The Night We Met - Rob Byrnes
Drew is a frustrated, gay, thirty-something budding author who works for a publishing house. Dumped by the love of his live, he’s persuaded by his flamboyant boss and friend, David, to attend the opening of the hottest new nightclub in town, Benedick (note the spelling). Benedick is a gay dance club, and much against his will, because it’s Halloween, Drew agrees to go in drag. Drew is so successful in drag as the gorgeous Belle Becall that he’s not allowed into the all-male opening night. (That is until he proves he’s a man quite easily!) It all sounds highly improbable, but that’s the true genius of this book, it takes the improbable and makes it not only believable, but has you saying “yes! My life’s like this sometimes!” (and if you’re a fan of QaF US edition, you’ll know that it’s not impossible for even the most unlikely of men to look fabulous as women. Did you see the Gay Pride March episode? Michael WAS a woman!)
Inevitably, Drew bumps into the straight owner of the club, twenty-seven year old Frank. Frank fancies Drew—or rather, critically, Frank fancies Belle, because Frank thinks Belle is real.
The slow realisation of Belle’s real identity, and the subsequent relationship between Frank and Drew is really touching… although there’s not as much actual touching as they’d like because there’s one rather major complication to their blossoming love: Frank is the son of a major Mafia Godfather.
The plot spirals along like a whirlwind, with Frank and Drew and their very poignant love caught in the maelstrom.
All told in the first person narrative by Drew, it’s a romp of a read. I could not put it down and could not guess how it was going to end either. I highly recommend.
You know those mindless movies that work so well on a Saturday night with a couple of bottles of red? Well this book is like that, except what entertains onscreen, if the eye candy is right, quickly becomes tedious spread over 300 pages. Oh boy, the novel stretched my patience. It’s not as though there’s hot sex either to make up for its failings. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Jenny and I read many good books, so the mediocre really stand out, and this doesn’t pretend to be anything other than wacky farce. But I didn’t like it.
The main character, Andrew Westlake, is sub-editor for a NYC publishing house, but really he’s a novelist, with two books under his belt (an autobiographical coming of age tale set in Allentown, Pa. And another about a mall). Andrew is a hopeless romantic, looking for love. Unfortunately, he’s also self-absorbed and annoyingly whiney. He just got on my nerves. The plot, one of those crazy, madcap affairs, dictates that he’s incredibly, irritatingly stupid. I think the author was aiming for charmingly naïve. I wanted to give him a good shake (or a swift kick).
One Halloween night Andrew gets dragged up to go to the opening of a new gay bar. He meets the owner, Frankie DiBenedetto, who falls for him instantly, apparently under the impression Andrew really is a woman- the joke is he looks exactly like Demi Moore. What we get then is a romantic comedy adventure. One that totally fails to convince it’s anything other than the ludicrous plot of a novel. The romance would be fine. I love the genre. Except for it to work the reader has to care about the characters. For that to happen the writer has to breathe life into his creations. Not here.
Frankie is a hunk. He’s straight, engaged to be married. And the twist is he’s the son of a top Mafia boss. Frankie’s idea of foreplay is to have a minion take care of the poor schmuck accountant who’d recently dumped Andrew. Everyone tells Andrew to stay away from Frankie. He’s Mobbed-up and Trouble. And they’re right, because soon Andrew’s life is turned totally upside down, and he’s being pursued by both police and Mafia. But he’s in love. And determined to show Frankie that really he’s gay. The only problem is Frankie hardly figures much in the story so we just don’t get a feeling for this deep love they’re supposed to share, a mutual attraction that surmounts many obstacles in the path to true happiness. I felt Andrew would be better off with the cute and smart FBI agent he meets while on a book tour in California, with whom he has so much more in common.
Frankie’s slow awakening as a gay man is handled quite well, and I did enjoy those scenes in the book. But Frankie isn’t real. He’s a type out of a bad gangster movie. The whole thing was uninvolving and I just couldn’t summon up the will to care whether love or common sense wins the day.
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation. ISBN: 0758201931
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