Title: A More Perfect Union
Author(s): J. Scott Coatsworth, Michael Murphy, Jamie Fessenden, and B. G. Thomas
Genre: Gay Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 350 pages
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made a monumental decision, and at long last, marriage equality became the law of the land. That ruling made history, and now gay and lesbian Americans will grow up in a country where they will never be denied the right to marry the person they love.
But what about the gay men who waited and wondered all of their lives if the day would ever come when they could stand beside the person they love and say, “I do?”
Here, four accomplished authors—married gay men—offer their take on that question as they explore same-sex relationships, love, and matrimony. Men who thought legal marriage was a right they would never have. Men who, unbelievably, now stand legally joined with the men they love. With this book, they share the magic and excitement of dreams that came true—in tales of fantasy and romance with a dose of their personal experiences in the mix.
To commemorate the anniversary of full marriage equality in the US, this anthology celebrates the idea of marriage itself, and the universal truth of it that applies to us all, gay or straight.
In general I enjoyed all these stories. They weren’t all carefree and blissful, or as I like to say, “Sunshine and rainbows,” but there was love and happy endings. I’ll admit that when I picked up this anthology, I was hoping to see more of a collection of stories based on the real experiences of the authors, because why else would you specifically gather four gay married authors to write an anthology? But Fessenden’s was the only one based partly on his true experiences.
My last criticism would be that each story could have been edited down a bit. There were parts I skimmed because I felt there was a bit too much summary, and those plot points weren’t as important to me. I understand the anthology seemed to stress a complete–from love to after marriage–cycle of marriage, but I didn’t think it was necessary in most cases.
Here’s a breakdown of each of the stories, plus bonus pictures of all four authors on their wedding days! Cute!
Flames by J. Scott Coatsworth
Wow. This story was probably the hardest for me to read, and it started out the anthology! What I liked the most about it was that Alex, our main character, was being a bit of a jerk. And honestly, in marriage that happens–our lovers see the best and worst of us. Unfortunately for Alex, after being a jerk to his boyfriend, Gio gets badly burned in an accidental fire and falls into a coma… damn. I still had hope for Alex, and without going into spoilers, let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed in him. It was gusty for the author to create a possibly unlikable character from the beginning. It had a level of reality I appreciated, and a depth I enjoyed exploring as Alex suffered through his stages of grieving.
Jeordi and Tom by Michael Murphy
Here was another accident story, and at first I was like, “Oh noes! Not another one!” but it turned out to be a different kind of accident. For one, Jeordi and Tom are a pretty stable, if poor, couple; for two, Jeordi gets hit by a car, but he’s not in a coma. Also, this story isn’t about redemption. It’s about–at least I thought it was about–how fucking awful Jeordi’s family is, and how some of them eventually come around, but some don’t. I’m being sixty percent facetious and forty percent serious, but I’m also kinda being serious. People are assholes, and sometimes there isn’t anything you’re going to do to change them. Sometimes you gotta let them go. And that’s life.
Destined by Jamie Fessenden
I may be a bit bias for the reasons why I loved this story, and why it was my favorite. There is so much of the author in this one–in every little detail–that I couldn’t help but feel as if I were reading a slightly fictionalized version of true events, which made the reading experience absolutely precious and valuable to me. I love those moments where I see the author poking through the pages, and there’s something about fictionalized nonfiction that greatly appeals to me, both in writing and reading. I highly recommend this story for the realism and the sweet ending, and I greatly wished the anthology had been more like this.
Someday by B. G. Thomas
This was one of my favorite stories of the anthology. I enjoyed the realism around the boys growing up, and I adored how Lucas fell in love with Dalton at first sight, and knew deep down he was going to marry him. It reminded me of a collection of short stories I read by Ryan Van Meter, called If You Knew Then What I Know Now. They were all nonfiction stories, and Van Meter tells one about how when he was in Kindergarten, and he asked a boy to marry him. His mother scolded him, and Van Meter felt horrible, but he didn’t know why he was being yelled at. He and the little boy never spoke again, and he eventually forgot his name. In a lot of ways, I felt as if this story by Thomas healed that part of me that was broken by reading Van Meter’s tragedy.