If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things. – Confucius
This book took me to my happy place, a book that’s the perfect amalgamation of a knotty romance and characters I fell immediately in lurve with, characters with charm, warmth, personality, faults and foibles, and Kelly Mackay… Kelly, who was a combination of all those things, as well as being afflicted with OCD and agoraphobia, but the beauty part is that Kelly is not merely a prisoner of those afflictions; he is a sum of more than those parts. He is warm and gentle and compassionate, and he has secrets that he’s not willing to share with many people, most certainly not the general public.
After a psychologically altering event, a horrific tragedy that was the catalyst for the person that Kelly would become, he wrote a book called Doorways under the nom de plume Kieran Anders, a critical work that would come to serve as the touchstone for every young man who read it and was, at the time, attempting to come to terms with his own sexuality. It was Kieran Anders’ crowning achievement, and the only book he ever penned. And it is also Kelly Mackay’s deepest secret, one he never intends for anyone outside of his minuscule circle of confidantes to know.
But journalist Jae Fields has gotten a righteous anger on and now nothing is safe or sacred, especially not Kelly’s right to privacy, or to his multiple identities.
Kelly Kendall, has written a book called Windows, a pornographic satirization of the hallowed Doorways. So, why would Kelly purposely defile the book he’d written as a serious catharsis for his own damaged emotional state, all those years before? Simple, he lost a bet to Will Lanier: houseboy, factotum, and general all-around slut, and the best friend-with-benefits Kelly has ever had. (P.S. Will is seriously in need of his own book. Just saying.)
Windows is like the proverbial red flag waved in the face of the angry bull. Jae has taken it on as his personal mission to out this Kelly Kendall hack, who is obviously a woman, no less, for desecrating the one book that helped him survive his own coming out a decade before. Where there are secrets, Jae Fields is the man who will stop at nothing to get to the truth, even if it means posing online as a Kelly Kendall fangirl to discredit the author and reveal her true identity.
It is a tangled web Kelly has woven, not as a practice of deliberate deception but to protect the privacy he so desperately needs. Kelly begins an email correspondence with SberryFields, one that begins as a personal crusade to unearth Kelly’s true identity, but quickly becomes something more, especially after Jae and Kelly unintentionally meet at the funeral of Jae’s ex-lover, a celebrity who happened to have been outed by the tabloid paper Jae works for, and a man who died with a copy of Doorways at his side. Oh, synchronicity, thy name is twisted matchmaker.
Watching Kelly and Jae fall in love was a pure joy while, at the same time, it was a dangling-carrot-of-doom knowing their relationship was little more than a minefield of lies by omission and half-truths and unknowns just waiting to be unearthed. When the house of cards finally tumbles, it’s not an easy thing to witness; nor is it any easier, after all those cards are laid out on the table, realizing it might be too late to overcome all the duplicity that underscored the entirety of their relationship to that point. But boy, it was sure fun being a bystander to the story of these two men and all the colorful characters who helped them tell their story.
ePistols at Dawn has definitely made its way on to my All-time ZAM Favorites List. It’s a story that pits journalistic integrity against a public persona’s right to privacy, and is a story that turns the tables on the journalist, who suddenly finds himself the object of scrutiny by that same media. I loved this one a lot and wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to recommend it.