The Book of Daniel
The St. Nacho’s gay series is set in a small coastal California town where a group of interesting individuals live and for the most part get along peacefully. While there’s a little prejudice and bias, the laid-back community mostly accepts any and all who settle there.
In Maxfield’s Jacob’s Ladder, Yasha (AKA Jake) and his brother Daniel were in a horrific car accident caused by the coastal fog and Daniel was pulled out of his expensive sports car by firefighter Cameron Rooney, whom Daniel has nicknamed the “abdominal firefighter” because of his huge size. Daniel has recently come out and is in the process of divorcing his exacting, finicky wife whose many rules have kept Daniel bound and unhappy for decades. Although he’s known since his teens that he’s gay, successful, wealthy developer Daniel married because his mother was heartbroken when his brother came out, leaving Daniel as the only “normal” son.
After the accident, Daniel is left with a mangled but repaired hand, physical therapy, and a succession of one-night stands as well as a Kanji tattoo on his back. He’s fighting his attraction to Cam until they become best men at Yasha’s upcoming wedding. As they get closer, Daniel realizes he loves Cam. But how can someone as shallow and manipulative as he is gain the love or someone as gentle and giving as Cam? And even if Cam loved him, they’d have no future since Cam sees St. Nacho’s as his ultimate haven while Daniel sees it as a prison.
The power of the story relies on readers liking both the wealthy Daniel and the altruistic, big-hearted Cam.
With the self-deprecating Daniel as narrator, this goal is a slam dunk. Daniel’s view of himself has obviously been shaped by his neurotic wife who loves the material things he can give her through his successful career. But since she doesn’t love him, he not only doesn’t love himself but also feels he’s essentially unlovable. Readers as well as Cam will immediately see through this untrue self-evaluation.
Larger than life Cam is just the person to change up Daniel’s personal and world views. His uncompromising solidness commands respect and admiration, and his unshakable belief in Daniel’s essential goodness demands that Daniel accept his viewpoint as the truth.
Together they challenge and will change readers’ preconceived notions about the culpability of a gay man who marries for the wrong reasons yet finally finds the courage to set himself and his spouse free. Not all gay men in heterosexual marriages are hiding, but some like Daniel are simply trying to placate someone they love, in this case Daniel’s mother.
This is another strong entry in a thought-provoking, engrossing and entertaining series.