Monday, July 17, 2017

Mascara & Bandages by Brandon Witt (#gay #drag #romance)

Oh my, but how I loved this! The pivotal homophobic assault aside (and I will get to that in a moment), Mascara & Bandages was just so lovely . . . so sweet . . . and so adorably sexy. What did I love about it so much, you ask? Well, how about a drag queen mermaid, who owns a bookstore, and who is so totally a bottom? It is like Brandon Witt peered into my heart and gave me everything I could want in a gay romance.

Zachary Cooper is a shy, nervous young man who only truly comes alive when he's on stage, strutting himself as Ariel Merman. One night, after a show, all the pain and darkness of his life comes crashing down on him, reminding him he is "Just a skinny, femme man, wearing makeup and a dress." It is on his walk home that he is attacked, with the assault landing him in the hospital . . . where he meets the stunningly handsome Dr. Teegan Chau.

That assault continues to haunt both Zachary and Teegan throughout the story, but every cloud has a silver lining, and not only did it bring them together, but it reminds them of who matters most in their lives, whether those families are chosen or biological. On that note, they are surrounded by a wonderful cast of characters, who help make the story come alive, but it is the budding romance between these two shy, tentative young men that is so wonderful to explore. Witt takes things slowly, giving us awkward exchanges of hints and innuendo, a lovely first date, the first tentative stirrings of intimacy, and some wonderfully suggestive moments of eroticism.

Mascara & Bandages has its moments of darkness. It is a realistic story that explores the challenges of coming out and being gay, but it is also one in which true love emerges triumphant. I loved these boys and would be delighted to encounter them again.

Brandon Witt's outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he's got plenty to write about....

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