Erryn reviews ‘Out’ by Cara Dee. This book was released by the author on October 19, 2017, 300 pages. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
***Check out the giveaway at the bottom of this review for a chance to win one of 10 e-copies of the novel***
Why I read this book: I had heard good things about this book and so I was intrigued.
“I guess I always figured coming out was something you did for friends and family, and maybe it is, but it’s personal too, you know? The person I was last night is new. I wanna get to know him.”
I had two things on my list when I arrived in Los Angeles. One, track down Henry Bennington, the uncle and guardian of my little brother’s best friend, and tell him to get his ass back to Washington. He needed to do something about his nephew, who was turning into a douchebag. And two, figure out just how non-straight I was. For the past two years, I’d had all these fantasies, and now was the time to explore them, far away from my sleepy little town.
Nowhere on this list did it say, “Get Ty’s uncle into bed and fall for him.” I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with another city either. But between brunch, making new friends, and discovering the man I was meant to be, I lost sight of the future that had once seemed pretty damn vivid. How the hell was I supposed to merge my old life and who I used to be with the new dreams Los Angeles and Henry had awakened in me?
“I have a question, Zach,” Martin said.
“You can’t buy me new pants, man,” I replied.
The two men shared a stunned expression before amusement took over, and I felt bold. Comfortable, most of all. I smirked and shifted in my seat, then dug back into my food.
After the chuckles had died down, Martin faced Henry with a serious look. “I want to keep him. Don’t tell me I can’t.”
Even Henry smiled at that.
“But no, you rascal, that wasn’t what I wanted to ask,” Martin told me. “Although, I’ll certainly try again later. My question is about next week. Will you be doing any sightseeing?”
I hadn’t really thought about that. I was here to explore something else. That said, it would be cool to see some of the stuff I’d watched on TV. The Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier, and Venice.
“Maybe some.” I chewed slowly, guessing this was an opportunity to try some of that honesty. My stomach did a somersault, and my hunger faded momentarily. I had to jump, though. I’d regret it if I didn’t. “Ehm, the thing is…” I cleared my throat and reached for a wineglass. Condensation had fogged the surface, and I took a big gulp of it. I wasn’t much of a wine drinker, but it did the trick. “I was wondering…um, what’s West Hollywood like?”
I’d heard it was a neighborhood with a strong gay culture. A gayborhood, if you will.
You learned the weirdest terms online. I still wasn’t sure what the difference was between twinks and twunks.
Henry had grown still, and he put down his lobster roll and wiped his mouth with a napkin. He didn’t look super comfortable.
Martin eyed me up and down, a small smirk playing on his lips. “So perhaps you don’t have a girlfriend at home.”
I shook my head no.
Looked like all I had to do was mention West Hollywood and they knew where I was going with this.
Martin patted my hand. “Hon, is this new to you?”
“Very.” I managed a weak smile, and my heart pounded. “I don’t want to suppress it, though. I’ve had these thoughts for two years. I wanna find out.”
If I didn’t know any better, he looked proud. It didn’t make sense. With their obvious surprise settling, they started eating again. At least Martin did. Henry seemed more interested in his wine.
My guess was it was a sensitive topic for him because of how he’d been treated when he came out.
I didn’t know Martin’s history.
“How old are you?” Martin asked. “Twenty-two, twenty-three?”
I nearly balked. I didn’t look that fucking young, did I? “I’m twenty-seven!”
He waved a hand. “Semantics for me.” Thoughtful and chewing, he looked at his friend. “What do you think, Henry? We can’t in good conscience send him to WeHo clubs.”
“Definitely not.” Henry’s voice was quiet, yet firm. As if the idea was ludicrous. “They’ll eat him alive.”
“Do you go there? To the clubs there, I mean.” I glanced between the two.
Henry’s mouth twisted up.
Martin laughed outright. “Oh no, dear. We’ve aged out of the system.”
I wanted Henry’s take on things. Despite his evident discomfort, I looked at him in question. Teach me. Or hell, kiss me if you won’t tell me where to go. Okay, perhaps that would make him more uncomfortable.
He surrendered with a sigh, and he put down his food once more. “West Hollywood’s clubs might be too much if you’re just testing the waters and want to take things slowly. Their scene is a meat market. Not that I’ve been there in ages. As Martin pointed out, we’re not part of the demographic anymore.”
“We’re too old,” Martin supplied.
Henry shot him a frustrated look. “Thank you for reminding me.”
“You’re very welcome,” he replied, and I couldn’t help but grin. “Henry’s right, Zach. If you want sexy go-go boys and a round of Dude, Where’s My Car when you wake up not knowing where you are, those clubs are perfect.” He made a dismissive gesture with his hand. “Of course, you can find low-key bars as well, and many of my friends have settled down in domesticated gay heaven there, but we can probably find you a nice gay bar on the westside, too.”
West Hollywood wasn’t west enough?
Henry inclined his head. “There’s no need to dive straight into the club scene.” He paused. “You haven’t visited any gay-friendly bars at home?”
I shook my head. “I’m not…hiding, per se. But I haven’t been comfortable yet.”
If I came home with a boyfriend, I didn’t believe I’d face many problems. My nana was open-minded and accepting, and Mattie had friends who were already out. I just…I guessed I was one of those guys who liked to process things on my own first, and this was the option with which I was most at ease. I wouldn’t be on my own, but I would be away from everyone I knew.
“So a chill bar or something,” I said, getting us back on track. “Will you guys go with me?”
“Abso-fucking-lutely, darling.” Martin nodded and licked filling off his finger.
“Thank you.” I was relieved.
“Wait for it,” Henry muttered.
I frowned in confusion, and Martin’s eyes landed on me, his expression gleeful.
“You can’t go to a gay bar like that,” he said.
“You’re talking about shopping, aren’t you?” My shoulders slumped. I didn’t know squat about fashion, and I wasn’t very interested.
“I am, yes, and it’s nonnegotiable.” He was too smug.
I agreed with his terms, though. I wanted to experience as much as possible. Even if it meant shopping.
“Can we go today?” I asked.
Martin laughed softly. “Boy’s eager, Henry.”
Henry merely hummed and took a swig of his wine.
With an ordinary and mundane life like mine, I craved emotions that were foreign to me. I wanted to be pushed, I realized. Out of my comfort zone, away from the conventional.
I wanted to try something weird.
Weird for me, anyway, which wouldn’t take much.
I needed a new list. A list for coming out as…whoever I was.
What a great book!
It piqued my interest when it first came out and I grabbed it when the opportunity presented itself and I am so glad. Cara’s book is funny, heartening, and oddly, redemptive.
Zach is a good guy. He’s been raising his little brother almost since Mattie’s birth and is still at it, even as Mattie nears adulthood. Mattie’s best friend Tyler is sliding into a bad place and Zach has taken it upon himself to help Ty. I felt this was a bit of a stretch for me, just because Ty really sounded like he wasn’t worth the effort. But that’s the point, right? That we all need someone to champion us?
So Zach is Ty’s advocate, heading from their small town in Washington down to California to speak to Ty’s uncle Henry. Zach has a secondary motive for coming south. He’s unsure of his sexuality and experimenting in their small town might not be the best idea. When he meets Henry, his world tilts. Yes, there are twenty years between the two of them…but Zach sees a sexy older man who can show him the lay of the land, so to speak. Of course Henry’s best friend and neighbor Martin has to stick his nose in and soon the three men are making their way through L.A. culture. And although Zach does suffer from culture shock, he also has a moment of reckoning. His life is in Washington, right? His brother, home, store, and grandmother are all back north, waiting for him. So why is he starting to long for a life he never aspired to?
I often discuss point-of-view and it’s important to note that this story is told entirely from Zach’s perspective. He’s good at eavesdropping, which helps him discover what is going on inside Henry’s head, and goodness knows Martin can be a fountain of information. I love Martin and his penchant for getting in over his head, in every sense of the word. Although I didn’t get inside Henry’s head, I was okay with that. He tries to argue that he has no way to influence his nephew, but Zach isn’t willing to give up so easily. Slowly, he breaks down Henry’s barriers, showing the older man that there is something worth fighting for – his nephew’s soul as well as possibly more.
But doubts run deep. Henry grew up in the house where Ty is now living, and although he was able to break free, he fears his nephew’s indoctrination is too far gone. Still, he is willing to try, with Zach by his side. When the Ty situation is being resolved, though, the relationship between the two men is facing its toughest challenge. Will Henry and Zach be willing to fight as hard for their relationship as they are willing to fight to save Ty?
There is a lot packed into this book along with the emotional issues. The one thing I will touch on is the humor. Each chapter is titled and that alone is worth the price of admission, so to say. Watching the clash of generations is also amusing, and I have to try a Purple Haze, which is apparently a great cocktail. Who knew?
There are lots of great reasons to read this book and I’ve listed a few. I’ll add one more. We all deserve happiness in our lives. Henry brings that to Zach and Zach pays it back tenfold. These two men belong together. The boys, Martin, settings, and Eagle (love Eagle!) will all sort themselves out because love is worth fighting for. Especially now that Zach is Out.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
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This giveaway ends on January 7, 2018 at 11:59 PM CST. GOOD LUCK!
I’m often stoically silent or, if the topic interests me, a chronic rambler. In other words, I can discuss writing forever and ever. Fiction, in particular. The love story—while a huge draw and constantly present—is secondary for me, because there’s so much more to writing romance fiction than just making two (or more) people fall in love and have hot sex. There’s a world to build, characters to develop, interests to create, and a topic or two to research thoroughly. Every book is a challenge for me, an opportunity to learn something new, and a puzzle to piece together. I want my characters to come to life, and the only way I know to do that is to give them substance—passions, history, goals, quirks, and strong opinions—and to let them evolve. Additionally, I want my men and women to be relatable. That means allowing room for everyday problems and, for lack of a better word, flaws. My characters will never be perfect.
Wait…this was supposed to be about me, not my writing.
I’m a writey person who loves to write. Always wanderlusting, twitterpating, kinking, and geeking. There’s time for hockey and cupcakes, too. But mostly, I just love to write.