Title: Scenes from Adelaide Road
Author: Helena Stone
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 164 Pages
At a Glance: Helena Stone excels at creating a voice for Lennart that keeps the reader fully invested in his life.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Can a young man find the courage he never knew he had when faced with losing everything he holds dear?
A few months before his final exams in secondary school, nineteen-year-old Lennart Kelly discovers he’s inherited a house on Adelaide Road in Dublin from a grandfather he never knew. Having been ignored, bullied and abused for as long as he can remember, Lennart can’t wait to leave behind his father and the small town he grew up in. Moving away as soon as he finishes his exams doesn’t cure his deep-rooted insecurities though.
Meeting twenty-three-year-old Aidan Cassidy in a gay club on his second night in Dublin, scares Lennart. Used to being ignored and ridiculed, he doesn’t trust the attention he receives and can’t believe a man like Aidan could possibly be interested in him. It takes infinite patience and understanding from Aidan to slowly coax Lennart out of his shell.
But the past refuses to stay where it belongs and Lennart’s father is determined to take the house in Dublin off his son by whatever means necessary. Just when Lennart is learning to trust and embrace life, a violent attack threatens everything he holds dear. Suddenly Lennart is in danger of losing his house, the man he’s grown to love and maybe even his life. If Lennart wants to protect Aidan and safeguard his future, he’ll have to find the courage he never knew he had.
Review: Lennart Kelly is already a broken and fearful man at the tender age of nineteen. After losing his mother at a young age, his father became an abusive tyrant who never failed to remind Lennart of how much a failure he was, or how disgusting he found his son’s sexuality. Picking up where his father left off, a gang of fellow teens made it their mission in life to physically assault and ridicule Lennart during school hours. A simple walk home from daily lessons could mean a broken arm or more bruises to endure.
When Lennart hears he has inherited a house from a grandfather he could not remember ever meeting, he sees his escape and takes it. Landing in Dublin means great change and a chance at a life free from fears and crippling self-doubt about his own self-worth. After meeting Aidan at a gay club one evening, Lennart begins to believe, albeit very hesitantly, that he may be worth something after all. Aidan woos him, and the two begin a slow dance of courtship. But Lennart’s father is not done with him yet—and if he has his way, not only will Lennart lose his house but his boyfriend as well.
What makes a novel such as Scenes from Adelaide Road successful is strict attention to detail and establishing a solid “voice” for the lead character. When you have a young man who has lived with abuse most all of his life, the story created around him can fall into a whiny sense of pity me, and lose the punch it might have. No such concerns in this novel, however, for author Helena Stone excels at creating a voice for Lennart that keeps the reader both fully invested in his life, and compassionate about his circumstances. Never whiny or long-winded, instead, each time Lennart falls into the trap of seeing himself only through his father’s narrow and abusive eyes, we are reminded again that this boy is only nineteen and his every response, be it fearful or paranoid, seems to just fit. By contrast, Aidan comes across as much older, more stable and very sympathetic—again, just the right mix of young adult (given he is just twenty-three) and a more mature man.
Beyond the very “rightness” of the characters and their interactions with each other, is the relationship itself. In many ways this could be looked upon as an “insta-love” trope, yet I would beg to differ with that assessment. While the feelings of love Lennart has for Aidan seem hasty and more derived from a sense of gratitude, it is the careful way in which Aidan responds to Lennart’s fumbling puppy dog responses that really created a sense of realism in their partnership. Aidan nurtured Lennart on so many levels—carefully guarding him from harm and also taking the sexual side of their time together very slow and explorative. Never rushing, always gentle and encouraging, the love that blossomed between these two men was admittedly swift but also decidedly genuine. Because of this carefully drawn love element, you could see Lennart grow more and more confident, and thus, made the ending of this story that much more realistic.
Scenes From Adelaide Road jettisoned Helena Stone into something more than a novice author in the m/m genre. I believe it firmly establishes this author as a creative and imaginative storyteller who writes stories that will definitely capture your heart and have you returning for more.
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