“The Deal” is a perfect summer read for the metropolitan GLBT audience; it’s a romantic comedy with some pithy dialogue and reasonably complex plotting, a few hot little sex scenes (all men), and a unique cast of characters who are as fleshy as they are fleshed-out. It makes for a delightful read for the beach or for the subway (including those who are looking to keep their literature preferences clandestine – the cover, remarkably, does not have a naked man on it!)
The “Deal” alluded to in the book’s title is more of a bet struck between an eclectic group of gay and straight friends on New Year’s Eve of 1999: the two most unlucky in love members of the group must find true love by the year 2000, or stop complaining about it forever. In the interim, they hold monthly “Love Sucks” meetings in and about their home turf of Houston, TX… and narrator Aaron spends the time working out his own definitions of love, discovering steamy sex with a golden-boy ex-partner, a casual affair with an ethnic hook-up, and even instant attraction to a straight guy.
Lambert and Cochrane move the ploy along decently; occasionally the dialogue falls a bit flat, and there are only a few truly hot scenes to keep the reader’s mouth (and libido) watering… but the characters have depth and they are entertaining enough – and human enough – for the reader to persevere through their romantic trials and tribulations.
The comedy, as usual, comes not from hysterical situations, but from the bitchy comments the characters throw at each other. And the romance, as noted, comes not from actual in-page explorations, but from the endearing support the characters throw at each other when they’re NOT being bitchy. That’s real life, folks… and Lambert and Cochrane have mastered it in literary form.
The writing duo leave much to be desired – the ending is a bit sudden, and the plot complexities tend to leave a tremendous amount of options unexplored… and we are left wanting to explore many of them. But it’s their story, after all, and they tell it well. “The Deal” has a bit more meat to it than your average gay novel. And if you’re looking for a novel which entertains while it echoes urban life in a way that will provide opportunity for thought… well, at fourteen bucks, it is, after all, a deal.
by Timothy Lambert and Becky Cochrane
$14.95 street price