New Release- REVIEW: Liberty- Alexandra Caluen

Liberty Book Cover Liberty
Alexandra Caluen
Multicultural, Interacial, Gay Romance
April 20, 2024
John Hancock Darrow left his North Carolina hometown after college. The only reason he’s there twenty-eight years later is to deal with estate business when his mother and sister are killed in an automobile crash. The realtor he chooses to list his mother’s B&B can’t make that hurt less, but he can help John forget it for a while.

Small-town, self-employed, multiple job holding Daniel Washburn doesn’t expect more than after-dinner sex with the big-city lawyer. When the man turns up at the local ballroom studio a few days later, Daniel’s happy to dance with him. When they start working out an unusual deal for the B&B, they begin to feel like friends. Then during one of their many phone calls, John asks if he can take Daniel to dinner.

John and Daniel keep finding reasons to stay in touch. Then to be lovers. Then to get married. It’s a convenience, John says. Daniel knows it’s more. But John’s ten years older, successful, the kind of man who owns a million-dollar New York City condo and can afford to give away a house. If he wants Daniel on any terms, he surely has his reasons.

Daniel’s willing to wait for the right moment to put that convenience nonsense to rest. Because he has his own reasons, and the truth will set them free.

Review by Ulysses Dietz
Member of te Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

I liked this book from the start; but what seemed at first like a flirty little romance became, as the story unfolded, something ineffably profound and moving.

First we have the fifty-year-old New York corporate lawyer, returning to his small North Carolina hometown to settle his mother’s estate after a tragic accident has claimed the lives of both his mother and his sister. We only know his name is John.

Then there’s the realtor who’s taken on the task of selling John’s “problematic property,” a rambling Victorian turned into a bed-and-breakfast with far too many bedrooms for any family to want. Ten years younger than the lawyer, he overhears an awkward conversation between John and a local married man who, apparently, was his boyfriend back in high school.

The odd circumstances give the realtor the opportunity to come out to the lawyer, sharing a similar story of being jilted by a closeted boyfriend in the very same high school. This leads to a romantic interlude which might have been the end of it—had not John run into Daniel—as we learn his name is—at a local ballroom dancing club called Partner Up.

John is white, and from a “good” family in this small town near Asheville. He left town when he was rejected by his mother for being gay, and made his way into a big-city future. Daniel is black, and he stayed behind to help his family, who struggled financially and needed him. Two different men, half a generation apart, who have had similar experiences but different opportunities and made different choices as a result.

The core of this tale is the gradual awakening of John and Daniel to each other, their initial sexual interaction is a catalyst for a friendship that neither of them expected. John is a workaholic, and so is Daniel; but John has become rich, and Daniel is still barely getting by. Both of them are lonely.Both of them love to dance. Their common roots in the same repressed small southern town provide a link that becomes something more.

What is striking about Caluen’s story is that race, while significant, is not the driving force of the narrative. It seems that their ten-year age gap is the key. I get the feeling that, if they’d been in school together, both of their stories might have been different. Quite by accident, each of them gets a second chance at happiness.

It’s a subtle structure that Caluen weaves here, not following the usual romantic tropes. Each man balances his self-interest with his growing feelings for the other. It is not starry-eyed love at first sight; it is mutual respect that inspires self-transformation.

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