I’m a late-comer to gay fiction, so it’s no surprise that it took a while for Something Like Summer to come across my desk. I sat down one night to read it and, as bad as it sounds, I wasn’t impressed, barely scrambling through the first few chapters before rolling my eyes and flicking off the lights, giving it no further thought. Then when my friend Matt recommended it to me, I was between books. What the hell? I’d give it another go. What I’d first thought was just your typical nerd-meets-jock gay love story unfolded into something far more. I don’t like to admit when I’m wrong. But boy, was I wrong?
As I write this post I am fresh off of reading the latest instalment of the series, so I figured it was time to commit to paper and memory my thoughts on this fantastic series of books. Let’s do this one step at a time.
Something Like Summer: Ben and Tim are high school students, one gay, was ignoring how gay he is. Standard plotline right? No. Ben and Tim’s relationship stands tall in the privacy of their own world, but as with most tragic love stories, it’s everyone else that’s the problem. Well more it’s Tim’s fear of everyone else knowing. Heartbreak follows and where most books might skip forward to a slow dance at prom, SLS spans the following twelve years, a series of chance encounters, another man, the death of a friend and growing up. Twelve years that the average guy might have totally forgotten about the boy they first loved. But in the world of Jay Bell, sandbox love never dies. Ben’s story had me enthralled once I picked up what Bell was throwing down, and I didn’t waste a minute racing to the final chapters, the heat, intensity and tragedy gripping me at every turn. Now under production as a movie from the creators of Judas Kiss, Something Like Summer is a must read for any fan of the m/m romance genre. When you love a book like this, it’s a shame when you reach the final pages, the story ending before you’re ready to let it go. Oh wait…
Something Like Winter: The same story. The same time frame. The same characters. But told entirely from the perspective of Tim. Whilst the first book saw me hating Tim, this publication gave the softer side of the scared closeted high schooler as he grew up to become a man. The events never changed, but Tim’s erratic and selfish behaviour in the first book becomes heart-felt and desperate in this second instalment. Again I finished this book in one sitting, the story so familiar taking on a new meaning, moving the camera to a different position so that fateful love story could be viewed from both sides. Bells handling of the characters and the portrayal of events already written was entirely breathtaking, and Tim’s selfish spoilt persona was explained with deft art as we came to love the man who made all the mistakes in the book before. This book pushed past the limits of the last one, taking Ben and Tim on a further exploration of their life together, twelve years in the making, where the tragedy of loss seemed like Ben might not be able to handle another chance at a life with Tim. Bell doesn’t give his characters an easy ride. They are flawed and human and it’s what makes these books so special.
Something Like Autumn: After many a frantic google search, pining the end of SLW, I was overjoyed to see another season unfold under the masterful writing of Jay Bell. This latest instalment was written about the self assured saint Jace. It was my favourite instalment by far, Bell’s writing skill exceeding expectation as he took us through the life of a character that had been benched through the first two books. Jace’s character was incredible, his first love also never dying in his heart, a wild man he would never forget. The book struck through the trauma of his formative years as a gay man, painting the vivid picture of what shaped Jase to be the wonderful man he became in the earlier books. It was brilliant to see the story come full circle for Jase, with the book rounding up on his life with Ben, with Tim, all the while with the ghost of Victor watching over him. I cried a lot.
So there you have it, from what started to look like your typical coming of age gay fable, sprung a masterpiece of epic proportions. Bell writes from the heart, a heart so big in fact that it provides a home for some of the most fantastic characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The cycle doesn’t end there. There are four seasons after all, and Spring is on the rise. If you haven’t already discovered Jay Bell, then you can head to his website and check out all the gossip on the man behind the books here: http://www.jaybellbooks.com/ including a recent post that divulges all he is willing about the upcoming Something Like Spring that he predicts will be out for release this winter.
You can also follow Jay Bell on Twitter: @JayBellBooks
Summer is nearly over, so why not make it last a little longer? Head over to Amazon now and pick up your copies of the Something Like Series, you will not be disappointed.