Adam’s about to discover how much drama a mid-life crisis can be. He’s obsessed with Mannix, the nude model in his art class. But Adam has been married to Wade for nearly two decades, and they don’t have an open relationship.
Little do they know that Fabien, a warlock from the Afterlife, has secretly cast a spell of lust on Adam and his potential toy-boy.
As things begin to heat up, Adam’s guardian angel, Guy, steps in. But what’s the best way to save the relationship? Should Guy subdue Adam’s wandering passions or instigate a steamy threesome?
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Ninestar Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 1
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay, Straight
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 3 Age: 36-45
Word Count: 62300
Setting: Sydney, Australia and the Carnival of Lost Souls in the Afterlife
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Excerpt One from Drama Queens and Adult Themes (Actors and Angels Series, Book Two):
He had the perfect vee-shaped torso. The kind that would turn on a dozen potential lovers if he wandered into a gay bar. And while his faultless crew cut was artificially red, his other natural features were as intense as James Dean’s. I could go riding in his sports car, feeling the breeze as we headed to Lover’s Lane. He’d admire me with his penetrating eyes before undressing me for a lovemaking session so powerful, not even a night with a handpicked selection of porn stars would compare.
But unlike anyone I’d ever met, he was blessed with soft charcoal-colored wings. This was Guy’s boyfriend, Joshua. I was back at that thespian drinking haven, the Pedestal, at some stage between going to bed and waking up the next morning.READ MORE
I tried not to drool at this bad boy, while picturing myself taking off his well-fitted leather jacket, slowly. I wanted to let out an orgasmic moan, before any foreplay had begun.
“I think you need to sleep with Mannix,” he said. He sipped on a Bloody Mary.
“Joshua!” his loving partner reprimanded.
“Joshua, we tried,” I said.
“And what happened, sweetheart?”
“He freaked out. He gives us all the signals and then runs off in terror.”
“Tsk, tsk. Now why would he do that? You’re not exactly on the ugly scale.”
“Thanks,” I replied. “I think.”
“Joshua, that’s not the issue here,” Guy said. “I’ve been watching over them, and they’re getting obsessed with Mannix. And just as odd, Mannix is obsessed with them. It doesn’t make sense.”
“What’s there to make sense of, Petal? They’re grown men looking for a bit of spice. This Mannix dude is the spice. Supply and demand. No problem.”
“But Guy has a point,” I said. “This is doing my head in. One minute, Wade and I are respectable grown men, the next we’re one step away from toupees and face-lifts.”
“And is this causing you two to argue? Fight? Split up?”
I picked up my cocktail, resting the top of the glass on my lower lip before sipping slowly.
“Joshua, it’s still causing drama,” continued Guy. “Adam and Wade have their heads in no-man’s land, and Mannix is just as bemused.”
“Oh my darlings, they’re men. Adult men. Every one of them. That which doesn’t kill them, will make them stronger. Or separated but I can’t see any hint of that. Can you, Adam?” I nodded tensely. “There, you see, Guy? It might be causing a bit of grief, but in the end, they’re men. Once they stop questioning it with their emotions, they’ll solve it physically and wonder why they didn’t get down and dirty sooner.”
I sat with the two angels, none-the-wiser. That dark-skinned woman was back on stage. Sultry jazz was her genre of choice today, and her small ensemble cruised into mellow tones that could set you adrift on a small boat. As she crooned the first lines of “Someone To Watch Over Me”, Guy sang the words with her under his breath.
Around me, the mismatched furniture complemented the mismatched cast. A lone African woman, wearing more colors than a peacock’s tail, stood transfixed as if the singer was secretly robbing her soul. Her fingers tapped on an imaginary piano, and her wide-eyed stare gave me goose bumps.
An old lady, dressed in clothes her own granddaughter would wear, clutched her wine glass like it was a precious jewel. At the same time, she gazed into the eyes of a mature athletic man who looked like he once had a passion for ballet dancing. Their loving gaze reminded me of the way Wade sometimes looked at me.
“So, Joshua, you think we’re making too much of a big deal about this?”
He rubbed the tip of his sculptured jawline as Guy casually leaned toward him. “Adam, darling, there are men who put themselves through hell and back trying to do the right thing. They won’t act until they work out all the final consequences. And let’s face it, as much pontificating as humanly possible is not ever going to let you know the final outcome, really! And there are men who are a lot more spirited and take life as a challenge. Go forth and take the risk and see where it leads you.”
“Joshua, Adam understands that,” Guy said. “But there’s Wade to consider. What if their marriage falls apart?”
“Darling, seriously. From what you’ve told me, they’re not going to fall apart. It’s all just a bit of fun. Mannix is a new appliance, like a fridge or a vibrator. Something that has a use. And think, Adam. Think of the uses you can come up with, with your new appliance.”
Excerpt Two from Drama Queens and Adult Themes (Actors and Angels Series, Book Two):
“My darlings, listen to yourselves. You are one of the most ‘together’ couples I know, gay or straight. But all it takes is this little play-bunny to enter your lives and you both act like Pepé Le Pew pining after what you can’t have!”
This was the most stern she had ever been with us. She loved us to death so I guess we were the last people on earth she wanted to see hoodwinked by some wholesome-acting vixen.
Our friendship with Maude was based on openness from day one. She cast us in a play she was work-shopping at the theater group, and we were instantly drawn to her unapologetic spinster status. She took one day at a time, appreciating her posse, never wanting to complicate her life with just one companion. Wade seemed to study her like a poker player weighing up his next move.
“I love you, Maude, but trust us, you’ve got the situation wrong.”
“Have I, Wade? You still know little about him.”
“We’ve met up with him a couple times.”
“And tell me, boys, has there been any flirting?” We didn’t answer. “I rest my case.” She opened the pantry door where she’d stashed more bottles of red. “I think it will take another few glasses for me to talk sense into you.”
Before any debate could be entered into, she unscrewed the top and poured. Although Wade expressed concern about driving home inebriated, I welcomed the top-up, even if it was close to midnight with a work day ahead. The crisp raspberry-like scent enticed our palettes.
“Right, my sweethearts, a little perspective. After you met him, Adam, when did you next catch up?”
“We went for a drink that night.”
“All three of you?”
“No,” replied Wade. “I was at dance class.”
“Uh-huh. You chat. You like each other. Then who contacts who?”
“We invite him around for dinner,” I answered.
“Pretty quiet,” said Wade. “We had dinner, chilled out, then he had to go home to his flatmate as something was wrong.”
“Uh-huh. What happened?” Again, we didn’t answer. “You actually don’t know, do you? You never thought to ask. Are you actually sure this guy has a flatmate, or is it a boyfriend?”
I searched my wine glass for an answer. No mystic visions appeared. Now I knew I was tipsy. Thankfully, Wade was my designated driver.
“And do you get the feeling he might be interested in one of you, more than the other?”
“Oh definitely not,” Wade said. Like me, he also studied his glass for an answer. “He’s taken an interest in both of us, and yes, now that I hear myself say it, it is a bit bizarre, but trust me, Maude, there is no ulterior motive.”
“Maude,” I added, “I appreciate your concern, but trust us, there’s nothing sinister going on here. Just a bit of mutual infatuation, nothing more, nothing less. We’re grown men. We’re not about to do anything foolish.”
“Adam, we’ve all witnessed too many couples split up when a touch of spice was added, as you know. I’m determined not to see the same thing happen to my closest buddies. Besides, the politics of who to invite to what occasion is something I don’t want to go through again.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I added, “but… “
“Remember when I told you about the time I accompanied Jean and Simon to the circus and witnessed the trapeze artist flirt with Simon. They ended up running away together to live on a farm, while Jean took on the arduous hobby of stalking. First the letters, then the phone calls, followed by those crazy ticking gifts. I don’t want to be meat in the sandwich again, and I’m determined not to see my boys split up.”COLLAPSE
The Reading Addict on The Reading Addict wrote:
On one level, this is a simple story of a midlife gay couple who consider inviting a young nude model into their relationship. On another level, this is a story about the interactions between humans and the divine realm and a collection of philosophical musings on love, sex, and monogamy in gay relationships.
As complicated as the many entangled plot threads in this story become, the book remains light and witty at its heart. Adam and Wade fulfill every stereotype of midlife long-term partners. From theatre to art to a shared love of red wine, these two are instantly familiar and often more representative of a character type than characters who feel fully human. Similarly, Mannix is pretty, slightly aimless, and flattered by the older men’s obsequious attention.
There are some tender moments between Wade and Adam and Adam does some intense soul searching, but I most enjoyed the more comical, almost slapstick moments here. From amateur dramatics gone wrong to art class embarrassments, this book is laugh out loud funny. I loved the meddling angels, demons, and others.
I enjoyed some of the ideas about love and relationships. I did find it a little bit odd that a book about a divinely inspired gay threesome didn’t really have any sex on page. This is a story about sex and love with a charming ‘fade to grey’ PG13 parental advisory warning.
Moving between characters, worlds, and scenes at a breakneck pace, I found the plot to this story a little bit difficult to keep straight in my head. I know that this is the second book in the series and I’m guessing that I would have had a better time keeping characters and worlds straight if I’d started at the beginning. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this unusual story.
Ulysses Dietz on Prism Book Alliance wrote:
Drama Queens and Adult Themes by Kevin Klehr is the sequel to Drama Queens with Love Scenes and has many of the same characters in one incarnation or another.
This whimsical m/m story is a multi-layered fantasy tale that also has a play within a play structure that involves a pair of lovers, Wade and Adam, who have finally settled into a committed relationship which threatens to unravel due to their attraction to a younger man, Mannix. Unfortunately, a trio including a pair of warlocks named Ipan and Fabien, and a witch named Farah are monitoring (and interfering with) the lives of these men, so it's a good thing an angel named Guy is looking out for them, but it may be difficult to balance fate and manipulation and find a happy medium for all players concerned.
This thought-provoking tale is integrally related to the first book and is definitely unlike the majority of m/m books that I have read. My best analogy would be the sensation of funhouse mirrors where art imitates life imitates art, since the plays and the action bounce back and forth and the characters shift from the roles they are playing to being the center of the action.
One thing that reflects this can be seen in the quote, "Suddenly, I'm this empty canvas with someone else writing my story. ...The script is half-written. What happens now depends on how you react to the main scenes." There are lovely vivid images evoked in the story (e.g. "The endless field we stood on was flourishing with daisies, yet they looked ill in color. A doctor would have ordered them to lie down and rest.") but be forewarned, a very large diagram may be required to approximate the intricate relationships and it may be unreadable by the time all of the connections are included. I suggest that this story would be best appreciated if the previous one has been read, and that one be a fan of existentialism and fantasy.
Afterlife. Reincarnation. Romantic fate. Drama queens. All these are themes that recur in Aussie Kevin Klehr’s sequel to his debut novel, “Drama Queens and Love Themes.”
I called his first book an existentialist tragi-comic gay romance, and I’d say this follows in that mold—although because of the many differences it took me a while to remember the first book and to see where this one fit in.
I confess I don’t love Klehr’s choice of titles, although I suspect what he’s using them for is to link the presence of theater—plays being cast and rehearsed and performed—as part of the overall action and metaphor for the stories. In spite of the linked narratives, this book can be read independently of the first one. The story of Adam and Wade and Mannix is compelling enough to hold one’s attention.
Unlike the first book, “Drama Queens and Adult Themes” involves inter-world interference. Fabien, a wizard in the afterlife, is bored, and decides to meddle (like the gods in ancient mythology) in the lives of a long-term, forty-something gay couple. Ipan, another denizen of the afterlife, tries to intercede, appalled at the idea that Fabien is so selfish and cruel that he would ruin a happy life for his own amusement. Farah, the two wizards’ mutual friend, joins the party, and interjects her own spice to the argument.
Then we have Guy, the angel who has been charged with guarding Adam since childhood. He long ago broke the rules to make himself known to Adam, but after many years of being good, intercedes again because of the meddling he sees.
Got it? No? Well, you sort of have to be there.
What the overarching thesis of this fantasy seems at first to be is the ongoing conversation over whether monogamy and fidelity is appropriate for gay men. The “being gay is being free” argument suggests one thing, while the “soulmate” argument tips in another direction. At first I wasn’t sure where Klehr was going with this; but eventually he tips his hand and one understands whence he is coming. It is not exactly what I expected, but ultimately this story offers a powerful love song for readers willing to listen.
Adam is the crucial player in this piece, and it is his life and his backstory that echoes throughout the drama. Wade, his love of many years, is less clearly painted for us, while Mannix, the third wheel who complicates the plot, is never more than a bit of visual poetry with a generous heart. But none of this is accidental, and having patience with Klehr’s quirky style (and insistent misuse of the pronoun “I”) pays off in the end.
If you like this sort of thing.
This is not a conventional romance. Nor is it a politically correct polemic on the nature of gay relationships. It is something quite distinctive, and I found myself pausing as I read, thinking back over my own long lifetime as a gay man in a rapidly shifting world.