Hi there! Today I’m reviewing Joe Cosentino’s newly released contemporary M/M romance novella AN INFATUATION. This was a quick, humorous read, but don’t let that give you the impression that it’s fluff. Within the pages you have homophobia, abuse, love, finding one’s true self, losing a first love, naked temptation and steadfastness.
About the book:
With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet.
Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart.
When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This review may contain some *mild* spoilers.
4.5 stars for this non-traditional M/M romance.
Lots of people rail about 3rd person over 1st person narratives. Well this is 1st person, which is my personal preference. But not only is the POV close, it’s actually interactive with the reader, obliterating the fourth wall. This has worked for me with other books, and it worked for me here. It is told entirely as if the MC, Harold, if recounting his tale of enchantment and woe for my personal benefit. I dug that.
And here’s why:
*Insert wavy lines/turn on the Way-Back machine*
*travel 20 years into the past*
Harold High is the typical teenage nerd, who is also gay. His sexuality isn’t readily apparent, but his status is low enough that he’s a bully target. He is assigned as a chemistry lab partner for Mario Ginneti, Adonis and football captain. Harold does so well helping Mario with chemistry, that Mario asks Harold to tutor him in…everything, including completing his college applications. Harold is more than happy to do so, as he’s fully-gaga over Mario.
The more time Harold and Mario spend, the closer they become. Mario allows Harold to see the vulnerable side of him. Mario is beautiful, but hates himself. His alcoholic father is abusive and his mother is neglectful. His nonna is the only one who show him any care or love. Except Harold.
There are some explorations, always ending with Mario mortified and Harold emotionally shattered. Mario knows how Harold feels, and he seems to reciprocate, but he can’t let himself be G. A. Y. He dates the cheerleading captain and gets into Yale and he and Harold are no longer in contact by graduation.
*Return to Way Back*
*the 10 year high school reunion looms*
Harold is excited to see Mario. Harold’s life has gone picture book well. He has a rewarding career and a loving husband. He’s been candid about his childhood feelings for Mario and Stuart, his husband, is anxious to meet The Legend. Mario’s life hasn’t gone the happy route. He is deeply unsatisfied and still desires Harold.
There is a point where Mario and Harold are alone and things could go bad (or good dependent upon one feels about infidelity) and I think the resolution of this infatuation is honest and reasonable.
This book is less a romance, and more a come-to-Jesus. It is about first love and faith and fidelity and finding one’s real self. It is mostly told in flashback with brisk pacing so there isn’t a ton of backstory bogging the pace. Harold is a lovely narrator, who is (at times) a bit teen-spastic. He’s also very glib, and the humor comes off less snarky because he’s so genuinely nice.
I loved Stuart, he’s super brave and generous. In high school, Mario is timid about his questioning sexuality, but kind to Harold. He protects him and befriends him. As an adult, his greatest regret is not openly loving Harold. I did feel sorry for his choices, and didn’t hate him for continuing to make poor ones. Understanding the deeper connections between these men–Harold and Mario–yielded a tender story. Do not expect any heat. This story is all about feels.
The end was unexpected, a bit sad, yet emotionally satisfying.
About the Author:
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!