Book Reviews

Wrestling Demons (Brandt and Donnelly Capers 2) by Xavier Mayne at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Alex on 30-June-2014

Book Blurb

Jonah Fischer’s high school wrestling career has been stellar, but now he’s the unwilling star of a series of videos that have hit the web. The whole world may have seen the evidence that his best friend turns him on. Jonah’s conservative family wants him cured, and his conventional town and school want him normal. The only person who still wants him just the way he is is Casey Melville, the same best friend who turned him on for all the world to see. Meanwhile, Casey begins to wonder if there’s more to his feelings for Jonah than he thought.

Officers Brandt and Donnelly—lovers as well as partners on the job—have been assigned to find the culprit who posted the video. While investigating the case, they also help Jonah and Casey find their way through their feelings, and steer them toward refuge when Jonah’s family turns against him. But the mystery remains: who wants to hurt Jonah badly enough to post those videos, and why? Thank goodness Jonah and Casey have found friends—they’re going to need all the help and support they can get.

Book Review

With this second book of the Brandt and Donnelly Capers, author Xavier Mayne’s unusual but captivating style of camp, raunch, and sweetness beautifully captures this “outed before ready” tale of two best friends who are, as the title suggests - wrestling demons.

High school senior Jonah Fischer is focused on his future and is hoping to be scouted by a top college for his wrestling skills when his life takes an unpredictable turn. Someone has made a series of videos of the wrestling team’s locker room that reveal a secret that he has yet to come to terms with. He’s got it bad for his longtime best friend, Casey Melville, and in one video in particular - it, um, literally shows. Forced to confront his feelings, Jonah puzzles over whether he is gay. He doesn’t feel gay. Other men don’t excite him, nor is he prone to girlish displays of emotion. He simply likes his best friend - a lot.

In a small-minded ‘wrestling is everything’ town like Woodley being gay is simply not acceptable. To have a gay champion wrestler is the town’s worst nightmare and the videos could definitely affect Jonah’s chances at an athletic scholarship. When the videos start turning up on the web, the State Police are called in. Brandt and Donnelly show up to investigate what turns into a truly baffling case. No one can figure out who made the videos and while they certainly “out” Jonah, they are not really malicious. Jonah isn’t the only one affected by the videos. Casey Melville is initially shocked when he grasps the connotations of their content. When Jonah can barely face him and then attempts suicide, Casey vows to stand by his friend’s side no matter what.

What follows is part Hardy Boys mystery with the camp of Eating Out, and part tenderhearted love story as Jonah and Casey test the boundaries of their friendship and navigate the unknown waters of sexual orientation. With Jonah’s parents attempting to steal him away to be “cured”, and the entire town of Woodley weighing in on Jonah’s morality, the boys get some much need alone time and helpful guidance from Brandt and Donnelly.

I enjoyed this story and I have to say it was because of the developing relationship between Jonah and Casey. I can’t say it was the most realistic “coming out together” story I’ve ever read, but it certainly was the sweetest. The portrayal of uncertainty, naiveté, lost innocence, and just plain bewilderment was very genuine and a real tearjerker in the best possible way. Honestly, I can’t think about the love story between these two exceptional characters without hearing the theme from, well, Romeo and Juliet (A Time for Us). Would that all best friends were so staunch in their support as Casey was for Jonah. Supporting characters Nestor and Bryce from the previous novel play up the camp in their role as “consultants” to help solve the twisted case and it was nice to see Brandt and Donnelly reaching the comfortable stage of their new relationship. I applaud the dream-like assembly scene where the wrestling team shows the parents and town of Woodley exactly what the word ‘team’ means. Just remembering that passage has me realizing I forgot to mention something else that Xavier Mayne’s writing imparts - at the end of a marvelous, stuff-of-dreams journey filled with tenderness, comedy, sweetness, and heat?I was left with ‘hope.’

Thank you, Xavier Mayne, for sharing this “long night’s journey into day” tale of love is love.

“Sparkling, Spunky & Sweet!”





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

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 276 pages/89367 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 09-April-2014
Price $6.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback, $16.99 bundle
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