Sunday, December 13, 2015

Review : Out of the Blues by Mercy Celeste

out of the blues

Title ~ Out of the Blues

Author ~ Mercy Celeste

Publisher ~ MJC Books

Published ~ 9th November 2015

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance

Rating

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Synopsis

Whoever said you can't go home again should change that to should not go home again. As in EVER!
Mason Foxworth swore on his grandmother's bible never to return to the small Georgia town he sort of grew up in. And for eight years he'd succeeded in keeping that promise. Until his twin sister decided she needed to get married...back home...and she'd invited their parents. Wasn't this going to be a just a fabulous weekend?
Since leaving the Marines, Kilby Adams rarely ever left his farm and now here he was in Georgia, as best man at his stepbrother's wedding. Out of his comfort zone and with too many people that he doesn't know Kilby has nothing to keep his mind off the past except the gorgeous brother of the bride.
And wouldn't you just know it, there was only one room left at the Inn and Kilby would have to share it, with Mason, who was straight and....yeah, this was going to be one hell of a weekend.

 

Alan’s Review

A Stunning Romance

Mercy Celeste is a renowned author of gay romance. I’ve read many of her books. Some I loved, some I just liked, but “Out of the Blues” stunned me. It is, in fact, one of the very few books I’ve liked enough to read twice – and liked even more the second time.

At first blush, “Out of the Blues” appears to be a standard romance novel. But the more you read, the more you realize how deeply Ms. Celeste gets into her characters, their fears, resentments and anger. Like the layers of an onion, she peels away the obvious to expose the longtime pain and suffering that drives the passions of their lives. This book delves deeply into these lives, lives that are supposed to guarantee happiness, lives of great wealth, success, and fame, lives rich with extraordinary and talented friends, lovers and hangers-on. What’s missing, however, is the basics: the safety and security of fully-present and engaged parents, the attention and affection that every child deserves, the confidence to live a happy, successful life.

“Out of the Blues” is a “stealth” romance. It starts out with some very standard memes, for a short time, before quickly detouring into more powerful and emotionally-charged territory. Ms. Celeste uses a wedding as the pivot on which everything turns. Forced together, sharing a room at the Inn (no metaphor there?), Mason, and Kilby start out in dislike and end up in love – a love neither one is equipped to deal with.

Mason is the overprivileged son of Doug, a legendary (and rich) football quarterback, now retired and, at the age of 50, still handsome, fit and inaccessible. His mother, Arden, is a former model and D-list actress whose international fame stems, not from her talent or beauty, but from bedding half the eligible rich men in the country, seven of whom she married and divorced.

Mace and his twin, Harper (the bride) never had a home. Their mother never stayed married to anyone long enough to establish one for her children. She raised them in hotels, moving them, without notice, as she changed lovers. The only “normal” life they experienced, a brief interval of four wonderful years, was when the twins moved in with their young stepfather, Cody. At that time he was the greatest rock star on the planet. It was an unusual family, with Cody, the twins, his band and an assortment of groupies and hangers-on, but for at least a short time, they had a place to come home to and a stepfather who loved and protected them. He taught them music, they both became accomplished musicians, and they endured as a stable family, of sorts, until he died of cancer at the age of 35. The twins each have their own fortune from the royalties that Cody left them in his will. He had a special place in his heart for Mason, and left him all of his music, instruments, and publishing rights. But none of that compensated for the loss of the only caring parent either twin had ever known.

Kilby has his own baggage. Eight years in the Marines, until the day his married officer and lover committed suicide, leaving a note that read “I’m sorry. I loved you”. Although he’s out and proud (and gorgeous and built, as befits an ex-Marine), he has avoided all relationships for the four years since. In his mind, he rehashes the note in an endless loop, but without punctuation: “I’m sorry I loved you”. Though he’d rather be back on his farm, he’s here to serve as best man to his beloved stepbrother, Hunter, who is marrying Mason’s twin sister.

This unlikely pair, the idle and independently wealthy Mason (a barely-practicing attorney), and the hard-working Kilby, who runs the farm that’s been in his mother’s family for more than 150 years, are thrown together over a four-day weekend in which all truths are open game, all relationships are bound to be examined, and some people’s lives will be changed radically.

The sexual relationship between Mace and Kilby challenges both Mason’s closet and Kilby’s guilt. It grows quite unexpectedly and is incredibly intense. For both of them, it’s all about needs and desires neither is ready to acknowledge, so they put it down to just a “four-day fling”, at the end of which, Mason will go back into his closet, and Kilby back to his cows. And it’s all caught up in the echoes from the past that inform all the events of the weekend and most of the past few years of both men’s lives.

Ms. Celeste delves deeply into both men’s souls, and the family that redefines dysfunctional. Little by little, she leads us on a torturous journey into the past, with betrayals, abandonments, molestation and above all, a total disregard, by anyone but Cody, for the well-being of the young twins. When Mason disappears, without a word, immediately following the wedding, Kilby tries desperately to figure out why it matters to him so much, and if Mason’s breakdown and flight were his fault. Back on his farm, he poses the key question to a sympathetic and caring friend:

“What if you’re the one who broke him?” I didn’t know if I’d broken Mason. I think I found him broken and his broken called out to my broken and that’s why I fell for him.”

“Out of the Blues” is a book about brokenness, the damage that comes from a childhood without love, the damage we inflict upon ourselves and each other, and the damage an uncaring and prejudiced world rains down upon even the most innocent among us.

The climax of the book, when Mason’s father reveals the truth, exposing the lies the twins were told, past events rewritten in a more favorable light, his own part in this sordid tale, and his own cowardice, is not to be missed. It’s epic. It’s also the beginning of Mason’s healing, and the start of his journey to the future, to the farm just north of Nashville and the beautiful man still waiting there for him to show up one day. Fortunately, it takes some time, but he does show up.

At times, this book took my breath away. Imagine all the standard gay romance memes (and then some), but written immaculately (if anything, underplayed), authentic to the point of painful, and absolutely riveting, and you have some concept of what “Out of the Blues” is like. There’s not a false step in “Out of the Blues”. Though these people are certainly not like the people most of us know, they are human to the core, people who deserve, above all, a happy life filled with hope and love.

My only misgiving about this book is a few notable editing issues. An author as talented as Ms. Celeste and a book as good as “Out of the Blues” deserve a better editor and a fully-polished final product.

But that’s a minor complaint in a book that’s this much fun to read. Don’t miss it. It’s undoubtedly one of the best I’ve read this year. Mercy Celeste has truly outdone herself.

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