Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 77 Pages
At a Glance: Several huge plot holes turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Lazlo Maguire doesn’t do relationships—he does transactions. Six months of the year, he’s an expensive rent boy in Manhattan, and he moves so fast that settling down could not, would not, ever enter his mind… except for once. Britton Lassiter he meets man to man, not as hustler and mark, and it’s too good to be true when the lawyer wants to keep Lazlo even if he has to share him with the job.
But Lazlo has his reasons to walk away from the man he’s grown to love. The other six months of the year, he is laid-back Laz, a shopkeeper in the sleepy coastal town of Mangrove, Florida, where the artist he never allows himself to be in the Big Apple shines through. He lives for his time by the ocean, the place he hides his secrets and nurses his broken heart.
Then fate intervenes, and Laz gets the surprise of his life when he spies Britton in Mangrove—but it’s not meant to be… not until Britton sees the change in him and wants to be a part of Laz’s new life so that every evening can be easy… together. Hopefully the secrets that tore them apart won’t come back to haunt them.
Review: Let me begin by saying that author Mary Calmes writes very sweet and lovely romance stories. This is an author I go to when I really want a bit of escapism. Her stories are most notable in that any great conflict is usually quickly resolved, her people are beautiful, angst is minimal, and there is always a swift and loving happy ever after. So, it’s safe for me to say that when I choose to review one of her stories, I look at them in this light, with an eye more toward fantasy than realistic m/m relationships. Her latest installment in the Mangrove series, Easy Evenings, is no exception.
Lazlo Maguire is a rent boy. He divides his year between time in Manhattan, where he provides sexual hookups for a variety of clientele, to the quiet town of Mangrove, Florida, leading a quiet life as a shop keeper and creating sculpted wind chimes and various other things out of metals. When he meets Britton Lassiter, his world is turned upside down. Britton makes him want things that he can’t possibly have, and feel things that he’s never felt before. For the first time, here is someone who could possibly make Laz walk away from his rent boy existence. But Lazlo’s life is not his own and despite how much he would like to have that happy ever after with Britton, the responsibilities he has will never allow him to give up the empty life that holds him prisoner.
The story picks up when Laz return for his six month stint at home in Mangrove, and discovers that Britton has moved his law practice to the same town. Without much of a clue as to the why and how, we discover Britton has taken out a restraining order against Laz, and one can only assume that is because Laz has been attempting to reestablish their relationship. This would be the same relationship that Laz walked away from after realizing that Britton was worthy of much more than a rent boy for a life partner. All of this is done in flashback style, narrated by Laz himself—so it is sketchy at best. Then there is a sudden twist in the story when a little three-year-old girl is unceremoniously dumped on Lazlo’s front porch, and he is informed that he is the father. Suddenly everything changes, including his relationship with Britton.
Laz is one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read about. The reasons behind his being a rent boy almost broke my heart. The sweet little girl that he is left with is quite precocious. While she seems a bit too old in her outlook for the age of three, and her dialogue is way too sophisticated for that age as well, I was able to overlook that as the way in which she was written made her truly delightful. These two really captured my heart in a big way—I wanted them to be happy in every way possible.
Britton was a real study in contrasts. Needing to submit to Laz in the bedroom while, at the same time, so fiercely eager to take care of Laz outside of it, I felt I knew so little about him. This was really Laz’s story from beginning to end, and I felt that Britton was a bit underdeveloped as a main character. However, the two made a fiery match and were very well suited to each other. Unfortunately, this was a swiftly moving story and as a result, I felt like major chunks of the story were left untold. For instance the reasons for the restraining order were never really discussed. And just as quickly as it was mentioned, Britton was dropping it in order to be with Laz.
Also, the declaration that he had never had unprotected sex other than with Britton was a blatant lie, particularly since earlier in the story he relates how one evening he had sex with a trick’s wife which apparently produced the little girl Katie. Then again, we are told in the story that he never gives out his real name while turning tricks in Manhattan, except to Britton, yet three years after that one evening, the stepfather currently stuck with Katie after her mother had died is able to track Laz down without knowing his real name. There is a hint that Lazlo knew more about Katie’s mother, but it was never explained so it left me unsure as to how Katie even came to exist.
Ultimately, it was these huge plot holes that turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story. Every time one of these inconsistencies ripped me from the pages, I had to make a concerted effort to put my head back in the game and continue the story. I have read other short stories by this author and found them to be quite lovely. Unfortunately, Easy Evenings had too many troublesome and conflicting details to make this a romance I could recommend.
You can buy Easy Evenings here: