This is a review of a short novel in the genre of gay romantic fiction. I am not gay, and I doubt that very many straight men are likely to read this book for entertainment, but many women of all sexual persuasions might. The author asked that I review his second book on my review site, so I thought I would give it a shot. I have had many gay people of both sexes scattered throughout my various circles of friends during my life. Why shouldn’t I review a book that gay readers of my blog might enjoy? Stealing Wishes is a delightfully composed, light romance, like an old Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie, if we had only known what they knew when they made those G-rated romps of sexual innuendo.

The storyline is told in the first person by a thirty-two-year-old gay man who has been employed for a number of years at a locally owned, Starbuckian coffee emporium. As with many of us, his life has come to revolve around his job and the people who work at the Latte Da. The owner is a single woman named Sally who has developed over time into Blaine’s best friend. The only other regular employee is a young, punkish, art school student with spiked hair and fairy-tale characters tattooed over much of his body. Blaine has developed a neurotic tendency called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He is obsessed with the number 32, and all multiples and derivatives of that number. According to his own observation, this neurotic behavior appeared after he had decided to cease his exercising of an earlier habit, endless one night stands with young gay men he had met in the gay disco scene. The plot surrounds Blaine’s maturing realizations concerning his behavior patterns and where he would like to take his lifestyle patterns in the future.

Stealing Wishes is a quick read through a pair of relationships that begin with Sally meeting a new boyfriend and then the two of them setting up Blaine with a blind date with a professor at a local university. There are many little psychodramas that spice up the seemingly droll plot, leading to a number of surprising conclusions. There are a few passages that a hetero male may want to read through as quickly as possible, before any clear mental images have time to gel, but Stealing Wishes offers an overall tone closer to Disney than Cinemax. If not for the clearly homosexual context, I could easily visualize Stealing Wishes as a Lifetime movie, full of discussion about the complexity of relationships. The weakest link in the book is not its gay perspective: it’s the lack of correct grammatical editing and proofreading. A little extra time employed in this department would have made Stealing Wishes a strong five-star effort by a relatively new author. Shannon Yarbrough is to be commended for his smooth, believable dialog and the delicate psychological approach to characters who seem, at least on the surface, to be fatally flawed. Mr. Yarbrough is a very promising young author who understands the psychology of people and their convoluted relationships very well.

 (ToSow Publishing / 0-615-21361-8 / 978-0-615-21361-3 / June 2008 / 232 pages / $14.00 / $12.60 at Amazon)

Shannon Yarbrough’s Stealing Wishes and The Other Side of What are available at Amazon.  

Floyd M. Orr is the author of The Last Horizon: Feminine Sexuality & The Class System and other books, and the editor of Print On Demand Book Reviews & More (PODBRAM).

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