“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
Author: Eli Easton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 212
Rating: 4.5 stars
Blurb: Business tycoon Daniel Derenzo lives for his work until his dying father reminds him life is short.
When Daniel starts to reevaluate his world he experiences a startling revelation—he’s attracted to his business partner and best friend, Nick, even though Daniel always believed himself to be straight. In typical type-A fashion, Daniel dissects his newfound desires with the help of the experts at the Expanded Horizons sex clinic. He goes after Nick with the fierce determination that’s won him many a business deal.
Nick Ross was in love with Daniel years ago, when they were roommates in college. But Daniel was straight and Nick patched his broken heart by marrying Marcia. Two kids and fourteen years later, they go through the motions of their marriage like ships passing in the night. But Nick’s kids mean the world to him, and he’s afraid he’ll never get joint custody if they divorced. If he can trust his heart to an awakening Daniel, they all might find their way to a happily ever after.
Review: When our novel opens, Daniel finds himself at his dying father’s bedside listening to the role models of all role models in putting work before everything: family, love, living — explain to him how Daniel must change his own workaholic ways or end up alone at the end of his life. At first, Daniel scoffs at the ideas his father is newly espousing and views him as hypocritical; but an acquisitions trip to Hong Kong with his long time business partner opens up a door that Daniel never knew existed inside him. He was gay and falling in love with his best friend and partner, Nick. Unfortunately Nick was married, albeit in a loveless marriage, but still his two children were what kept him there and he would do nothing to hurt them, including divorce. Does this stop Daniel from pursuing the man he loves? No, after all he is a corporate planner, a leader in acquiring the hard sell, and so he goes after Nick in the same way. But Nick is a noble man and cannot be swayed. Now Daniel must find the chink in the armor that seems to surround Marcia, Nick’s wife and by doing so, get Nick joint custody of his kids and the freedom to be with Daniel. This would be a monumental task even for a corporate giant, but failure is not an option, for Daniel and Nick’s future happiness is at stake.
Eli Easton has a brand of humor all her own and never fails to add a touch of hilarity even when writing about the most serious subject matters. The Enlightenment of Daniel could have been a novel that relied alone on the sadness of the loss of a parent, the agony of divorce and the broken family it so often leaves behind. Instead, author Eli Easton carefully wove lighthearted moments into this novel by making her lead character, Daniel, just a bit neurotic and over achieving. The result was a delightful novel that never pandered to its serious side and never got mired down in it either.
It takes just a bit of genius to handle heavy material with a light yet sensitive hand. The author pulls in Jack Halloran and his new love and partner, Tony, to assist Daniel in his quest to free Nick from his loveless marriage. The scenes surrounding these familiar characters kept this novel from falling into a dark abyss where it could have easily gone. Instead, there was a fine balance between the serious and the sublime. Daniel was a dynamo, never allowing himself to be deterred from his goal of being with Nick. Nick, who seemed rather passive in the first half of this novel, really comes into his own once he decides he cannot do without Daniel, realizing that he must begin to live his life rather than allow Marcia to run it for both of them.
And what about Marcia? So often we are faced in the m/m genre with women who are harpies, slightly demonized by authors who are sometimes intent on showing gay men who are trapped in failing marriages in the best possible light. I watched with growing trepidation at how repulsive Marcia’s character became as the novel marched on. So imagine my delight at the way in which author Eli Easton carefully turned the tables on unsuspecting readers and clearly demonstrated why Marcia was so fierce and angry. When we were finally made privy to the horrible secret Marcia’s own mother had kept from her, we realized how much the past and a closely held lie had shaped this woman and influenced her over the years. By evolving this plot point, the author allows not only Nick and Daniel to forgive Marcia, but the reader to see her in a much more positive light.
In the end, there was little to find fault with in this sweet romance. However, I will say that the passivity written into Nick’s character seemed to be just a bit overdone, and I came very close to doubting he had enough spine to make any relationship work. Thankfully, the author pulled her man back from the edge and allowed his fighting spirit to come to the fore. The Enlightenment of Daniel by Eli Easton was a finely crafted novel that will most assuredly leave a smile on your face!
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