evan, he doesn’t second guess himself, and I appreciated that. It didn’t feel bogged down with indecision, and these two characters were really sweet.
While the story could have benefitted from more page time to develop the characters more fully, After the Romance Novel is a solid read with a cute cast.