“Never, ever let a toppy git know just how much they turn you on, or you’ll spend your whole bloody life in a state of perpetual turned-on-ness.” – Josephine Myles
That’s pretty good advice coming from the city mouse who’s so in love with a toppy git country mouse that even though they broke up five years earlier, he can’t stop thinking about the life they’d once had together. But it all went tits up, you see, when the country mouse dropped out of the rat race to become a full-fledged woodsman, and that defection broke the city mouse’s heart.
Josephine Myles breaks a tropey little mold in Merry Gentlemen, taking the standard boy-meets-boy, boy-loses-boy, boy-gets-boy back formula and giving it a little twist, in that when the story opens, the boys had already met and were already kaput before the reader even gets the chance to relish in the angst of their breakup. But wait, it’s okay because when the country mouse comes back to the city, and the city mouse gets a gander at his ex-toppy git country mouse, it doesn’t take long to figure out there will still be plenty of “can I smack some sense into these two guys?” moments to get through, all to scratch and satisfy your angsty-loving itch.
I absolutely adore Christmas stories and their sugarplum sweetness, so leave it to Josephine Myles to write a holiday treat that takes place around Christmastime but has little to do with the miracles and the fa-la-la-la-la, and everything to do with romantic complications, with much hilarity and bird poop thrown in just for fun. Yes, there’s a point to the poop. It’s pointedly practical poop, relevant to the plot and character development, even, so there. Read and you’ll understand.
Riley MacDermott and Stanislav Dubinsky are now my two favorite of this author’s characters. And if I went back to read all my reviews of her work, I’d probably find I say the exact same thing about the MCs in every last one of them because the fact of the matter is that with each new couple comes new things to love, whether it’s a funny little quirk or an endearing quality that makes them entirely too loveable, there’s always something there that makes them unique, and Ri and Stan are no different.
Merry Gentlemen is, at its heart, a story of adaptation—a life lesson in which the city mouse must decide whether he’d rather live in his country mouse’s world than live without him in his own (Gladys and the Pips, bring it home). Can Ri give up everything he’s ever wanted—or thought he wanted—to be with the one man who makes him happy beyond all reason? Don’t worry: this isn’t a story about Ri sacrificing everything just to be with his man. This is a story of Ri waking up one day and discovering that everything he’s ever wanted has absolutely nothing to do with what he needs to be happy. And what he needs has just walked out the door again. This time for good. See? Angst.
So, if you’re making a list and checking it twice, let’s recap:
Ri + Stan=Love – Check
Plenty of Naughty Fun – Check
Face Splitting Grins – Check
Poop – Check
Really, what more could you possibly want from a book?