5 Pants Off
The only interesting thing about Why Yell, Iowa, is its name, so when Mark Johansen left for college, he didn’t plan to return. But his family has other ideas: his father manipulates him into a job he hates and his mother uses him as a patch for coping with his siblings’ problems.
When Mark runs into Jamie Novotny after a particularly bad day at work, he’s surprised to find the quirky kid he knew in high school has grown into a driven ecowarrior. But the shock of finding Jamie working in the local co-op pales compared to his astonishment when Jamie confesses he’s had a crush on Mark for years.
Their first night together leaves Mark happy but disoriented, but their second leaves him bereft. He's unable to find Jamie because he refuses to use cell phones, fearing their environmental impact. Mark’s usual stoicism splinters, and he can’t stop himself from tracking Jamie down. When their lives collide, Mark makes room in his heart and his house for Jamie—but what Jamie really wants is for Mark to man up.
Ever read a book you wish you could go back and unread so you can experience it for the first time again? That is how I feel about The Boys and the Bees; I loved every word of it and would not change a thing. I found it perfect and the message resonated strongly with me.
Mark Johansen lives in a small town called Why Yell, Iowa which is like pretty much a description of Mark's character. He's a gentle giant whom goes through life making the motions and living to help others. He has a job he doesn't love all because his parents told him to take it, he can't seem to make a connection to the opposite sex or even of that of a same sex relationship. He's just there helping with a slew of nieces/nephews and immature siblings. Mark finds himself at local co-op picking up groceries with plans of making himself a fabulous meal when he runs into Jaime. He remembers Jaime from high school as being out and proud, and 100% himself (a quality he always liked) since he's practically uncomfortable in his skin. Accidentally Mark leaves behind his wine, and Jaime brings it too him. Jaime admits he had a crush on Mark in high school, Mark invites him to stay for dinner and the sexy time commences. For the first time sex becomes something for Mark, he feels a connection to Jaime and wants too see more of him.
The book gives the slow progression to Jaime and Mark's relationship, and you get to know their characters in-depth. Both their lives are filled with this richness of family, but also with heartache that comes with it. Jaime must care for his ailing father, which puts a strain in their budding romance, and Mark must deal with the reality that he might lose his family for being gay.
Mark's family is a big part of the story and a strain to read because they are just a draining bunch, but is it’s with them I realized how strong Mark is. It boils down to the fact, that Mark does not need them, they need him. He seems like a pushover because of his selflessness but Mark can walk away and thrive, even with his coming out and facing their harsh dismissal (he was the glue).
Mark and Jaime together are so sweet; it makes my heart super happy. They are both so different but provide a wonderful balance for each other. Jaime the fanatic for the environment, and Mark who’s willing to put up with his crazy ways. I just loved the development of their relationship, the pacing and timing is so perfect that you will just believe in their love.
As I said, I really love this book and it will be going on re-read shelf (I wanna go read it again right now). It's a very romantic read, with some hard-hitting realistic elements (unaccepting parents and the religious crazies that fuel them) and unforgettable characters; Mark is going down as one of my faves. I loved his gentle ways, and he seems one dimensional on the surface, but you find out he’s brave and just loves with all his heart.
Should You Read It? Yes, do not even walk to get it run and get it. I am looking forward to more from this author, because The Boys and the Bees is really something special.
|5 Pants Off|