IN ANOTHER LIFE
At age eighteen, Shiloh Raben is tired. He no longer has the energy to deal with mean classmates, inner doubt, and fear of familial rejection, so he takes a razor to his wrist. When he wakes up in the hospital, Shiloh meets Travis Kahn, the EMT who saved him and didn’t leave his side.
Travis is handsome, smart, and funny—the type of guy Shiloh would never be brave enough to approach. But his near-death experience has an unusual side effect: the life that flashed before his eyes wasn’t the one he had already lived, but rather the one he could live. With visions of a future by Travis’s side, Shiloh will find the strength to confront his fears and build a life worth fighting for.
Childhood family friends, Maccabe Fried and Josh Segal have always gotten along despite having nothing in common. Maccabe is an athlete with dreams of playing professional baseball. Josh is an aspiring architect with dreams of being with Maccabe. Despite all odds, both dreams come true.
Maccabe and Josh fall into a long-distance romance, which is everything Josh thought he wanted. But after years of hiding from the world, Josh wants to bring their relationship into the open. When Maccabe refuses, Josh is faced with a tough decision: stay with the man he loves or live the life he deserves. No matter the choice, somebody’s bound to get hurt. Thankfully, in the season of miracles, there’s always hope for a happy ending.
These two novellas are unlike any of CC’s work that I have read before. I spent a good amount of time laughing while reading both of these stories. So not only did I get treated to the expected combination of sweet romance, sexy men, and smoldering sex scenes, but I also got to laugh.
In Another Life was an extremely touching tale about the extremes to which bigotry and bullying can drive a teen. When Shiloh decides he can no longer deal with life stretching before him as a gay man, he attempts to commit suicide. In what I found to be a rather original way to approach the act, the author gives Shiloh a glimpse into the life he would be missing out on – particularly the love of a good man. Fortunately for all involved, Shiloh’s parents find him in time to save his life. The twist to Shiloh’s story is that he meets the man his future showed him long before he was supposed to in his deathbed visions. Because Shiloh feels as though he’s been gifted with a bit of inside information, he sheds his
normal shyness and sets out to make Travis his in the here and now and takes the steps needed to insure that their future is a long one. Despite the gravity of the subject of suicide, CC writes the romance in such a way that I fell in love with both men and was left feeling hopeful for their future.
Eight Days is kind of a tale of unrequited love between childhood friends. Told over the span of a couple of decades, we accompany Maccabe as he comes to terms with how he feels about his childhood friend Josh – from the first time he becomes aware of Josh in a sexual manner, to losing Josh, to learning the exact extent by which he lost Josh, and to reclaiming Josh. What I found truly endearing about this particular story is that although Maccabe hurts Josh emotionally, he does so without malice or awareness and I found myself unable to dislike him for his careless treatment of Josh. Maccabe was so focused on his career that he was unaware of the damage he was inflicting with his choices. Could he have done more after his falling out with Josh? Almost certainly. Did he do what he needed to when all the facts came to light? Without hesitation. And THAT was why I fell in love with Maccabe – Josh was a given, but Maccabe had to earn it and he did.
I don’t read many holiday-themed books, but In Another Life and Eight Days have made that very short list as rereads. Again CC has left me with an aching face from smiling so much while reading, but the added laughter was a definite balm to the heart. And I leave you with my favorite laugh inducing lines from each novella.
“You have a voice for print.” I gasped – Shiloh to Travis, regarding Travis’s singing
“You’re the only person that’s ever meant more to me than a screw, not that screwing you isn’t great too. So I guess I’m Josh-sexual, but if you want me to say I’m gay, I’ll say it.” –
Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.
Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”