Title: Opposites Attract 1: Red + Blue
Author: AB Gayle
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Ben Dutoit, Adrian Sutherland
POV: 1st, 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
An Opposites Attract novel Fresh from backwoods Minnesota, actuarial student Ben Dutoit is ecstatic to land a job with Sydney Sutherland Family Insurance, one of the few companies that offer life insurance to people in the high-risk category. The fact that he gets to work in Gay Central, aka San Francisco, is just the icing on the rainbow-colored cake. Ben sets himself just three goals: be out and proud enough to participate in the Pride parade; seek out the company of like-minded souls in the clubs; and maybe, if he’s lucky, fall in love. But the men Ben meets are everything he’s not: suave, confident, sophisticated, and sexy. Unlike redneck Ben, they’re blue bloods from blue states, born with status, wealth, and the responsibility that comes with the package. Ben’s still wondering if red and blue can mix when he discovers what risk really means. The global economy tanks. The job he looked forward to is in jeopardy, and every dream Ben ever had is threatened, especially love, the biggest dream of all.
Red + Blue is a complex, interesting tale of two seemingly different men on a quest to not only discover themselves, but to take a chance at love. May/December romances are a favorite of mine and when you add a little office romance too, you have a perfect read for a long, rainy day.
What I really liked about the book was: the slow buildup of friendship, attraction and then love between the two heroes. From the beginning, the story starts with an unhurried pace, giving this reader plenty of time to really get to know the characters and the lives they lead. Throughout the book, the storyline continues to strengthen as the relationship between Ben and Adrian gets stronger. There is a lot that goes on with the plot itself, and each hero must go through their own personal hell before they can be together, but watching them both grow and evolve as the story progresses is truly a wonderful experience to have.
At the beginning of the book, it is told in first person through Ben’s eyes. It spans several months of his new life in San Francisco. He has a friend named Jason that he casually sleeps with, and he is dealing with earning his keep at an insurance firm. While there, he gets to know his stuffed-shirt, older boss, Adrian and despite himself, Ben finds himself becoming very attracted to him.
Then the book switches to Adrian’s point of view, and we get to experience his life during the same time Ben told his story. Adrian once lived a carefree lifestyle with a man he loved deeply, but once his father had a heart attack, Adrian was almost forced into leaving the life and love he once had, so he can run his father’s company. Because the insurance company is a small one that holds ‘family values’ above all else, he’s forced back into the closet for fear of losing clients because of their refusal to accept homosexuality, and their unreasonable fear that only ‘homosexuals’ spread AIDS. But since Ben has started working for their small firm, Adrian is finding it harder and harder to ignore his respect and attraction for the young man.
The book then switches to 3rd person where it stays this way until the book ends. At first, I wondered if the changing viewpoints would be distracting, but I really found in the end that it did not. I liked getting to know each hero before the story was told and although it was a little unusual, I ended up liking it and I applaud the author for taking a risk and writing it in this way. Also, the book really gets into the fear of contracting AIDS, and what measures a person must take when before, during and after they are tested. I liked that the issue of this disease was not just swept under the carpet, but dealt with in a realistic manner. The story really portrays the fear of having an AIDS scare, and it refreshing to read a book that wasn’t afraid to meet with this difficult subject head on.
Both the characters are very interesting men. I liked both of them and thought that I really thought they were perfect together. Once they really started becoming friends, I could easily see the camaraderie between them by the banter and the obvious respect they had for one another. I also enjoyed the sexual tension that practically sizzled between them, and I really liked watching both characters make big efforts and go that extra mile to possibly have a relationship together. I enjoyed watching both of their dreams of having a more fulfilling life together, actually start to take root and hopefully flourish as time goes by. I thought they really brought out the best in each other, and it was a joy witnessing them work hard for their happy ending together.
Red + Blue is the first book I’ve read by AB Gayle and it definitely won’t be my last. I really enjoyed the author’s easy style of writing as well as the ability to really get to the heart of her characters. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series and highly recommend this book for those who love slow and steady romance with just the right amount of angst and sweetness to satisfy even the pickiest of readers.
Reviewed By: Gabbi