Sunday, June 26, 2016

Release Day Review: A More Perfect Union (Anthology) by B.G. Thomas, Jamie Fessenden, Michael Murphy and J. Scott Coatsworth


Title: A More Perfect Union

Authors: B.G. Thomas, J. Scott Coatsworth, Jamie Fessenden, Michael Murphy

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release: 26th June 2016

Genre: M/M (contemporary)

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On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made a monumental decision, and at long last, marriage equality became the law of the land. That ruling made history, and now gay and lesbian Americans will grow up in a country where they will never be denied the right to marry the person they love.

But what about the gay men who waited and wondered all of their lives if the day would ever come when they could stand beside the person they love and say, “I do?”

Here, four accomplished authors—married gay men—offer their take on that question as they explore same-sex relationships, love, and matrimony. Men who thought legal marriage was a right they would never have. Men who, unbelievably, now stand legally joined with the men they love. With this book, they share the magic and excitement of dreams that came true—in tales of fantasy and romance with a dose of their personal experiences in the mix.

To commemorate the anniversary of full marriage equality in the US, this anthology celebrates the idea of marriage itself, and the universal truth of it that applies to us all, gay or straight.

Someday, by B.G. Thomas

Lucas Arrowood is walking to school on his first day of kindergarten when he meets Dalton Churchill—a boy who stops and helps him tie his shoe. He knows from that moment he is going to marry that boy one day.  “Boys can’t marry other boys,” his mother explains, but that doesn’t stop Lucas. He knows what he wants.

He and Dalton become best friends—and then, no matter how much he resists, Dalton falls in love with Lucas. Dalton's very conservative family can't accept that their boy loves another boy, but finally Dalton stands up for love and for Lucas. Still, he declares he won't marry Lucas until it is legal everywhere. He hates the “Commitment Ceremonies” gay men have. They aren’t the real thing. Why bother?

So Lucas waits for his day. The day same-sex marriage finally becomes legal and he can be joined forever with the love of his life.

Flames, by J. Scott Coatsworth

Alex and Gio had a big fight, and Alex ran away. Then a fire at home destroyed the life they had built together, and threatened to take Gio away from him.

Alex had always thought love was enough to keep them together. Why did they need wedding rings or legal certificates? But now, with Gio lost in a coma, his mother has banished Alex from his side.

What if Alex’s voice is the only thing that can bring Gio back from the brink? Their memories are all Gio has left, and the urge to just let go is getting stronger.

Still, nothing can keep Alex from Gio's side. If it’s against the rules, he’ll break them. In stolen moments alone together, Alex fights to bring him back, one memory at a time.

Destined, by Jamie Fessenden

When Jay and Wallace first meet at an LGBTQ group, they have no idea they’ll be dating six years later. In fact, they quickly forget each other’s names. But although fate continues to throw them together, the timing is never quite right. Finally they’re both single and realize they want to be together… but now they can’t find each other! With determination and the help of mutual friends, Jay and Wallace can finally pursue the relationship they’ve both wanted for so long.

It’s only the beginning of the battles they’ll face to build a life together.

From disapproving family members all the way to the state legislature, Jay and Wallace’s road to happily ever after is littered with obstacles. But they’ve come too far to give up the fight.

Jeordi and Tom, by Michael Murphy

Living as an open, loving gay couple in the rural South isn’t easy—even today.

When Jeordi and Tom move in together and come out to their families, Jeordi's family does not take the news especially well. When yelling doesn’t work, they send in one sibling after another to try to separate the couple. When that fails, they call out their pastor to help Jeordi see the error of his ways. But Jeordi’s love for Tom is greater than anything they throw at them.

When an accident sends Jeordi to the hospital, his family goes too far when they try to keep Tom from visiting his partner. Jeordi and Tom are determined to do everything in their power to gain legal protection so this can never happen again. But when a bigoted county clerk refuses to issue them a marriage license, Jeordi decides a big, bold effort is called for, which is precisely what he sets in motion so no one can ever separate him from Tom again.

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Mark’s Review

Yes, it was a great day, wasn’t it? An historical one when the Supreme Court in the US made marriage equality real. I remember sat here in Germany also cheering for joy for my American brothers and sisters, going around with a silly goofy smile on my face all day. And if you’re going to celebrate something then what better way than to write about and bring out an anthology of short stories.

I admit that I’m usually a little reticent when taking on anthologies. Especially when you know before how the stories will all end in this case obviously  with a wedding. It’s like dipping into a box of chocolates. Some stories can be deeply satisfying, others leaving you wanting more, others not coming quite up to the mark you would like. However, I’m delighted to say that here four authors have treated me to four delightful stories. SO with no further adieu lets look at the stories together.

Flames, by J. Scott Coatsworth ~ 3.5 Stars

This story deals mainly with the inherent problem of what can happen when your partner ends up in hospital and your visitation rights are stopped due to a parent who doesn’t accept your relationship. It was poignantly written and shows us that delaying on the marriage front can cause heartache without end.

After being rescued, Gio is in a coma in hospital due to the house burning down where he lives with his partner Alex. Alex and Gio had an argument and Alex left the house in a huff and spent the night somewhere else. Although they have been together for a number for years, Alex never wanted to get married as that would be too heteronormative. Oh my, how he regrets this now. I loved the way that during Alex’s talks with Gio we meet Gio in a kind of limbo dreamworld where he dreams about his past with Alex. Knowing that Alex is calling to him but can’t find a way out of this limbo, namely his coma that he is in. He has to let go and follow Alex’s voice to find his way back.

The desperation on both sides to be reunited is heartbreaking and once Gio awakes then there is no doubt for either of them in how this has to end. It is a story about regrets and forgiveness. About overcoming your built in attitudes, especially in the case of Gio’s mother, who eventually sees the love that Alex has for her son is what matters and not what she has been taught all those years by the church and her upbringing. A great story that shows us exactly why marriage equality had to be!

Jeordi and Tom by Michael Murphy ~ 3 Stars

This was a nice tale about two guys who have to face all kinds of bigotry. First of all from Jeordi’s family who are hell bent on trying to convert him back to the right path and see his partner Tom as the bad influence who has corrupted their son. I guess that even today this is still a big problem with some and makes me angry about some of the bigoted attitudes all in the name of religion. Jeordi however remains steadfast and doesn’t let his family interfere with the relationship he has with Tom. Jeordi has an accident which lands him in hospital and as with the story above we see how being not married in this situation can cause all kinds of problems. This story exemplifies the more bigoted attitudes of others but together they are strong and go to Washington DC to get married after their local registrar in the name of her beliefs refused to marry them although it is now the law of the land. Sound familiar? Yes, the face of Kim Davis crept into my mind all over again. The narrative style is very straightforward and was easy to read. It felt to me more like a biographical account of someone’s own experiences. It unfortunately didn't let me connect with the characters in a way I would have liked but it was definitely an entertaining read all the same.

Destined by Jamie Fessenden ~ 3.5

This story deals with what I would only call fate and destiny. If you are meant to be with someone then it will happen. Jay is rather conservative working in a normal job that although he likes doesn’t really represent his more esoteric interests. He goes to a Wycan meeting and meets Wallace. The attraction is immediate but after he loses sight of Wallace and several years later after being in a relationship that has been far from perfect and satisfactory decides to go on the hunt for Wallace. Even that one single chance meeting he never forgot after all those years have now passed. I liked the way that this story shows us that when you meet someone and you feel or know it’s right you should never let that chance slip through your fingers. You need to hold on to it and never let go. This is exactly what jay and Wallace do after finding each other again and to make sure that they are never parted end up celebrating this with a beautiful Victorian style wedding ceremony at the end.

Someday by B.G. Thomas ~ 4 Stars

OK, this story did bring a tear of joy at the end. It’s a difficult thing to write a short story that takes the reader through a number of years but I felt this was done really well here. Lucas meets Dalton while at Kindergarten and Lucas is even at this very tender age besotted by his new best friend. At that age he doesn’t know what it all really means of course but he wants to marry Dalton. It was such sweet and innocent moment when he says this to his mum. I could just imagine this. From here on in we are treated to a wonderful story of how these two remain the best of friends through childhood up to adult life but Lucas’s secret desire to marry Dalton never leaves. When they become teenagers Lucas is out and open thanks to an understanding mum but Dalton’s parental situation is very different and makes it difficult for him to accept who he is.

I love stories that take you on a journey and this one captured my imagination. The dogged belief from Lucas that one day he will marry Dalton, the teenage dramas, the young adult hopes, later forming a solid adult relationship and all the way through this Lucas’s one wish to be able to marry the man he loves. I had the chance to connect with the characters on an emotional level knowing their shared history. When the day comes where he can do this I must admit to choking up a little bit at the proposal and subsequent wedding only to know that Lucas has now got his lifelong wish.

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The Authors


author-thomas-bgB.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and their fabulous little dog. He is lucky enough to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends. He has a great passion for life.

B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to literature conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.

In the nineties, he wrote for gay magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. Gay men are what he knows best, after all—since he grew out of being a “practicing” homosexual long ago. He submitted a story and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the stories have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of stories!”

“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message to all. “It is never too late,” he states. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”




author-coatsworth-j-scottScott has been writing since elementary school. After leaving writing for twenty years, Mark, his husband, told him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Mark and Scott have been together for twenty four years. They met at the Pacific Center, an LGBT center in Berkeley, California, in 1992. They dated for two weeks, and then Scott moved in with Mark, and the rest is history. They run their own business together, study Italian, and are almost never found apart.




author-fessenden-jamieJamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple of short pieces in his high school's literary magazine, but it wasn't until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie published his first novella in 2010, and has since published over twenty other novels and novellas.

After legally marrying in 2010, buying a house together, and getting a dog, Jamie and Erich have settled down to life in the country, surrounded by wild turkeys, deer, and the occasional coyote. A few years ago, Jamie was able to quit the tech support job that gave him insanely high blood pressure. He now writes full-time... and feels much better.




author-murphy-michaelMichael Murphy met his husband Dan thirty-four years ago during a Sunday service at MCC in Washington, DC when a hot, smart man sat down beside him. Due to a shortage of hymnals they had to share.  The touch of one hand on the other in that moment was electric. Sparks flew that day. Though neither had planned it, they spent the day together followed by the night.  From that day, for more than three decades they’ve rarely been separated, each finding in the other their soul mate.

In the District of Columbia, where they lived, marriage became possible in early March 2010.  The minute it happened they were in line to get a marriage license, only to be stumped because the license required the name of the person who was going to marry them. There was such a sudden rush of same sex couples wanting to get married that the office already had a two-month backlog before an appointment could be secured.  Since they weren’t at all convinced that the Congress wasn’t going to step in and do something stupid to take away this right, they started calling everywhere to find someone who would marry them. It might be legal, but finding someone to marry them was proving to be a challenge.

When an article appeared in the newspaper telling of a small, local United Methodist Church that had decided to go against general church policy because marriage equality mattered deeply to them, a conversation started.  After a series of emails and phone calls, suddenly they were seated with two retired UMC ministers who were willing to risk it all to do the right thing.  A few days later, license in hand, surrounded by a handful of friends and their best dog, Shadow, they were finally legally married.


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