Title ~ Changing the Things You Can
Author ~ Ari McKay
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 1st June 2014
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Devastated by the death of his best friend from a drug overdose, rock star Devon Bailey retreats to his hometown to grieve. When his fragile emotional state causes him to break down in a local bakery, owner Michael Behrman comes to his rescue.
Michael's nurturing instincts prompt him to reach out to Devon, offering support and a comforting shoulder, and the two grow closer. Michael's feelings for Devon deepen into something more--but how can he know whether Devon feels anything more for him than gratitude?
Devon is lead singer of Queen Anne's Revenge, a famous rock band—who as the story opens is devastated because his bandmate and troubled best friend has overdosed while they're on their Paris tour (no spoilers as this happens on the first page). Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, the tour is stopped and to get away from the media frenzy Devon escapes to his hometown where he still has a house that he intends to hole up in (away from the paparazzi and news hounds) until the funeral is over...after that he doesn't know what he wants to do, as losing Chad makes him do some serious soul searching. Bringing up a lot of deep seated feelings and questions about how his and Chads roles in the band may have impacted on Chads drinking and drug taking over the years...and what he's had to give up, personally, to get where he is at this point in his life.
Both he and Chad grew up there as children and formed the band together with their two other friends, Dave and Rick, but his true friendship had always been with Chad. Chad was straight but apart from a short lived crush when he was younger, their friendship had been purely platonic. For fifteen years Devon sacrificed his own love life, staying closeted for the sake of the bands fame so losing Chad leaves him feeling alone and isolated; Dave and Rick being married and caught up in their own upset and families.
Back home he hides away but realising there's not much food in the house, he takes a chance on not being recognised and goes out. He comes across 'Behrman's, a bakery from his childhood. Only this time it isn't friendly old Mr Behrman who's fronting the shop, its his kind hearted, good looking gay son Michael who not only satisfies Devon's yen for the delicious orange-cranberry scones he remembers buying with his mum, but also ends up giving him some much needed sympathy and a shoulder to cry on....
' "I'll be okay. It'll all be okay." How many times had he said those words to Chad? And he'd been so fucking wrong.
"Maybe so." The baker slid his arm around Devon's shoulders and plucked him close, offering a warm, one-armed embrace. "But its not okay right now. I've got a listening ear if you need one." '
So that’s the structure of it all but what you won't get until you pick this up is the feel of the heartfelt emotion, poignancy and tenderness that Ari McKay have infused into the story. This also fits the hurt/comfort theme of the anthology very nicely and is really well balanced between the two opposite moods, as a deeply hurting Devon finds his comfort from a sweet, empathic man whose thoughtful, caring nature helps him him through a time - and experience - that without him would be very lonely and pretty hard to bear. Finally with Michael he starts to feel safe, protected and sheltered and he opens up to him.
"I know I'm messed up. I know I need to get therapy, but somehow, when I'm with you, I'm more myself, if that makes any sense. You make me feel like just being Devon, instead of rock star Devon Bailey, is an all right thing to be."
Another appealing 'Daily Dose' short from the Dreamspinner 'Mended' Anthology and another I found really engaging. Being less plot oriented and more emotionally grounded this is less about passion and more about compassion, so the sex is fairly low key in this but it works for me. This isn't about just finding quick relief between the sheets, its more about the feels, so the kisses and sweet and tender love scene that we do get, puts the heart of the story across far more succinctly than a hot, in your face sex scene ever could.
I love how this writing duo co author. I never feel like I'm reading two different styles, they meld together brilliantly and I always come away feeling happy and sated, so I'm always glad when I get the chance to review one of their books. Short ... but a lovely little read!
About Ari McKay
Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who collaborate on original m/m fiction. They began writing together in 2004 and finished their first original full length novel in 2011. Recently, they’ve begun collaborating on designing and creating costumes to wear and compete in at Sci Fi conventions, and they share a love of yarn and cake.
Arionrhod is an avid costumer, knitter, and all-around craft fiend, as well as a professional systems engineer. Mother of two human children and two dachshunds who think they are human, she is a voracious reader with wildly eclectic tastes, devouring romance novels, military science fiction, horror stories and Shakespeare with equal glee. She is currently preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.
Ari McKay will be gifting one lucky reader an eBook of Changing the Things You Can, all you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.