I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned a cover in one of my book reviews before, but Natasha Snow’s beautiful cover for Silver and Gold is honestly the kind of thing I’d want on my wall! This is an anthology of six novellas compiled by editor Amanda Jean, focusing on same gender couples with an age difference.
This is not the kind of book where the power dynamic is exaggerated in favor of the older lover. I don’t know whether Jean selected the stories this way on purpose to avoid fetishization of the age difference or because power dynamics are already unpredictable if both lovers are the same gender, but either way it gives depth and realism to the stories and I thought it was worth mentioning. Also, some stories have sexual content and some don’t.
There’s one cis f/f story, the charming “The Memory of You”, which asks the question if chemistry is worth overcoming obstacles–real or imaginary. Other than that, the rest are m/m — some cis, some trans — and with plenty of bisexual characters.
I was impressed from the first page, where in “After the Dust”, Eleanor Kos shows me not only a bi, Jewish main character but also a scene that I took part in myself only a few months earlier in real life, as the first speaker (“Will you sit shiva for him? There are people who would sit with you.” “I don’t want to be with strangers.”) I’ve buried six family members in five years, and it’s validating to see mourning experiences so similar to my own described in fiction. Anyway, the story is about a man mourning his brother with the help of his own old military buddies and his brother’s best friend, a down-on-his-luck college student. If you’re here in Glassland for the Jewish content, this is the story you want (with a secular MC.)
In “Coffee Boy”, trans author Austin Chant has his trans MC Kieran point out how hard can be getting people to treat him like a person instead of a Very Special Episode: “Marcus thinks I’m brave for getting out of bed in the morning. He doesn’t take me seriously. He takes my problems seriously.” Kieran is volunteering for a political campaign while slowly falling for his cranky boss Seth, who in turn has a crush on Marcus, their straight supervisor. I think I might have liked this story best just because I feel like I would have gone for Seth myself, and also because I guess I’m a sucker for love starting with “this person sees me like I see myself.” (Seth is a haven of correct pronouns in an office of cis people who need constant reminding.)
What I liked about “One Last Leap” was the setting–Hastings, on the coast of England–and also the configuration of guys. The protagonist was just over fifty, which made him not only the oldest “older lover” in the book but also the only one who was old enough to feel like an “older man” to me, and the love interest was Polish and buff, which I thought was cool because I like bigger guys.
“A Corgi Named Kilowatt” had a cool setup that I’ve seen people mention on Twitter during conversations of why do we need yet another novel about a male professor falling for a younger female student — what if the student was much older than the professor? This one was thoroughly fleshed out for the short length, showing and resolving a very real potential conflict when someone at the beginning of their adult career is involved with someone with significant experience and success in theirs.
Also, when they first meet, the author gives us “Evan couldn’t help but be distracted by the good-looking stranger, with his thick, dark, wavy hair and sleepy bedroom eyes. He had stubble grazing his cheeks, the kind that begged to be stroked. To top it off, his voice was deep, like whiskey over gravel. All those features had long been part of Evan’s mental image of the perfect man.” Okay, so if you know anything about me besides “dragons! Jews! girls kissing!” you know that most of that is what I like in dudes — the facial hair, the deep voice, the age. Plus, I’ve totally experienced that moment, that “zuhhhh” when you see someone who fits all of your “things.”
I don’t care for werewolf fiction — just a personal preference — but “Runner” did have a satisfying ending and I liked the religious element author Sam Schooler created to show how werewolves interact with the moon as a female deity. This is the other trans story.
Overall, a quality book with characters I enjoyed reading about. Thank you, Less than Three Press!