Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Something to Believe In by Sloan Parker

Sloan Parker
Something to Believe In
MLR Press, December 23, 2012 | 53 pages, 17,000+ words

Author’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here

After running away from the hatred and abuse of their teen years, Sean and Gavin have been hustling to survive for too long now. When some extra cash lands them alone in a hotel room until Christmas, they can no longer deny their feelings for each other. Now neither one can imagine watching the other walk off with one more trick. Even with no money and no job prospects, Sean is determined to not just show Gavin what a real home and holiday is like, but to keep them off the streets for good and build a life together.

Genre & Keywords: M/M Romance, Contemporary, Holiday Story, Young Lovers, Living on the Streets

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 1.75 out of 3 flames
With this story author Sloan Parker proves once again why I'm such a huge fan of her writing. This is by far the best holiday story I've read this season. It's only 53 pages but it reads as a much longer story. Within these few pages Parker creates a full picture and a rich world of emotions when she tells about the young lives of her protags, Sean and Gavin. She keeps it clear and vivid by choosing for one perspective only (Sean's) and telling it in first person. Sean's thoughts and feelings are so real and moving that my heart squeezed for him and through Sean's eyes I fell in love with Gavin too.

Sean and Gavin are both homeless boys, the first got kicked out after his mother found out that he's gay, the other grew up as an orphan wandering from foster home to foster home and eventually ending up on the streets. They meet, a few months after Sean became homeless, at a shelter on Christmas Eve. These first scenes are intense and very touching.
The guys connect during that meal at the shelter in a special way and we learn that they became friends, while the story skips to one year later. Via some flashbacks we get filled in on their lives on the streets, how they survived and how they became closer friends over the year, while in the present Sean is waiting for Gavin to return from a possibly dangerous, weeklong job.

After Gavin's return, they have some extra money that they spend on a stay in a hotel until Christmas. From that point on the story gets a sweeter and happier tone and less of an angsty one, because good things start to happen to them. The most important thing is them spending time together and talking about their real feelings for each other, which go beyond friendship and which they kept a secret until then. Their story becomes hopeful, sexy and sweet all at once during their stay in that hotel. I especially loved the scene where Gavin cuts Sean's hair, it was so symbolic and tender, my heart ached for them while it was filled with joy at the same time.

Talking about emotions: I admit that I couldn't keep it dry (and not just one time either) reading this heartbreak of a story. Parker played with my sad and happy tears as if it was nothing. And that in such few pages too. I don't mean that it's a tearjerker per definition, not at all, no, for me it was all about the depth of feeling connected to these young men and the layered characterization making it possible to sympathize and feel the heart tugs this easily and intensely. I love that kind of emotional connection in my romance reads.

What I truly liked as well, is that the story didn't end with Sean and Gavin exchanging their 'I love you's but that it continued and had a whole different happy ending for us in store after that. Some readers might consider this ‘extended’ happy ending a bit too sweet but I thought it was the perfect way to balance out all the harshness from the beginning. And after all, it's Christmas, so some miracle is in place here. Don't we all need 'something to believe in' every now and then? I think we do, especially when it comes in the shape of a story written by Sloan Parker. :)


  1. Great review Janna. Hm. I both want to read this and I don't - I want too because it sounds so good, but I don't want too because I think ATM the sad parts will tip me over the edge. Hm. Maybe I will read it, but not ATM :)

    1. I think you'll love this story, hon, but yeah, better don't read it yet and wait until the sad parts won't tip you over the edge anymore. I wouldn't want that to happen to you. :)


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