I bumped into this hashtag on a virtual book club, and I loved it. The notion is instead of a Throwback Thursday photograph (which, like many queerfolk who were kicked to the curb, I don’t have beyond a certain date), you post a book you loved from back when. You all know how I feel about book reviews and bringing attention to missed gems, so…
The Night We Met, Rob Byrnes
There’s a whole story about reading this book that I love to tell. Basically, The Night We Met dropped perfectly into my lap at a time when I truly needed it. I’d been dumped by my works-in-finance older boyfriend (and replaced by a blonder model), I’d struggled to find a new place to live with zero notice, and although I loved my job in the book industry, I was coming home to a tiny empty apartment every night (I hadn’t managed to afford a bed yet) and things were beyond tight.
Then, I opened a box at work one day while doing stock, and there was this book. The cover made me do a double-take: wait, are those two guys smiling at each other like… y’know?
I read the back flap, and blinked in surprise. Yep. It looked like I’d actually just found a gay romantic comedy. Woah. So, I bought it with my store credit (we used to earn rewards for working above-and-beyond, and I hoarded my points to trade into gift certificates to buy books with), and I started reading it on my break, where people kept asking me what I was reading because I was laughing so hard.
I read it on the bus-ride home, even though that makes me feel a little motion sick (and people stared because I laughed so loud). And I decided that, damn it, I deserved a treat and I went to the pizza place across from where I lived in my tiny empty apartment and I had dinner while I read.
They kicked me out for laughing too loud, so I took my remaining pizza home with me kept reading.
I finished the book sometime in the wee hours of the morning, wrote a barely coherent review on Amazon, and collapsed into one of the best sleeps I’d had in years. It was the perfectly timed book: it reminded me that no matter how low I got, I needed to laugh, and the eerie parallels certainly helped: the main character of the book works in the book industry and gets dumped by his older boyfriend (who works in finance) for a blonder model right off the bat.
Mind you, I never fell for the son of a mafia boss after that, but a guy could dream.
The story is witty and reads like a cross between a mad-cap zany caper and a rom-com, and the result was gold. Picture a book editor, Andrew, recently (and not willingly) single and gay, whose ex just picked up something younger and cuter. Andrew’s first two books are on the bargain bin, he’s feeling pretty down, and then at an opening party for a new gay bar on Hallowe’en, he meets the man of his dreams, the man who could just maybe be, Mr. Right.
If Mr. Right was a quasi-heterosexual son of one of the worst Mafia Capo bosses in the city, and if Andrew could be sure that Mr. Right didn’t just mistake his Hallowe’en costume (a drag outfit) for Andrew himself being a woman…
The bon-mots are fabulous, the plot is so outrageous that it has a Evanovich-esque slaptstick to it that just totally leaves you gasping for air between guffaws. And beyond it all, there’s Andrew, hopeless (and hopeful) romantic, dodging thugs, police, FBI, his best friends, and once or twice having nookie that will curl your toes.
Phenom. And from this book onward, every time Byrnes put out a book, I nabbed them immediately.