Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a M/M contemporary New Adult romance from Zane Riley. WHEN IT’S TIME is the third book in the Go Your Own Way series. Lennox is an outspoken and harassed, out-gay, orphaned, black young man who’s a musical virtuoso. In the past year he’s fallen hard for a country white boy, Will, whose family took Lennox in and loved him as best they could. This is their third story including GO YOUR OWN WAY and WITH OR WITHOUT YOU.
Despite the fulfillment of his childhood dream, Will is suffocating in too-loud, too-dirty, too-busy New York City. Lennox, who has relied on Will for guidance, is thriving in Boston without him. As Lennox embraces his promising new life and rediscovers old family, Will searches for a future of his own that won’t tear them apart.
Lennox McAvoy and Will Osbourne are boyfriends who’ve weathered some storms. Will’s family took Lennox in after his grandfather dumped him at a roach motel in Will’s small hometown in rural Virginia. At that time, Lennox had be recently released from juvie, where he went after he injured his own attackers–white homophobes with powerful daddies–in the midst of perpetrating a hate crime on himself.
Lennox has grown a lot in the past years, and especially flourished living with the Osbournes. Will helped Lennox apply for colleges, an it was his encouragement that got Lennox a prime spot at Berklee College in Boston–where he’s got a full music scholarship. Will follows his own path to NYU, to study journalism. It was his second choice after Sarah Lawrence, but he’s sure it’ll turn out great.
Lennox is a bundle of nerves, but he’s a survivor and though there’s an immediate housing mix-up, Lennox rolls with the situation, gaining a great new roomie plus a cast of new compassionate friends. He’s fired up and energized with all the creativity happening around him. If only life in New York was going half as well for Will. His roommate is a turd, and the kids he met at orientation are vapid and shallow, not to mention Will’s late everywhere he goes and gets turned around easily in the subway system. His frustration is only compounded when he learns he’d been accepted to Sarah Lawrence, but a paperwork snafu kept him from enrolling there.
Will and Lennox are determined to make their long-distance relationship work, but as the weeks and months stretch, it becomes harder and harder to keep connected, despite trips between cities. Lennox gets frustrated with the good advice he gets–that he’s not responsible for Will’s happiness. Meanwhile, Will’s anxiety and depression grow until he’s not able to manage behaving civilly and treats loving Lennox poorly. It’s a big change for their relationship dynamic, and each of these young men needs to find a way to care for himself, while still caring about the other. It’s a tricky balance, especially for two so young–they’re both about 19–but they figure it out eventually. Not without some fireworks, however, and some heart-to-hearts that mend those battered fences.
This felt very genuine, and bittersweet, as I read it. I wanted to shake Will sometimes for hiding his true feelings until they couldn’t be shoved down any longer. Yet, I knew that was an authentic response to his growing despondency. Lennox is a rock, and a great guy. I was so glad to see him grow and flourish completely on his own merit. Both of these guys are great, even though they aren’t at their best of times–particularly Will. I was so happy when Will finally found a way to manage his life, and it was so sweet that Lennox supported his new path even though it meant even larger separations. This was a big compromise, but it was clear both men were making it, which was what needed to happen. Compared with the previous books, WHEN IT’S TIME has fewer sexytimes, but the intimacy and compassion are a constant on the page. It’s great read for people who have relationships in flux, or who just want to remember those awkward new beginnings of college life. For me the nostalgia meter was on eleven.
Meet the author:
Zane Riley is a transgender writer who wrote his first work of fan fiction in the fourth grade. He is a recent transplant to Vancouver, Washington where he spends his time watching long distance baseball games, hiking, and exploring the musical depths of the internet. His first novel, Go Your Own Way came out in 2015 from Interlude Press.