In Another Life, Cardeno C
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Pre/Post Attempted Suicide, Holiday Theme (Hanukkah and Thanksgiving), New Beginnings, Contemporary
Reviewer: Kazza K
But there was something about him that made me feel like I’d known him forever. His touches felt natural, the conversation unguarded. Everything about being with Travis Khan felt right in a fundamental way.
When I first started reading In Another life I really thought this book may be a) dark or b) go in another direction than the one it took. It isn’t dark, even though Shiloh has been bullied, feels isolated and, to top it off, terrified at the idea of coming out to his family. So when the reader meets eighteen year old Shiloh Raben, in the prologue, he is in the throes of cutting his wrist –
You know how they say that when you’re about to die your whole life flashes before your eyes? Well, as it turns out, it’s true. But it’s not like what you think. At least for me it wasn’t. Because the life I saw as I lay in the bathtub taking my last breath wasn’t the one I had lived during the eighteen years I lived on this earth. Instead, the life I saw was the one I would be missing for the next eighteen
From the prologue we jump ahead eighteen years – the life that flashed before eighteen year old Shiloh – to the (now) thirty six year old Shiloh Raben. He is a school counsellor and he is at a school Halloween dance as part of the faculty. Here he meets a chaperone who is about to light up a cigarette in the school grounds – a big no-no. Shiloh points out it’s bad for his health. Besides, he can’t smoke at the school. Despite these misgivings, he wonders who this rather attractive man is – hopefully not a married parent – and if he is new to this whole dance-chaperone thing –
“Uncle chaperone, and yes, it’s my first time.” He paused, dragged his gaze down my body and said. “Why? You come here often?” My brain knew the comment was intended as funny banter, but my body trembled in reaction to the perceived come-on from a gorgeous man. And he was gorgeous.
“Listen, I know right now you’re busy working, and I’m busy planning the start to my life of crime by way of cigarette consumption, but I’ve enjoyed chatting with you.”
Forty one year old Travis Khan is the gorgeous, cigarette-smoking-chaperone, and he wants Shiloh’s phone number. Shiloh is a bit clueless at first, thinking the number exchange is to do with Jessica, Travis’s niece. But that is not the reason Travis wants Shiloh’s number and realisation dawns. He gives the number over and can’t believe his luck that someone like Travis is interested. Obviously thirty six year old Shiloh is still impacted by his years of being bullied.
Shiloh finds himself waiting on the call, but by Wednesday – after the Friday number exchange – there is still no message –
…The reality was, Travis Kahn was out of my league.
Meanwhile, the townhouse next to Shiloh’s is for sale, no buyers, but soon enough there is a new tenant with a short lease. Travis Khan. Something that Shiloh discovers in all his crazy morning glory on garbage day when he remembers that he might have missed the garbage pick-up again and grabs anything he can to check it out –
I reached my front step, tripped over my Scooby Doo slippers….
….”Wow,” he said as he ground his cigarette into a bowl on the porch railing and flicked his gaze up and down my body. “You’re wearing three different cartoon characters right now, which is particularly amazing seeing as how you’re barely dressed.”
They talk a bit. Shiloh innocently makes a statement about them both being Jewish and Travis being a doctor, which will impress his mother no end. So Travis figures a date may just be in order first …”I think it’s important to get to know each other before the wedding, don’t you?”
They start dating and they just click. Neither man has been in a serious or committed relationship before. Shiloh wonders why-
“It’s been pretty easy. “I’ve never clicked with anybody. He tilted my chin up so our eyes met. “Until now.”
“You click, Shiloh. Have from the first time we talked. “
I really liked the sound of the premise. I enjoyed the delivery much more. A near-death experience. A sudden change in setting, age and time. People thinking your subconscious is aware and perhaps that enables you to know things you ordinarily wouldn’t. The concept that some people are just meant to be together, that they are waiting for the right person to come along. That the right person can save you. It is written in a lovely manner. Both characters were delightful. I grew attached to them right from the moment I met them. I loved Travis’ sense of humour and (forty one year old) Travis’ dirty mouth. I adored klutzy Shiloh’s choice of boxers and his attitude in general. The sex for the thirty six/forty one year old Shiloh and Travis was all kinds of erotic and the sex to story ratio was perfect. That Hanukkah was the festive season with meaning (along with Thanksgiving) was a refreshing change from Christmas.
There is so much more I could say about In Another Life…I want to…I just can’t because it is a novella and I will spoil it.
Beautifully written – lovely characters, clever premise and wonderful delivery. I have only read two Cardeno C books and both of them have been able to leap periods of time and make it seem effortless and the only way to go, when ordinarily it can be a huge pet peeve. They have also both had charming narrative. If you are in the mood for a festive novella that is a little different – makes you think just a smidge – that is upbeat, sexy and nice, then grab In Another Life. Loved it!
“Smurfs are hot,” Travis said saving me from any more stammering.
This book was supplied to me by the author in return for an honest review.