When Love Takes Over
Anything can and usually does happen in a fairytale. Pumpkins turn into coaches and mice into horses. The prince falls in love with the commoner. Love has no boundaries and men can see through dirt, grime, and rags to the beauty below. When Love Takes Over, the title implies, the sky’s the limit. The hard part is in taking this nonsense seriously. But if a reader sits back and goes with the fantasy, it’s like being on a Disneyland ride, a refreshing break from reality.
After three years together, Texas English professor and novelist Zack Kelly is dumped by his boyfriend Ben. Zack is at a loss since he thought he was doing everything that Ben required to keep their relationship going. Stunned, Zack sees an ad for Provincetown, Mass., or P-Town as it’s fondly referred to, and decides that wall-to-wall gay men is the kind of getaway that his low self-esteem needs to recover.
Luckily Zack finds a last minute condo rental where the married managers Gary Travers and Bobby Quinn take him under their wing. Clumsy, red-headed Zack meets suave, tanned Van Pierce, not knowing Van is porn superstar bottom Hart Throb. Like in any good fairytale, it’s love at first sight even though there are predictable hiccups along the way to happily ever after.
Instead of a ball and other fairytale social events, P-Town provides a social tea, dick dock, and other amusements, all of which are way outside Zack’s narrow experience. But Zack’s the kind of guy whom everyone likes, so when he tells himself he’s going to go with the flow, he’s swept up in a gay man’s dream.
He and Van hit the clubs, dance, drink, and have wall-to-wall sex with Van blowing off his job to be with Zack. Both know that the idyll won’t last, but, hey, it’s fun while it does. Then things get dicey as both fall in love.
Both Zack and Van are perfect fairytale fodder. Zack’s just lost his partner, just as Van did the previous year. Both wear their hearts on their sleeves, subject to being ripped from there and stomped on. Both are looking for that special guy with whom he can settle down and live life like condo managers Gary and John do. But both are realistic enough to know that Van’s day job as a superstar bottom is a roadblock to any long-term relationship.
Flores’ light, breezy style for the most part helps keep the fairytale ambiance of the book flowing. Readers probably won’t get emotionally engaged with either Zack or Van, but the pace and good-natured tone will keep them bouncing along without a problem. Those who like to read sex scenes will have enough to sugar-coat the hint of reality when Zack or Van start thinking beyond the gay paradise of P-Town’s attractions. In fact, Flores sugar-coats too many behaviors standing in the way of gay men who want more than adolescent fun their entire lives, which is a disservice to any young man trying to believe this lifestyle might ultimately bring lasting happiness.
Do I believe Zack and Van have a happy, solid future in front of them? Not really. Does it matter that I think this relationship is probably as doomed as their last ones? Not really. The book is about getting out of the doldrums, and like any good vacation reading, it fulfills its purpose. For more realistic and less light-hearted looks at the same subject matter, there are other books in the gay romance field to read.