Title: Andrew’s Prayer (The College Rose Romances)
Author: Ashavan Doyon
Publisher: Torquere Press
Pages/Word Count: 267 Pages
At a Glance: Andrew’s Prayer had incredible potential but simply lost its way in the latter part of the story.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: For Andrew Tuttleman, sex is a means to an end. With a mother too sick to pay the bills on her own and college bills to pay, Drew has spent years resorting to sex with strangers to keep a roof over his mother’s head and keep himself at school, far away from the hell where he grew up. This summer, his usual tricks are still paying the bills. But there’s a new one, Grant, who never got the memo that a trick is a no-strings deal. Convinced that Drew is the answer to a hopeless prayer, Grant seems ready to pursue Drew to the ends of the earth.
Drew, on the other hand, isn’t so convinced. Grant comes with trouble in the form of a wife and three kids, not to mention a single and unwavering requirement: that Drew give up his livelihood. Grant’s kiss makes Drew ache for more, a romance that he never dreamed possible. He finds himself unexpectedly willing to try. Can Drew weather Grant’s angry father, wife, and a daughter determined to kick him in the shins so hard that he’ll leave Grant’s life forever? It all relies on Grant’s faith in an impossible prayer.
Review: Ashavan Doyon writes boldly about a subject one doesn’t often see in m/m romance novels. He delves into an area that faith and, by extension, prayer, can soothe and replace despair with hope. The extent to which both main characters’ reliance on prayer infused the plot of the story made it a risky venture for this author. At this time when organized religion seems to be hell-bent on destroying the gay community, this author’s novel seems particularly timely.
Andrew Tuttleman is home for summer break. In the fall he will begin his last year at university, and he hopes sincerely that his mother will be able to see him graduate. While her illness is never really given a name, we are assured it was a byproduct of a violent episode in her life. Andrew and his mother are dirt poor. Subsisting on scholarships to pay for not only his courses but his food and books as well, he lives as frugally as possible. Every cent he does make goes to pay the rent and toward the cost of the medicines keeping his mother alive. How does Andrew make his money? He is a high paid prostitute.
With little time for matters of faith, Andrew has been kicked around one too many times to believe in any god swooping in to rescue him. On one of his first nights home, he sets up a meet with a client. Grant is struggling in his marriage. With three little girls at home, and a wife who he found cheating with a younger man, he’s finally worked up the courage to learn once and for all whether or not the feelings he has buried for so long are true. Andrew will be his test case. Grant is nearly certain that he has been living in the closet for years.
However, the meet up doesn’t go quite as planned, for once the deed is done, Grant can’t seem to put Andrew out of his mind. Through a series of texts, he begs Andrew to meet him again. For the first time ever, Andrew had more than just sex when he met up with Grant. Strange and long buried emotions are struggling to get to the surface. Andrew was terrified of those feelings and the vulnerability that accompanied them. From the time of their second meeting on, these men would explore what it means to be honest and real, not only with each other but with their families. It is going to be a rocky journey, and with one more year to finish at school, Andrew may lose everything, including the man he now loves.
The first three quarters of this novel were stunning. Emotions ran rampant and the storyline was stark and gritty, refusing to sugarcoat what Andrew did to make his living. The angst factor ran high, as it should with both main characters forced to face facts about themselves they had kept hidden and buried. There was such harsh truth running throughout this entire section of the story. The plot most definitely drew me in, rapidly investing my emotions and compelling me to read further. While faith and the ability to trust in God’s providence was discussed throughout this section, I felt that it was realistically handled, particularly for Grant’s character. I also appreciated that Andrew craved the stability that seem to come from Grant’s expressions of his beliefs. Things were going well until the last quarter of this novel, when Andrew returned to college and, unfortunately, this is where the story began to turn preachy and just a tad bit unbelievable.
The struggles that both men had with the distance that lay between them, and the fact that Grant’s wife had come back on the scene to sew real turmoil, were understandable. However, there was a huge amount of back-story concerning how Andrew had been outed the year before that never was fully explained. I actually went looking for this novel’s listing to make sure it was not a sequel. I failed to see any indication that it was. Along with that, he also hooked up with various people on campus on the sly, and confrontations with them left me wondering just what had gone on in his previous three years. Also, there was an overuse of what I gather folks down South call homosexuals. The moniker given was “sissy boy,” and while I understood it being used while he was home, when he returned to school I felt the phrase really would’ve been out of place.
These things, along with what I felt was an unbelievable return to faith on Andrews part, made the last portion of this story a little unbelievable for me. I do enjoy this author’s writing style. I felt that most of this novel was incredibly real and touched on things that other authors adroitly avoid. However, I felt the direction that was taken toward the end, where the storyline became heavily influenced by religion and prayer, diminished the very real and raw emotions preceding it.
Andrew’s Prayer had incredible potential but simply lost its way in the latter part of the story. I do look forward to reading more by this author. Ashavan Doyon has a strong and important voice with a true talent for storytelling.
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