Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: The Coil by L.A Gilbert

Reviewed Fehu
The Coil by L.A Gilbert
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 286pgs
3.75 Pants Off

Sandwich-maker Mattie Green has one goal: escape San Diego, move to New York, and attend art school. But to make this a reality, he needs to get his GED—not easy, since he can’t read or write. Until he can, he’s stuck working at the diner and selling himself on the side.

Mattie’s legitimate job isn’t without perks. Every day the quiet, sophisticated Simon Castle comes by to work on his latest book. Mattie wants more than to pour Simon’s coffee and make his lunch, but he’s sure Simon is out of his league—until suddenly he’s not.

Simon Castle's life is complicated, built around his career and a son who requires a lot of time and attention. It’s not a life well-suited to the inclusion of even a part-time prostitute, so he resolves to keep his relationship with Mattie casual. However, the longer he knows Mattie, the deeper his feelings become. The idea of him with another man tortures Simon, but he can't ask Mattie to be his alone and jeopardize Mattie's hopes for New York—no matter how much he wants Mattie to stay.


The story was a balance act, I expected the deep and angsty but it always balanced just short before it could become a tearjerker read, so there I was racing to where the book began to know how it would end.

Mattie and Simon first meet in the cafe where Mattie works, and where Simon comes to write but they truly meet at an art gallery party, it's where the sparks fly and some secrets are uncovered. While I loved Mattie, I'm ambivalent about Simon and disappointed that after the promising beginning, we are thrown back in time. The whole flashback issue might also be the reason why I didn't really get into this story, I wanted to read about the present setting.

First of all, I like the stories by this author and this one is also quite nice, not in the style that I was expecting from her previous books, but still good. My niggle with this book was that the prologue is in the present time, so we know there are three years of separation between the lovers, we know who the lovers are and actually I would have loved to read the whole story told in the present time and not in a flashback, I dislike those, a lot!

So it was frustrating to go back and see the beginning when all I wanted to know was, what happens now when Mattie and Simon meet. Mattie loves art and dreams to go to New York to study in an art school. To do that he has to get his GED first and to make a living to get there, which is not an easy task, with a low paying job. He wants a stable relationship, but again his second job - being a rentboy on the side - doesn't make it easy. Simon is a successful writer working on his next book and caring for his autistic son. They are two very different characters but seem to be just what the other needed, if they hadn't met at the wrong time. Simon's first priority is his son and I loved how the author really did some research on autism and it was made one of the central theme and was not just mentioned in passing but actually worked into the storyline. I thought that was the most interesting part of the book. Simon is a fantastic father and it was a pleasure to see him interact with his son. Some good questions were raised, like how people perceive difference, while Simon's son is young people are more tolerant of his behavior but what would happen when he grows older? I thought that was a very interesting point the author made.

This is one of the books, where I ended up liking some of the supporting characters as much, if not more than the protagonists. Ty for example is Mattie's best friend and had a lot of potential, I would have love to read more about him (and I liked how protective he was about Matt). While I liked Simon as a father, as a lover he was inconsiderate and honestly I do understand not wanting to expose your child to every date but I thought he was taking his sweet time and holding Mattie at an arms range for a long time. I wish Matt would have told him of sooner and the whole separation issue was a totally stupid idea, if you ask me.

It was frustrating to read the story and wait for the separation, especially because Simon seemed a bit immature and Mattie a lot insecure, which left issues they had to fester. Sometime the story felt drawn out, mostly because I started reading more or less knowing how it was going to end in the flashback and just wanted to get to the good point, which ended up being the last part of the story.

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