Title: In Me an Invincible Summer
Author: Ryan Loveless
Length: Novel (336 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 30th, 2014)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5 Hearts
Blurb: To an outsider’s view, world-famous action star Joe Nestra lives the Hollywood dream—parties, women, and a high-profile divorce. In reality, Joe’s agent directs his public life. Those women he’s supposedly intimate with? Prearranged dates ending at the red carpet. With his assistant and best friend Derek Simmons’ help, Joe has lived safely in the closet since his divorce, choosing to let off steam with discreet male escorts rather than risk an actual boyfriend. At forty-four, he has no plans to change. Then, taking a role in a film without flashy explosions upends that.
When Joe signs on to play an early 1990s-era AIDS-stricken gay man, his internalized homophobia threatens the production. His out costar Hunter Starling won’t put up with Joe’s behavior. As the animosity between Joe and Hunter grows, saving the film means Joe must face his deepest fear. Challenges pile up from all directions, from his father disowning him to the entertainment industry’s backstabbing reaction.
Amid the backlash, Joe ventures into his first gay romantic relationship, tries to help others worse off, and slowly learns how to live his life instead of just acting it.
Product Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5670
Review: I liked this story, sometimes less, sometimes more, but I didn’t love it. It does have an incredible cover and maybe my expectations were raised because of it. Or maybe I expected more because I’ve loved other book written by Ms. Loveless, but regardless, my expectations were not met. This was a story of self-discovery and acceptance, it was very well written and complex, and dare I say it was sometimes intense. But still, I just couldn’t really get into it.
This is the story of Joe Nestra, a 44-year-old actor, who is still closeted and has developed some internalized homophobic tendencies. Joe usually plays an action figure role in a series of movies, but while injured in a stunt, he has to lay low for a while. His agent offers him the chance to play one of the lead males in a gay movie, an AIDS stricken man, and Joe accepts it.
But Joe’s homophobia threatens the whole production and his relationship with his costar, Hunter, is tense and very unfriendly. Hunter will not put up with Joe’s bullshit and they have a few altercations. Hunter’s husband, Chris, tries to calm the waters by inviting Joe and his personal assistant Derek to dinner at their house. And this is the beginning of how Joe’s carefully constructed life starts to fall apart.Once he witnesses the great and loving relationship Chris and Hunter have, he starts to yearn for the same thing.
Joe has been divorced for over a decade, and he’s never been in any relationships and hasn’t been part of the dating scene. His hookups were all arranged by Derek, young men who were carefully screened and made to sign a confidentiality agreement. Now Joe doesn’t want that anymore, and while he doesn’t consider coming out, he wants to give dating a try.
I really didn’t like Joe at the beginning and while I warmed up to him towards the end, he never became a character that I liked. He was a jerk and an asshole. After getting drunk one night he called his father to confess his homosexuality and, as expected, he got disowned. I never understood why his need for parental acceptance was that great, he was a grown man in his mid forties, not a teenager in need of support.
Besides, he never really had a great relationship with his father. Joe got beat a lot when he was a child and his father was never shy to let his fists fly when it came to him. So why the fuck is his acceptance so damn important? And the scene where Joe’s father came to the hotel where Joe was staying and pulled a gun on him was the most difficult for me to read and accept. Not because it’s unreal, because I believe stuff like that can happen. It’s that Joe tried distracting his father by offering to let him beat his ass with a belt. Umm, yes we are talking about a 44-year-old man allowing his father to beat his ass. But I gave up trying to understand that and moved on.
I can’t say who Joe’s love interest is, because I believe the author was vague about it when writing the blurb for a reason. That person is someone from Joe’s past, the one and only one nightstand he had while still married to his wife. It was quite easy to figure out who that was and the whole time I was thinking to myself Joe you’re such a clueless idiot.
That being said, I didn’t feel the chemistry between them, and that’s not because there was virtually no sex on page in this book. Other than a couple of blowjobs, this book is very PG 13, so if you’re looking for a hot sexy story, this is not it. But I don’t need sex to feel there is chemistry between two characters and I’m sad to say I felt no chemistry AT ALL.
Their love story isn’t exactly believable to me from Joe’s PO, because you can’t just decide you love someone out of the blue like Joe did. His love interest wasn’t referred to at all in terms of someone Joe had feeling for or thought of as a partner; it was pretty much out of the blue. But still, I appreciated the support and closeness between them; it came out strong that they had each other’s backs.
Once Joe decided to come out everything changed, and not for the better. He got dropped from every contract he signed, his latest movie tanked at the box office and the scripts stopped coming in. Nobody wanted a gay actor to play in their movies. I don’t know a lot about Hollywood or the movie industry, and the author seemed to be very knowledgeable about it all, but it’s hard for me to believe and accept that everyone would shun Joe like that because of his sexuality.
A great actor is still a great actor at the end of the day, but most of all, we’re talking about the year 2011 not 1990, in LA not in bumfuck nowhere, Bible belt county. I think the movie industry has seen and accepted all: druggies and alcoholics, depressed people who are struggling to survive, and so many weirdoes, my mind is spinning trying to think of it all. Not to mention how many out and proud celebrities we see and hear about every day. And I’m supposed to believe that being gay will get so many drastic, negative, life changing reactions from all the producers? Not likely, and that’s what bothered me most.
There are things that I liked a lot about this book; mostly the supporting characters. I loved Hunter and Chris most of all. Hunter is a very real person; he’s honest to the point of being rude and won’t take shit from anyone, least of all a homophobic co-star like Joe. But once Joe got to really get to know him, Hunter proved to be a supporting friend who was loyal, helpful, and never hesitated to offer some important piece of advice.
His relationship with Chris I absolutely adored, and the fact that he was a sarcastic shit made him even more likeable. “Thank you,” Joe said. He raised his spoon in a salute. Hunter gave his own salute in return. It used only one finger.
Chris was a doll and by far my favorite of them all. His love and support for his husband is plain to see and the fact that he wants everyone to get along endeared him to me greatly. He is funny and childish sometimes and gives this story the breath of fresh air it needs. He’s awesome at giving advice, great at being a friend and the most well rounded human being in this book. The fact that he’s made me laugh at his antics made me love him all the more…
After one more night with Hunter and Chris, they moved into another hotel to begin a proper honeymoon—a decision not at all (completely) influenced by Chris’s propensity for shouting “Are you having sex now?” at their bedroom door and thundering away giggling like a clumsy hyena. *giggling*
And Derek…well he was an amazing friend as well. He was very honest with Joe when it came to his opinion of who Joe is “Aside from being an emotionally immature moron on occasion, you generally come through,” never hesitated to tell him what he needed to hear regardless if that was the same with what Joe wanted to hear. And he never allowed anyone to take advantage of Joe or insult him in any way.
“You think you’re not, but I’ve seen it happen. The freedom of being out is going to get to you, make you want to explore yourself further, and suddenly you’re prancing around in lace panties.”
Joe opened his mouth.
“Number one,” Derek said. Joe closed his mouth. This is going to be good. “Try to be a little less offensive. Number two, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a man who enjoys wearing lace, and it doesn’t emasculate him in any way.”
Overall, this was a good book, and I love that generally the characters were real and believable. They’re not perfect and they make mistakes, but they’re complex and well written. Aside from the few points that were not very believable to me, this was a great story of an adult man who faces a challenging journey of self-discovery. If you like coming-out books than this is a recommended read.