Fair in Love, by Jerry Sacher
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 18, 2015)
Page Count: 230
The saying goes that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it was the cover of Fair in Love that drew me in. I love that it resembles a magazine cover, which seemed perfect for a story about a celebrity. Unfortunately, the cover was about the only good thing about this book.
Fair in Love tells the story of Travis McAllen, a famous country singer, who meets Geoff Randsell, an openly gay West Hollywood bank manager in an unhappy relationship. The attraction is instant, but both men have issues to deal with before they can be together… namely, the fact that Travis is deep in the closet in the extremely homophobic country music industry.
It sounds like an intriguing plot. The set-ups are all there for the normal romance formula, and there’s a strong connection with real life current events (particularly Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman coming out this past November) that made me extremely interested in reading this novel.
But the novel did not live up to expectations. Almost from the start, I found myself questioning the characters’ actions. Instant attraction is one thing, but semi-public kissing after knowing each other for five minutes, when one of the characters is still in a relationship, is another thing altogether. In fact, Geoff’s treatment of his boyfriend Doug is abhorrent, but excused over and over again because Doug is apparently a terrible person and an awful boyfriend… a boyfriend who is shown to be devoted, tries to initiate sex (which Geoff refuses), and has a passion to make movies. Honestly, Doug is probably the only character in this entire novel that I actually liked.
This novel is a hot mess. The characters are flat and uninteresting, when they’re not being inconsistent. The plot is boring… there’s no zing, no drama. Every time something big is foreshadowed, it quickly subsides and the characters move on as though it’s just another day. There is no emotional connection.
The characterization of Travis is bizarre and stereotypical; as someone who is also from just outside of Dallas, I can firmly say that I have never heard anyone utter the phrase “Shucks” or say things like “I’m awful glad ya came to meet me.” He decides to come out of the closet, not caring about possible repercussions (which are foreshadowed, but, of course, do not pan out into anything). He pressures Geoff to quit his job and come on tour with him after knowing him for only a couple of days, urges him to become a public figure, to move in with him, to marry him (literally a day after asking him to move in).
Geoff, on the other hand, is selfish and inconsistent. He cheats on his boyfriend (who literally only wants what makes Geoff happy). He is friends with a woman who hates said boyfriend for literally no good reason and who pushes Geoff away from Doug because he “can’t offer you the advantages that Travis can” (which are fame and money). He is uncomfortable with fame and attention, but apparently has a secret dream to “be the fashion leader of West Hollywood” (when this is never once implied or shown elsewhere).
(And don’t get me started on Geoff’s friend Lu, a character that had me gritting my teeth every time she opened her mouth.)
I finished the novel, although I’m not sure how. I’m giving this novel a 1.5 out of 5, because I think it has potential, but was just poorly written and characterized. All of the promise is there: two men in love, with challenges in their way (the music industry, Travis’ bigoted pastor uncle, Geoff’s ex, even a hurricane that threatens to drown both men while on vacation), and the promise of a HEA at the end. Unfortunately, the book does not live up to that promise.