Review of Partners, by T. L. Stowe

PartnersI picked up a copy of Partners, by T. L. Stowe from the Amazon free list. At the time of posting it was still free.

Description from Goodreads:
When two gay policemen, both desiring each other, finally discover the other is also gay, sparks fly, long time erotic desires are fulfilled, and questions of unrequited love begin to hang in the air. Will a heart be broken or will lust blossom into mutual love?

Review:
I’m afraid this review is all about the numbers. I didn’t plan it that way, but it turned out that way.

I picked this book up because I recently wrote a blog post about how much it annoys me when authors put tags in book titles on Amazon. I chose this book as an illustration of this, because it went one step farther. On Amazon it’s titled as such: Gay Romance: Partners: Gay Romance by T. L. Stowe (Author), Gay Fiction (Foreword). Seriously, did they think I’d miss that this is a book about gay men? And if I did, did they think I’d miss the first “Gay Romance” or the second? Better throw it in as an author too. And just in case I did somehow miss it, they use the word gay a further 13 times in the two-paragraph book description. The whole blurb is only 134 words long, so a full 10% of it is the word gay! I love m/m, but surely I’m not alone in thinking that’s overkill. Just how stupid do the authors think their readers are? I was astounded.

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But then, I thought it might be parody and as parody I thought it might be a little funny. It reminded me a bit of Daffyd Thomas (Little Britton) who, despite being questionably gay, repeatedly insists that he’s the only gay in village, while remaining oblivious to the fact that everyone around him is having copious amounts of gay sex (unlike him).

So, I decided I’d best just read the book. Well, it’s not a parody. It’s a serious novel, yes, about gay men. And other than having two points that irritated me, it could have been an ok read…except the numbers. The author’s tendency to overuse words, as noticed in the blurb, haunted me throughout the book. And because I read on a Kindle I can show you just how much. These words stood out, not just because they were used so often, but because they were also unnecessary. I get it; these men are cops and thus, a bit dude-bro like. But the use of direct addresses tacked onto the end of sentences was vastly overplayed.

They called each-other buddy 28 times. And it felt like soooo many more. As soon as they kissed the first time the baby & babes stared. They used those endearments 40 times. But it was man that really stood out. It was used 245 flipping times in this book! Granted, some of them are obviously used as a standard noun, as in ‘The man turned around.’ But the vast majority were used as a direct addresses, as in the last comment of the book, ‘Me too man. Me too.’ And they’re all just like that, with no comma. I would really like to know what a me too man is. You can probably imagine what the combined effect of all these extra words was. Could someone maybe lend me something to pry my eyes from the back of my skull?

With a decent editor to address the repeat words, typos (come on, there’s one in the first line of the book, the fourth freakin’ word), missing words and grammar mistakes (commas, people, commas) this might have been pretty good. It’s a very sweet, friends to lovers, first time gay, maybe GFY book…except the wife.

Now, this is a personal niggle but I have never figured out why so many MM books have to create some false competition between gay men and straight women. I didn’t like that the author went to such lengths to highlight how much better sex with Alex was for Rick than with his wife. Prefer one to the other, but don’t make it about debasing the woman just because you have a preference. Similarly, I disliked that she was made out to be such a witch because she was always suspecting Rick of sleeping with other women. Fair enough, he wasn’t and that would get old, but he was fucking a man, so it’s kind of difficult to claim the moral high ground here and this dichotomy was never addressed. Really, the wife was hardly even considered as anything other than an obstacle to them moving in together and this wasn’t fair to her. Such selfish callousness (ostensibly excused because she’s supposed to be a b/witch) made it hard for me to respect the men or their HEA.

Lastly, Alex is gay. Rick is attracted to women and men, but by the end of the book he’s calling himself gay instead of bi (his attraction to women doesn’t seem to have died or anything) and this felt a bit like…is there such a thing as gay washing, like white washing in race relations, where everything but the dominant categories are glossed over and downplayed? I don’t know. While everyone is obviously entitled to their own sense of self-identity, it didn’t feel quite right to me.

All in all, a sweet enough story but, objectively speaking, it’s a pretty rough draft.

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