The Other Guy
We’ve all seen the movies and read the books where Mr. Right sweeps the bride off right before she says “I do.” But what happens to the hapless groom, aka the “other” guy? Attwell uses this classic image of the forgotten groom as the springboard for an unusual and entertaining romance.
Good, solid, well-meaning Emory James is the guy left behind after his fiancée embarrasses him at their wedding by running away with her former lover (whom Emory refers to as “The Good Looking Bastard”). Emory weathers shutting down the festivities and cancelling everything except the honeymoon. He figures as long as he paid for a vacation, he might as well use it. Who needs time away more than he does?
But Emory isn’t a bold and wild guy, but rather Mr. Steady and Even, the nice guy, if you will. So when he gets to the beach resort in Thailand that was his fiancée’s fairytale destination, he doesn’t quite know what to do with himself.
Fortunately, he runs into photographer Nate, who lures him on outings, walks on the beach, and trips Emory wouldn’t ordinarily take. After they kiss, Nate also sparks a hint of romance in Emory that he never felt with his manipulative fiancée, which thoroughly confuses Emory.
Back home, Emory misses Nate but has realized all along that there never was a future for them. They only knew each other as ships passing in the night at a romantic vacation resort. While that saddens him, real life is even less appealing: he must return the wedding presents and write notes to people who traveled a long way for the wedding.
Fortunately, fate enters in the form of Nate’s niece who lisps and is being treated by none other than Emory, a speech therapist. Suddenly, instead of mooning over the one picture of them together in Thailand, Emory and Nate can pursue their attraction. This works slowly but well until Emory’s fiancée returns, disillusioned by The Good Looking Bastard.
Emory will endear himself to readers as a patient, stable guy who’s easily persuaded to try anything once. That he hasn’t figured out his sexuality is only part of his finding out who he is and what he ultimately wants. He doesn’t wallow in his problems, but quietly and methodically tries to figure out what’s wrong and what’s right and do what’s right for him.
The more creative and outgoing Nate is the perfect foil for him. While Emory is everyone’s friend, known for his steadiness and compassion, Nate’s everyone’s friend because of his eye for color and adventure. Nate doesn’t want to miss out on life or let it pass him by, so he drags Emory with him to the betterment of both.
Why Emory falls for Nate after being brutally dropped by his fiancée is a no-brainer. Why Nate falls for Emory, however, is never fully developed. Globe-hopping photographer Nate always feels just a little out of Emory’s league, so learning a little more about his side of the attraction would have been nice.
This is one of the M/M romances that tries to explain why men who think they are straight might not be. For some, homosexuality is known almost from birth, but for others, it’s a part of themselves that they’ve not explored. They’ve bowed to the predominant heterosexual culture around them without really thinking through who they are.
No one’s more surprised than Emory to realize his sexual nature. And fortunately, readers get a chance to follow Emory on his journey of self-discovery.