>Aloes by Chris Quinton


by Chris Quinton
Manifold Press
246 Pages

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A fluke accident puts Perry in a coma. When he awakes, his scrambled synapses have given him a talent; he can tell truth from lies simply by their flavor. This, plus the new client who is far too attractive for Perry’s peace of mind, the client’s contentious family and the dilapidated old mansion Perry has to restore for him – not to mention anonymous threats which escalate to attempted murder – all ensure that Perry’s life will never be the same again!


Perry Lattimer is living the quintessential life: Great job, great friends, a supportive family, a home to call his own, and a life partner to share it all with. Perry and Cray have known one another since childhood and have been lovers since high school. Perry lives a life that anyone would envy – that is, until the day he comes home to find Cray in a wholly compromising position with another man, at which point Perry realizes that living “the dream” means sometimes having to wake up to cold, harsh reality. The reality is that one man’s fulfillment is another man’s discontent, and Perry ultimately finds himself questioning every moment of the years he’d spent with Cray.

Suffering from a stress related migraine, brought on by the revelation of Cray’s infidelity, Perry has an accident that leaves him in a coma, battered, bruised and concussed. To his fortune, he’d been on the phone at the time with his friend and boss, Victor Bennett, arranging to meet with a new client regarding the restoration of said client’s family estate – a Victorian Gothic mansion in a state of utter disrepair, which at the time seems to mirror Perry’s life. Drew Connors is with Victor at the time of Perry’s phone call and both men rush to Perry’s aid, where Drew’s quick actions ultimately save Perry’s life.

As Perry recovers and attempts to restore a semblance of normality to his existence, he realizes that waking up from his coma has left him with the uncanny ability to taste truths, lies, and malevolent intent. What at once may seem implausible is also actually quite conceivable in some ways, as there are so many things we don’t yet know about the human brain and to what levels it’s capable of functioning. Conceivable or not, however, I found the premise to be an original and interesting part of the story. I was fascinated by the sensations ascribed to each of the three concepts: Lies taste of bitter aversion; truths taste of apple-sweet temptation which pitches toward the intoxication of apple brandy when those truths are backed by passion; malevolence shocks with the sting and burn of pepper. Throughout the story, I found myself wondering if knowing the flavor of lies and truths would conceivably compel a person to live a more truthful life himself. It was an interesting concept to ponder and one for which I’m not sure there’s a concrete answer.

After Cray’s betrayal, Perry finds that trust and security are two concepts on which he may no longer be able to rely. Is faith, loyalty, and commitment a death sentence for a relationship? Is contentment in life the antidote to passion? As Perry finds himself the object of interest for both his friend, Joe, and the handsome and confident, Drew, Perry must decide whether he wants to play safe with his heart, or give his all to the man who lights a fire in his soul the likes of which he’s never known. With Joe, life would be uncomplicated, with Drew, complications come from several different fronts and it’s up to Perry to decide whether he’s up for the challenges.

Beyond the romantic complications of the story, Perry also becomes involved in a dispute within the Connors family that may prove to be detrimental to both Perry’s and Drew’s well being. While this aspect of the story provided a nice compliment to the building of the relationship between Perry and Drew, I found the strengths of the book to be based in the characters themselves and the exploration of the advantages that an enhanced ability to sort truths from lies could bring to one’s own sense of security.

Aloes is a well written, smoothly paced tale of romance, mystery, danger and suspense. Being British herself, Chris Quinton does “American” quite well. The ending of the book actually feels more like the beginning to a new chapter in the lives of these two very engaging characters and has left me hoping for a sequel, which I would very gladly read to witness the progression of the romance between Perry and Drew.

Review by Lisa

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