BE­NEATH THE STARS

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight - CLAIRE FOS­TER

Lynn Charles, In­ter­lude Press, Soft­cover $17.99 (300pp), 978-1-945053-17-7 This con­tem­po­rary ro­mance has di­men­sion and depth.

Be­neath the Stars, Lynn Charles’s won­der­ful con­tem­po­rary ro­mance novel, con­nects the dots be­tween un­likely lovers Sid and Ed­die as they try to mesh their lives’ ec­cen­tric or­bits. Tak­ing on se­ri­ous sub­jects such as grief, pro­gres­sive fash­ion, and co­par­ent­ing, this gay ro­mance is am­bi­tious and sat­is­fy­ing.

On pa­per, Sid Marneaux and Ed­die Gar­ner couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent. Sid’s mixed-race, el­e­gant, cos­mopoli­tan, and snappy. Ed­die, a small-town fire chief, dates “dun­der­heads,” and tries to bal­ance his sched­ule with full-time fa­ther­hood. How­ever, un­der the sur­face, they have a lot in com­mon: both men are mourn­ing the deaths of women they loved whose in­flu­ence they still feel in their daily lives. Ed­die sees his best friend in the face of her child, who he’s rais­ing. Sid, who runs a couture busi­ness for non­bi­nary peo­ple and trans men, hears his mother’s voice ev­ery time he sits at the sewing ma­chine. Although their ini­tial flir­ta­tion is sexy and light, they quickly bond over more sub­stan­tial things.

Charles is an in­cred­i­ble writer whose sto­ry­telling keeps pace with her el­e­gant way with words. In one sen­tence, she eas­ily sets the scene. As Sid re­flects on his fa­ther’s de­clin­ing health, he notes, “His stargaz­ing days with his fa­ther had gone by the way­side for more im­por­tant happenings on earth. The few stars he could see through the light pol­lu­tion meant lit­tle to him now.” Charles main­tains a se­ri­ous, thought­ful tone through­out Be­neath the Stars, even dur­ing Sid and Ed­die’s play­ful courtship. The sex scenes siz­zle, and the bad puns are eye-rollingly sat­is­fy­ing, but un­der it all is a re­flec­tive cur­rent that makes ev­ery ac­tion seem sig­nif­i­cant.

Although things be­tween Ed­die and Sid get off to an awk­ward start, and more than one flash­back di­verts from the pri­mary story arc, they are an ir­re­sistible cou­ple. Adrian, Ed­die’s bi­o­log­i­cal son, adds a nice sub­plot that of­fers plenty of growth op­por­tu­ni­ties as well as a touch of ro­man­tic re­al­ism. Mak­ing love all night, sure—but for­get sleep­ing in on a school morn­ing. Charles shows that ro­mance can be re­spon­si­ble, too. This con­tem­po­rary ro­mance has di­men­sion and depth.

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