The premier of his film should be the highlight of his career, but instead Greg finds himself desperately clinging to the threads of his relationship. Constantly in-fear of his sexuality being discovered, he has treated his lover Aaron as a dirty little secret for years. Comfortable with his sexuality, Aaron is tired of not being able to live normally because of his partners hang-ups. When Aaron declares that the premier will be their last event as a couple, Greg can only hope that the film will demonstrate something that he has never been able to say aloud; how much he really loves him. How will Aaron respond to the public screening of their story, especially when he knows nothing about it? Will Greg have made a massive mistake by simply not opening his mouth?
This is one of the most awkward reviews I’ve had to write in a while because the bulk of the story isn’t played out by the two characters in the above paragraph, but by the romanticised version of them that appear in the film. You see, the film is their story, except it isn’t, because it’s a one sided version of events that has been vamped up to make it sellable to the public. Unable to tell Aaron how much he loves him, Greg writes him a film to show him how much of an impact he has had on his life. However, Greg can’t show everything that happened to them over the course of the years (for a start, he may get sued!) so he changes bits of their tale, adds a few embellishments to make it more appetising to Hollywood. This is a tale within a tale. I wanted a HEA for out two leads but it wasn’t because of them, but because I’d fallen in love with their counterparts in the film.
Aaron and Greg meet whilst they are at school. During the film, this is a military school whereas in real life they were at a public school. Changes in detail like this did make me a little dizzy at points, but they were minor enough for me to be OK with them. They have a really hard time at school and I have to admit that I warmed to Greg long before Aaron (this may have something to do with Aaron beating the crap out of Greg…). What is clear from the offset is that both of them are attracted to each other, yet neither wants to deal with it in the setting they are in. They know they won’t be accepted by their peers and, when it all comes out, turns out they were right. Greg takes far more of the punishment than Aaron and routinely suffers physical and verbal abuse. Some of the violence was hard to read and my heart broke a little for the amount he had to endure. I could see why he struggled to come out later in life; Aaron had it easy compared to him, all he would have associated being gay with was persecution.
The story continues with their tale after college. It tells how they tell their parents, how both sets struggle but, whilst Aarons just think he will grow out of it, Greg’s seriously go off the deep end. We see how, over the years, Aaron rescues Greg time and time again from his own self destructive tendencies (after the initial 1/5 of the book, where he literally did jack all to help) I think that it has to be mentioned here that this is Greg’s version of events, his version of Aaron. During the film, the real Aaron turns round to Greg to ask if that is how he actually sees him which makes me wonder if this is a fairly romanticised view. Greg made the film for Aaron, to show Aaron how much he loved him. It was clear to me that Aaron was not going to look bad in this film because it was a “Grand Gesture”. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed my sex life being publicised on celluloid but I thought the act itself was sweet. It did, however make it a little confusing for me as a reader. In a couple of paragraphs, at the end, Ms Armstrong highlighted all the fiction in the film and this is where I got a little confused. It was all too much for me to take in in such a short space of time!
Overall, this is a lovely book about coming of age and struggles with sexuality. The characters were fabulously written and the author has a lovely way of writing. My only issue was that the characters I loved were products of Greg’s imagination. If I had more time to know the real couple, I think this would have been a 5 star review! The chemistry between the two characters was combustible which makes the sex scenes very hot. I enjoyed reading this story and would love to read more from these two men.
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