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To the Max - Julie Lynn Hayes

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Genre: Romance / Author: Julie Lynn Hayes / Paperback / 354 Pages / Book is published 2010-03-26 by Dreamspinner Press

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      16.06.2011 22:49
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      Max is not as average as he seems.

      Meet Maximillian Jean-Baptiste Montague. He's a really laid back kinda guy who lives a small town life. He owns a little house on the outskirts of town and writes a column for the local newspaper, To the Max, which is an agony aunt sort of affair for the romantically challenged. His mother also lives in town and they have frequent visits. This may sound like a pretty ordinary and rather uneventful life, and to those on the outside it almost certainly appears that way. But those who really know Max know the truth. Firstly, Max is an honest to goodness werewolf. He's the first to admit he's not an alpha male of the species though, and his long time live in lover Richard could no doubt attest to his non aggressive nature being genuine. Secondly, there is the issue of Richard. Not the "his lover is another guy issue" but the more mundane seeming one of Richard disappearing for days at a time without explanation. Thirdly, there is his mother. Who'd have thought that their own mother would be okay with you being a werewolf but not with being gay? She keeps setting him up for meetings with eligible women, and if that's not bad enough, she's now also dating some creepy minister of a local church who has encouraged his mother in her "gay curing" activities. Even worse, one of his former "would be girlfriends" has shown back up in town, dragging her too suave nephew Morgan along. And Morgan seems to be making a play for Richard! It's enough to make even a passive werewolf howl!

      Julie Lynn Haye's novel is a refreshing take on the shape-shifter romance. There's no inner musings about the need to find a mate, running through the woods in wolf shape, the urge to hunt, etc. Instead she focuses on Max the person, who just happens to be a werewolf and so has a few "inconveniences" that arise from his lycanthropy. The lycanthropy has shaped how Max grew up and perceived those around him, as his special circumstances caused his single parent mother to adjust certain aspects of her child rearing routine to accommodate the whole full moon "thing" and help Max keep his nature hidden. This in turn has impacted how Max deals with people and their personal acceptance of himself, which as a gay man in particular, can have profound consequences.

      It's as much a story about a seemingly ordinary man in small town Missouri gaining the acceptance of his family, friends, and neighbours as an openly gay man as it is about staying in the closet...the Lycanthrope one that is. Boyfriend Richard makes this especially hard, as he keeps flitting in and out, adding to the instability of Max's world during a time when he needs it the most. With the arrival of Morgan, Max's insecurities begin to really play up, and admittedly I could understand Max' s doubts as Richard gives out very mixed signals. Leaving without so much as a bye your leave, and breezing back in, then playing the faithful lover while hosting a BBQ and attending church with Max, Max's mother and sister to listen to the preacher boyfriend's homophobic sermon and then taking a very public stand about it, it's all very swings and round abouts. Very amusing swings and round abouts mind, as it's all told from Max's laid back point of view and his inner voice is rather tongue and cheek. Truth be told, Max reminded me more of a cheeky tail wagging collie than a wolf!

      Max's mother one expects to dislike, but can't. She really loves her son, and she means well. She doesn't badmouth Richard or say cruel things about gays either. She simply thinks that Max should find a wife and give her grandchildren, and so keeps half heartedly matchmaking to that end. The preacher boyfriend is another matter entirely. I found him to be odious (as does Max) and this was before he even began his gay bashing spiel. He's sadly a composite of many evangelicals I have met during my years in the States, and quite pompous to boot. I was very happy to see that Max and Richard came out on top in regards to him, though I'll spare the details of the how as it makes for a delicious twist in the tale. The "not actually an ex" who is obviously still angling for him and her nephew Morgan add a nice seeming diversion, seeming to exist just to frustrate Max and complicate things with Richard. If only it were that simple, though, as Max discovers people's motives may not be as simple as they seem and that his being a Lycanthrope may not be as under wraps as he thought!

      It all makes for a delightful romantic romp filled with a bit of intrigue, and the way the supernatural element was handled was the icing on the cake. If you've never read a male x male romance before, this would be a good place to start, as it is written along the lines of a traditional rom com that just happens to feature a gay werewolf and his boyfriend Richard. There's nothing unexpectedly shocking for the wary, unless you count the happy surprise at the end for Max. It shocked him anyway (in a good way). It's available as a paperback under the Dreamspinner Press imprint or as a Kindle edition (about half the price of the print edition, so good value).

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