Book Reviews

Next Time I Fall by Jeff Erno at Ai Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 24-October-2017

Book Blurb

Eric Daniels has a habit of falling for unattainable men. For the past two years he's pined for a man younger than him who has no interest in a relationship and just wants to use him. When Eric suddenly finds himself alone and again jilted, he swears it will never happen again. Then he meets Steve. Steve Warren has recently started his job as associate pastor of the local Baptist church. While canvassing the neighborhood to promote the church's vacation Bible school program, he encounters a man who sticks in his memory. Though he doesn't catch his name, he recalls the man's black Labrador retriever, Drake.

Steve has a dog of his own, a boxer named Felix. And when they bump into each other again, not only do the dogs hit it off, but so do the humans. A friendship begins. Steve suddenly finds himself facing the harshest reality he's ever endured. He's been aware of his attraction to men for a long time, but his religion teaches homosexuality is an abomination. How can he reconcile his feelings for Eric with his faith? If he comes out as gay, what will it do to his career, his family, and his church? But he can't go on forever using his religion as a shield to hide behind. Living a lie is bearing false witness, so he must find a way to be true to his faith while following his heart. Is there any way to move forward without hurting a lot of people he loves?

Book Review

“The next time I fall in love I'll know better what to do. The next time I fall in love... it will be with you.” ~ 'Next Time I Fall in Love' (Peter Cetera)

Eric Daniels, of 'Next Time I Fall I=in Love' by Jeff Erno, is a nice guy whose decisions in love affairs are lacking. He's been in love with Wes for over two years, but the feelings are not returned. When Wes leaves Eric, to move across the country to someone he met on the internet, Eric is crushed. He swears to guard his heart from now on because he doesn't think he can endure another heartache. He decides that he's content to live alone with his dog for company. Eric isn't looking for love, but “Love” has its own ideas. The last thing Eric is expecting is for a young, handsome pastor named Steve to show up at his door.

Pastor Steve is the associate minister of a local Fundamentalist Baptist church. He and the senior pastor are visiting people in hopes to lure them into their fold. Compared to the stuffy and judgmental elder pastor, Steve is a ray of sunshine with a bright welcoming smile and open heart. Eric likes him immediately, although for a nonbeliever, it throws him to be attracted to a man of God. The elder minister seems to sense that Eric is gay and can hardly wait to get away, but Steve likes Eric and doesn't see the danger.

Later, while walking his own dog, Steve runs into Eric who is taking his dog for a walk as well. Eric and Steve's dogs hit it off. They begin to chat about their lives, Eric decides to ask Steve to go to dinner with him, not a date, just as friends. They continue to spend time together as just friends for a short time, both knowing that they want more. It's not complicated for Eric who is an out and proud gay man, but far from easy for Steve. Steve has a huge conundrum. He's wanted to be a minister all of his life and has dutifully, perhaps blindly, been following the teachings of the church and the Bible. Steve knows that he has always been attracted to men, but his feelings for Eric, who is nothing but supportive in the situation, are both terrifying and freeing at the same time. Steve is honest and truthful to a fault so the situation causes a great deal of cognitive dissonance. If he is true to himself and comes out he will almost certainly lose everything he's worked so hard to achieve. On the other hand, Steve can't live with the deceit; he can't pretend to be someone he's not.

This story is about being true to yourself, facing whatever barriers are holding you from being all you can be. It's even more complicated in Steve's case because he's got so much more to forfeit than most. It's not just a job he will be losing; his entire faith is being challenged. Steve has to decide how to keep God, whom he dearly loves, yet question what he's learned. Steve has to pick them apart, analyze them, and come to his own conclusions, not ones that have been forced down his throat. The story has endearing and not so endearing characters. If I didn't know from personal experience they exist, some of their attitudes and beliefs would seem unrealistic. Unfortunately, such ignorance and meanness still exist, even among “Godly people”. Thanks, Jeff, for reminding me that everyone deserves a life free from guilt and shame.





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 162 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 18-September-2017
Price $3.89 ebook
Buy Link