A New Normal

William Neale
A New Normal
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MLR Press
Release Date
May 2011
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

Former Marine Corps Major Jake Vincenzo had a plan. He was convinced that his son Mark and his long-time best friend Cade were in love but just didn't know it. Forced for years to hide his own gayness, Jake had kept a secret getaway -- a remote mountain cabin -- where he now intended to play matchmaker for the two nineteen year-olds. What he didn't count on was falling in love with Cade. How will the three navigate the minefields of potential hurt, jealousy and even betrayal? How will father and son maintain their close relationship without viewing each other as rivals? And how will Cade reconcile falling in love with the two most important men in his life against the backdrop of a disapproving family? For each, it means redefining normal. It means finding a new normal.

Book Review by Jenn Shanks Pray
Aug 26, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
196 people found the following review helpful
I still heartily maintain that William Neale writes comfort food for the romantic soul. His stories hit the ground running and build, layer by layer, the most emotionally satisfying creations. Defying conventional norms, A NEW NORMAL takes the opportunity to define just that – a modern interpretation on an age-old desire, the ever present want to love and be loved in return.

Major Jake Vincenzo knows a thing or two about life: the mistakes, secrets and compromises one makes along the road to maturity. Suspecting his son, Mark, is about to make the same mistakes he made, Jake promises to take him and his best friend, Cade, on a graduation camping trip in the hopes that they will confront their feelings for one another. Unfortunately, Jake is forced to renege when Mark flunks History. He decides to go ahead and take Cade anyway to teach Mark about consequences.

One of the unexpected consequences of the trip was the bond developed between Jake and Cade, who develop feelings for one another through shared confidences. When Mark finally shows up, he is quite surprised and overwhelmed by the closeness that has grown between his father and his best friend. Jake decides to extricate himself to allow the boys to work on coming to terms with their evolving relationship. A NEW NORMAL poses the age-old question: If friends become lovers, will the friendship survive?

Mr Neale generates strong and relatable characters. The relationship between the three men is fun, sexy and touching. That the author allows the reader to glimpse the soul searching all three undergo gives a deeper understanding and makes the piece that much more powerful. Empathizing with these men who have to negotiate their own personal fears, family influences and society at large, all while trying to navigate the course of what the readers know to be a true romance makes the story captivating. Far from formulaic, this well written love story provides the reader with a beautiful coming of age story full of emotion, sexual heat and more than a large slice of reality. Well worth the read, A NEW NORMAL hits the mark and cements this author on the Auto-Buy list for this reviewer!
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Book Review by Tyra Berger
Aug 31, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
183 people found the following review helpful
I am a fan of Mr. Neale and his book, Home, was one of my favorite books for 2010, well his latest book is in my top 5 for this year. He has become an auto-buy author for me because he writes fabulous characters from the point of view of a true romantic.

Major Jake Vincenzo promised his son and his son's best friend that he would take them camping for two weeks this summer to celebrate their high school graduation. One problem...his son failed History and has to take summer school to get his diploma. To teach Mark a lesson in responsibility, Jake takes Cade on the trip while Mark is left at home to deal with the consequences of not passing his class.

Jake has suspected for some time that Mark and Cade are in love with each other and he is hoping to take their time away as an opportunity to encourage them to admit to themselves and to each other how they feel. Jake knows what it is like to deny your true feelings and doesn't want his son and Cade to miss out.

During those first two weeks, Jake and Cade become close, and Cade confides in Jake his thoughts about his sexual orientation and his concerns for the future. Being the only child of older, devout parents, Cade is afraid of what will happen when he tells them that not only is he gay but he really doesn't want to become a CPA and take over his father's business.

When those first two weeks are up and Mark is able to join them, he has some confessions of his own and is surprised and concerned at how close his father and Cade have become. While the two boys work on trying to figure out their relationship, a misunderstanding could end it and possibly cost them the future they are trying to plan.

This book for me was completely un-put-downable. I fell into this story and very quickly became invested in not only Cade and Mark's life but Jake's as well. While the first chapter is a bit weighed down with back story, once past that, the story takes off and never slows down.

Some of the dialogue seemed a little "old" for two 19 year old's but in no way did that take away from the story line. I wish that every teenager out there struggling with their identity could have a Jake in their life to tell them it's OK.

Mr. Neale is very good at showing instead of telling a story and has the ability to make me feel like his characters are old friends by the time I am done with the book. If you are looking for a great coming of age story look no further than A NEW NORMAL.
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