By Your Side

Willa Okati
By Your Side
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Loose Id
Release Date
November 2010
Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ

Seven years ago, during a sultry summer by a lake, Matthieu fell in love with a man fifteen years his junior. Intelligent, passionate and talented, Roman swore he wanted nothing more than to settle down with Matthieu for the rest of his life. Matthieu couldn't let that happen. The way he saw it, Roman had too much talent to waste with a small life and small dreams. He tried to do the right thing by severing all ties with the young man who commanded his passion, hoping that one day Roman would forgive and forget him.

That was never going to happen.

Roman has always known exactly who and what he wants -- who he loves. Now that he's found Matthieu again, Roman's willing to do anything it takes to prove it. He'll use his body, his music, and all his wiles to show the older man that their love is as real as their passion, and that they are meant to be together. Matthieu isn't easily convinced, but Roman isn't easily bested. He's never been good at taking "no" for an answer -- especially when he knows his partner well enough to be sure what he really wants to say is yes, yes, yes.

Book Review by DH Starr (author)
Apr 25, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
165 people found the following review helpful
Willa Okati is an author I came across when reading a compilation of three stories put together in the book Hearts From the Ashes. I had been following one of the authors who contributed to that book and lucked into Ms. Okati's story Café Noctem…another book you should read by this creative and talented author. I then read another book by Ms. Okati entitled Karma Chameleon and I was hooked. In reading BY YOUR SIDE, I feel I have come to understand some of the characteristics of Ms. Okati's writing that make her stories so enjoyable.

From the first page, I was drawn into the action. No words were wasted to bring the two heroes together. It only took a few pages for the conflict they would have to overcome to be revealed. Matthieu is a hard-working man with a great body, but a bit of a self-esteem problem. Roman, an eighteen-year-old musician and fifteen years his junior, is infatuated with Matthieu and they have a wonderful night of passion. Not wanting to stand in Roman's way, Matthieu leaves him and town during the night. When he leaves Roman behind, he is leaving a piece of himself behind as well.

Jump forward seven years and the story continues with Matthieu returning home to help his sister and brother-in-law with their store while his sister is mandated to bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. On the first day of work, Roman walks into the store and back into Matthieu's life. The once young and inexperienced boy of eighteen is now a grown man of twenty-five and his passion seems just as strong as it had seven years earlier. Now forty, Matthieu can't fathom why such a young man with a promising musical future would be interested in him. Despite attempts to thwart Roman's advances, the young man proves to have grown more stubborn and tenacious with his added years. You will need to read the book to find out how the story ends.

There were a number of things in this romantic tale that captured my interest and filled my mind with the sensory experiences of the characters. First and foremost, Ms. Okati's use of language, turns of phrase, and colloquialisms ground the characters as real and help the reader to feel like they have known these people, or people like them, their whole lives. Although seamless in the flow of the narrative, the language and words are chosen with precision and the result is a series of bright and vivid images.

Along with a brilliant use of language to evoke the most beautiful images, Ms. Okati's words also reveal great passion. As the characters act and interact, their feelings emerge gracefully from the page and the story becomes as much an exploration of human desire as it is a journey toward happiness and finding love. Even the sex scenes, which are interspersed with a perfect balance of story to intimacy, are written in such a way that the physical and emotional aspects of each sensation are clear to smell, feel, hear, and taste.

The story tightly revolves around the two heroes, Matthieu's sister, and his brother-in-law. As Matthieu and Roman take steps towards each other, readers get to reflect on the journeys they have taken and the thoughts and fears they have faced along the way. For a reader who needs an action-driven plot, this book may fall short of their expectations. If you are like me and love the tender dance of character-driven stories, this tale is one you must read.

My hat is tipped to Ms. Okati for providing me and others with such rich and diverse stories to enjoy. I look forward to reading many, many more of her works.
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