Sometimes there is a very fine dividing line between fact and fiction.
Named after the main character in his mother’s infamous Oliver novels, Ollie’s been fighting his fictional namesake his whole life. It’s a battle for identity he is slowly and inevitably losing. Ex-army PTI, Tom knows all about battles–the real ones that break soldiers. When he volunteers to help with the Oliver situation, Ollie hears more in the offer than Tom apparently intends, for Tom quickly informs Ollie that he’s married. Which is absolutely fine, because Ollie isn’t gay–that’s Oliver. Tom and Ollie discover fairly swiftly that there is often a very fine dividing line between fact and fiction.
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+
217 e-book pages
January 23-25, 2016
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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I don’t have a problem saying I was hesitant about reading this book. John Wiltshire is a new-to-me author, and that’s always a tiny bit nerve-wracking. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE finding an author I’ve never read and enjoying their work. But, it’s always a crapshoot. And it makes me nervous.
This? My mind is bent. It has been twisted into new and–what I thought–impossible shapes by this story.
So, Ollie/Oliver/Ollie Always is a thoroughly lost soul with too much privilege to see a clear path (rich, trust-fund kid, over educated, never had to work, etc., etc., and etc.).
His mother reads as a sociopath the likes of Mommy Dearest without the no more wire hangers incident.
But she invoked a different concept of the closet for me in this book….
Ollie’s denial of being gay because it’s what his mother wants him to be.
One more time. Lemme rearrange the words and change them up a little. We’ll see if that helps.
His mother wants him to be gay; therefore he feels he must rail against it and simmer away in denial and self-loathing.
Well, if that ain’t a newfangled twist in Romance Land…
Mommy Dearest shapes Ollies world by a successful career of writing a series of books based on a fictional character of the same name. Their lives are so parallel the real Ollie has a hard time knowing what’s real and admitting/owning who he really is.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Real Ollie, or fictional Oliver. Who did what? Which memories are true? Which ones belong to fake Oliver?
What is pure fiction versus engineered reality versus authentic reality?
How does a person figure out who they are in this world with that kind of Truman Show bullshit?
It doesn’t help that mother’s elitist acolytes are just as indulgent to her whims and so absorbed with keeping their noses firmly planted up her arse they can’t be bothered to know the real Ollie.
Kiss, kiss. A treat, as always, to see you darling.
It also doesn’t help that mother’s books are so popular that nearly everyone Ollie meets seems to know him. Oliver. The fiction one.
And how many times do you have to hear a thing before it becomes your reality?
Tom, the love-interest. I liked him perfectly well and can’t think of a better counter-point to the utterly lost Ollie.
But brew another cuppa tea and have another biscuit becuase Tom’s got a past and secrets, too. Oh yeah, he does.
My only slightly mild grumble is that it felt as though these guys fell into their *thing* way too quickly…a matter of days, to be precise. Then there was so much of the back and forth with the denials, supplication, and miscommunication, then a long stretch of time where they were apart.
Things happen and the truth reshapes during their separation. Time marches on, waits for no man, and all that jazz.
But! I can’t really complain about that a whole lot. There were twists and turns I didn’t see coming that did a fine job of broadening my understanding of how all of theses pieces were coming together.
This was not an easy happliy ever after for these heroes.
And that’s the kind of story that gives me immense satisfaction.
The writing was fluid and sublime with dashes of British humor that crept up with perfect timing, garnering chuckles that felt inappropriate and cleansing at the same time. I’ve got scads of passages highlighted simply becuase they were amusing.
Conclusion: I enjoyed this, far more that I thought going in. A definite win.
This review also posted on GoodReads.