Title: White Lies
Author Name & Publisher: Jack Byrne (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: August 12, 2015 – 75 pgs
Brent Winton is doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons. Since the death of their parents years ago, Brent is helping his younger brother Zach through law school in sunny Queensland, Australia. The boys share a cheap flat, and Brent works two jobs to support them, but Zach thinks the second job is merely bar tending. In reality Brent has turned to gay prostitution to ensure that Zach has all the best textbooks and the up-to-date laptop he needs so he can focus on his studies. When hot Russian refugee Dimitri moves in next door, Brent finds him mesmerizing, but fears that if he gets involved, Dimitri will expose Brent’s white lies. But Dimitri has a dark secret of his own, and the question becomes how either of them can learn to trust the other without blowing their cover.
I really liked this story. It was about brotherly love, devotion to family and opening your heart to someone new. This book had great character involvement – meaning that when Brent and Zach are starting out, It’s up to Brent to ensure Zach’s future. Maybe without even realizing it, Brent has closed his heart off to people around him. It’s both a protection and a coping mechanism. Even though he has clients who are regulars, it’s more about going through the motions rather than making true connections.
When Dimitri enters the picture, Zach is all excited for his brother. Even though Brent is less than enthusiastic about the new neighbor, it is more out of fear than dislike. I thought that there were some unanswered aspects of the beginning stage of their story and even though it was not really resolved, at the end, I didn’t feel like I was missing out. My major question at the beginning of the story was what was Dimitri’s secret? There was really nothing about that until it’s revealed.
While that was a strange aspect, this story was more about this family getting to know each other. Zach learns that he can be more self sufficient, Brent learns that there is nothing quite like having someone to know all of his history and still be OK with being near him, loving him, supporting him.
I wish the story had a epilogue where we could see where they went in their lives, but overall, this was a sweet story.
There are two sides to this short story. On one hand, it is the story of brotherly devotion, of an older brother who is willing to sacrifice everything for his younger sibling. On the other hand, this is a story about the human costs of prostitution and the difficulties facing gay refugees.
This is an awfully short story for so much turmoil. Because of this, the pace felt wrong to me. I absolutely loved the guys wonderful surfing holiday. I loved the emerging relationship between Dimitri and Brent, and I loved the relationship between Brent and Zach. My only complaint is that each component felt a little rushed and disjointed. 80 pages just isn’t enough to get to know a character as complex and damaged as Dimitri. Or one as conflicted as Brent. And it certainly isn’t enough for two such wonderful, complex characters to build a convincing relationship.
But Brent and Dimitri are great together. The sex is very hot and I finished the book believing in them as a couple.
Ultimately, while I enjoyed this, I wanted so much more. This has potential to be much more than a short story.
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