Title: Mascara & Bandages
Series: Mary’s Boys: Book Three
Author: Brandon Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 121 Pages
At a Glance: Between Witt’s skill and the inherent charm in the story, I liked the book and recommend it. The rating is more a reflection on my personal nitpicks and not so much the quality of the writing or story.
Reviewed By: Jovan
Blurb: Ariel Merman is a new drag queen who’s already finding a family at Hamburger Mary’s. After a performance as Ariel, Zachary Cooper walks home in his makeup and is assaulted by homophobes. Zachary’s worry that the attack has thrown a wrench in his good fortune is eased when he looks into the eyes of his doctor.
Dr. Teegan Chau is a little lost after divorcing his wife and coming out of the closet, but he can’t deny the pull he feels toward the young man he patches up. Luckily, Zachary takes the initiative and asks Teegan out. But attraction is the easy part of their blossoming relationship—as they deal with an ex-wife and child, being a drag queen in a heteronormative culture, Zachary’s lingering trauma from his attack, and Teegan acclimating to life as part of an out-and-proud gay couple.
The challenges seem daunting at the start of a romance. Can Zachary and Teegan make it through the rough patches and take a chance on the love that’s been missing from both their lives?
Review: I truly enjoy Brandon Witt’s writing, and Mascara and Bandages, while not my favorite of his works, is a heartwarming and sweet romance that exemplifies Witt’s skill with words and ability to capture humanity in all its faults and glories. After a brutal gay bashing lands Zachary Cooper on Dr. Teegan Chau’s operating table, the tragedy of his situation cannot overcome the instant connection Teegan and Zachary experience. While the timing of their meeting and Teegan’s lack of experience in dating and living as an out gay man make them hesitant, neither can ignore their instant chemistry. As the two men face issues—from dating awkwardness to homophobic parents—they uncover inner strength they didn’t think they had.
When performing as the drag queen Ariel Merman, Zachary feels beautiful, confident, strong and fearless, but without the makeup, he’s oblivious to his own self-worth, strength, and the family he’s found at Hamburger Mary’s. Although Teegan has been divorced from his wife, Kelly, for a year and has admitted to his parents that he is gay, he has yet to find the strength and confidence in himself to stop living for his parents’ expectations. However, that inexplicable bond they feel between them pulls the MCs together and helps them open up to one another and themselves as they stumble through their own self-doubts and the awkwardness inherent in getting to know someone.
Witt does a good job making their dates and courtship charming and realistic, and the story overall is enjoyable. I personally, just felt there were certain elements/moments here and there that didn’t quite fit and kept me from fully engaging with the characters and story. Zachary seems like a nice guy who is insecure about being a femme gay man, and is so wrapped up in mourning his parents that he is a blind to the love of the family he’s found. Beyond that, I just didn’t get much from his character. Then there’s Teegan, who, on the one hand, gets so distraught when he has to treat homophobia assault victims that he has called/visited his wife on multiple occasions in the middle of the night, yet isn’t more concerned about Zachary’s mental state, especially after he had a post-traumatic-stress induced attack on their first date.
Moreover (and yes, it’s nitpicky), but the first time Teegan sees Zachary without a shirt is within about two weeks of an attack where he was kicked so viciously by three men in his torso and groin area that he needed surgery, yet seeing Zachary, who should still be black, blue and yellowish-green has no effect on Teegan, other than an appreciation for his beauty—again this is the same man who cries on his ex-wife’s shoulder when he treats strangers. I appreciate Teegan not treating Zachary as a victim, but I feel like as sensitive and caring as Teegan’s response to the gay bashing is meant to portray him as, the lack of concern with Zachary was just a weird disconnect for me. However, at the end of the day, between Witt’s skill and the inherent charm in the story, I liked the book and recommend it. The rating is more a reflection on my personal nitpicks and not so much the quality of the writing or story.
You can buy Mascara & Bandages here:
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