4 Stars, Valerie Z. Lewis

The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen by Valerie Z. Lewis

Epic is probably overstating things a bit. For that matter, love story is overstating things by a large margin, but that’s irony for you, and The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen is full of it.

Doug Bruce is…special, which is a really PC way of saying he’s a bit wrong-headed, but once you meet his mother, it begins to make a lot more sense. Plus, he’s from Indiana, which goes a long way in explaining his lack of…sophistication. Sh, I’m a Hoosier, so I can make fun if I want to.

Doug’s some kind of genius when it comes to cars, but once he leaves Evansville and moves to New York City, that genius evaporates like the smoke from all the weed he inhales, but Doug likely wouldn’t understand the meaning of the word “inhales” anyway, or “evaporates”, for that matter, so it’s all relative. He’s beautiful, so no one expects him to be smart. All he has to do is stand in front of a camera, naked, and pretend to sell clothes he doesn’t even wear. He’s supposed to write articles about those clothes for The Flame, the magazine he works for, but really, how much can one say about a pair of underwear that you’ve held in front of your naughty bits for a photograph? It’s a challenge for a man who does things like swallows buttons and eats erasers and tries to shoot rubberbands through gaps in the ceiling tiles, nearly putting his eye out in the process. Doug’s a simple guy.

Stephen Keane is a psychological hypochondriac, but really, he’s just evil and kind of honked off at the entire world and all who inhabit it. He doesn’t have a mental disorder; he just has a bad attitude, but it seems to make him feel better if he can give it a clinical name, like high-functioning Bipolar. Stephen is what you might call underutilized in his position of Managing Editor at The Flame. Stephen wants to write socially relevant articles that inform and educate, to be a voice for the voiceless, but he ends up writing articles about gay-friendly vacation spots in the Catskills, instead. But all that does is make him angrier, which makes it even funnier when Doug–a previously straight Doug—falls head over heels in love with Stephen, even though Stephen calls Doug really un-PC names and isn’t at all nice.

There’s a plot here too, which seriously pokes at corruption in the insurance industry and makes a point about domestic partnerships, which leads to a Law & Order inspired investigation that’s laughably incompetent, mainly because it involves a homeless accountant, a drug dealer, a photographer, and Doug, who’s idea of a “diverging” is to strip naked in the lobby of corporate giant “GlobalTech” so Stephen can steal information he needs to expose its corruption.

If you decide to take a chance on this FREE story, (and really, for the price, there’s nothing to lose) make sure your sense of humor is completely intact. There’s nothing at all serious about it, except for the fact that it seriously skewers some of the most familiar tropes in romance. Valerie Z. Lewis pokes fun at insta-love and gay-for-you and impossibly beautiful men. I mean, one’s about as bright as a small appliance bulb, the other is about as cuddly as the love child of Satan and Charles Manson. And somehow, they kind of work together.

Vivien Leigh once said, “It’s much easier to make people cry than to make them laugh.” I have to say there were times in this book where I laughed until I cried.

Download The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen HERE.