Book Reviews

Friends To Lovers by Sedonia Guillone and D.H. Starr at Ai Press

Genre Gay / Mixed Time Periods/Genres / Romance
Reviewed by Alex on 02-February-2013

Book Blurb

A timeless theme explored in three sizzling M/M stories by two of today’s favorite authors, D.H. Starr and Sedonia Guillone.

It Was Always You (D.H. Starr) A drama club geek and a consummate jock—hardly a formula for friendship. Yet Caleb Richards and Kevin O’Brien have been best friends since high school. Kevin’s free spirited ways brought Caleb out of his shell, and Caleb introduced Kevin to a world outside of sports. When Kevin came out to Caleb as gay, all the things he’d thought were wrong about himself suddenly seemed right…except for his inability to say the four words that could open the door to his ultimate happiness: I love you, Kevin. Years later, when Caleb finally faced his fear and plans to finally tell Kevin, “It was always you,” he’s a bit too late: Kevin tells him he’s found someone. How will a friendship ever become more now?

Blind Love (Sedonia Guillone) After a harrowing seventeen-year separation, Hirata Morimasa leaves his home and secure future to search for his childhood friend, Sho. Blinded by illness when they were children, Sho was sent away, apprenticed to a blind masseur (an anma) to learn his trade, and then disappeared. Desperate to find the other half of his heart and soul, Hirata willingly sacrifices the prestige and security of his father’s dojo to find him. When an anma who looks exactly like Sho crosses his path in front of a gambling parlor one day, the man flatly denies he is Sho. Hirata knows better and is determined to get the truth…and to get back the friend he’d lost. However, even though Hirata knows in his bones this man is his soul mate, Sho has…changed…in ways Hirata could not have prepared for in his wildest imaginings, changes that could continue to keep them apart…forever.

Skating For Gold (D.H. Starr) Joined by sorrow, Olympic figure skating hopeful Devon Hayes met champion Lance Dawes at a time when both their worlds were falling apart. Devon lost his mother to cancer and Lance’s family rejected him for being gay. When Devon leaves for college, a door seems to close on any hopes for something more than friendship…until Fate provides a second chance. Devon returns home to train with Lance. As the Olympic trials draw closer and their love grows stronger, the tug-of-war between desire and ambition threatens to ruin everything. If they can't discover what matters most, they might end up with nothing.

Book Review

The three distinct stories in this sweet trilogy share one thing in common; three pairs of friends navigate the stormy waters of turning longtime friendship into deeper, loving relationships. I believe the charm of this book comes from the fact that the stories are so very different.

In the initial contemporary tale, It Was Always You, we meet Kevin and Caleb, friends who get together for dinner every Wednesday, to catch up on the happenings in each other’s lives. As often happens with friends, one of the men, Kevin, dominates the conversation, in this case with tales of his various sexual conquests, while the other, Caleb, is the quieter of the pair, content to  listen, laugh, and share vicariously the stories which are told.

This is a clever telling of a classic tale. Caleb is in love with his friend, these dinners are his opportunity to look his fill of the man he loves. Kevin goes through men like flies, searching for “the One” and has no shortage of funny tales about the search. But at this particular dinner, Kevin announces he thinks he has found "the One" and he wants his best friend to meet and approve him. This captivating “peacock and mouse” tale has a nice little twist on the way to its happily ever after; cute.

Blind Love, the second story in the trilogy, takes us to Edo period Japan, where we meet two childhood friends, one the son of a samurai, the other a blind orphan taken in by the samurai family. This is a lyrical tale of their parting and the journey, both physical and metaphysical, to find each other again. Beautifully detailed, you can almost feel the cherry blossom petals floating throughout the story as it unfolds.

Sho and Hirata are lovely characters, each with weaknesses and strengths that prolong their reunion as they struggle to reconnect in friendship, only to find it has grown into something more. I very much enjoyed this delicate, melodic story. Very nicely paced, poetic, and quite picturesque.

The final story, Skating for Gold, features Lance and Devon, an ice skating coach and his prodigy, who happen to be only five years apart in age. When Devon was seventeen, those five years seemed uncrossable, but after his mother’s death, he returns from college a twenty-year-old man with only two things on his agenda, making the Olympic team and making his coach his lover.

Former skater, Lance, only became a coach because an injury left him unable to compete. He was aware that young Devon had a hero worship crush on him, but that’s all it was, right?  When Devon arrives home, suddenly things have changed, but Lance is determined to remain professional and coach Devon onto that Olympic team…feelings be damned.

In addition to the friends to lovers angle, this contemporary tale also takes Devon on a journey of self-discovery. Struggling to master the technical jumps he’ll need to make the team, he must face his demons, learn his strengths, and apply them if he is to realize his potential. A powerful conclusion to a diverse, nicely pulled together collection.

Thank you, D.H. Starr and Sedonia Guillone, nicely done.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Ai Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Anthology/ 3 novellas, 76367 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 29-October-2012
Buy Link