Actors and Angels Book 1
Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.
Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.
Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Ninestar Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay, Straight
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Word Count: 70,000ish
Setting: The Theatre District of the Afterlife
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Guy was still dragging me along the streets of the Limelight Quarter. The crisp night air was reviving my spirits, albeit through my drunken stupor. Many colorful folk whisked past, some briefly staring at us as they made their way.
“You realize Pedro will be there,” I said.
“That’s why we’re going to call Warwick to come downstairs. You need to talk privately.”
We arrived outside of their balcony. I rubbed my arms to keep warm as Guy placed his hand on my shoulder.
“Warwick!” I yelled. “Are you there?”
There was no answer. A couple adorned in bohemian black, stopped in their tracks the moment I shouted to my ex-lover.
“Broken heart,” whispered Guy to the interested onlookers.
“I understand,” replied the woman. She looked up to her man. “Poor thing.”
“Go on, Allan, call out again.”READ MORE
“Warwick! Warwick! I love you.” My voice echoed from the building as I looked to my angel friend. He nodded and caressed my shoulder. The couple nodded as well. “Warwick, are you home? I need to talk to you. Will you come down, please?”
“Keep going, Allan.”
“I really need to talk to you. I have so much more to say to you. I should never have let you walk out of my door the other night. I’ve wanted to talk to you so many times during the last few days, but there’s nowhere private at the theater. Plus I’d probably break down, which is not a good look when you’re wearing white grease paint.”
A few onlookers came out from their balconies. I glanced at Guy who was joined by a small audience. Some parents had let their kids stay up well after bedtime, and their freckled little girl was giggling at me. Her mother shushed her so she sat on the ground, sulking.
“Don’t worry about it, Allan. Just go on.”
“Yes, we’re right behind you,” said an elderly lady with bad teeth. “You make him listen.”
“Warwick, I love you, and I know you love me. You told me so. You said you’ve been waiting all year for me to make a move, and as you know, I’ve been waiting for you to make that move too.”
“You tell him, love!” interrupted the old woman.
My support team began to chant Warwick’s name. I was empowered. I encouraged them to clap their hands in time. They did. There was about ten of them now, and their support gave me a warm glow in that frosty breeze. However, Guy looked worried.
“Allan, shouldn’t you wait until he comes downstairs?”
“My dear friend, Warwick is a coward. I know he’s up there, but he’s too scared to come down because he doesn’t want to hurt that imbecile’s feelings. The very imbecile who tried to hurt me physically during his dumb-arsed play!”
“No one should ever break your heart,” alleged a handsome older gent behind me.
“Thank you.” I turned back to address my ex-lover. “Now listen here, Warwick! You told me that you’d been waiting for me to make a move. I did. We made love over and over under that so-called playwright’s nose. And what happens when the going gets good? You freak out. What the hell for? Was the sex that bad that you preferred old teensy-dick instead? Was it all getting too intense for you? Is that the reason?” The crowd became quiet as I felt the bitter cold again. “Were you too scared of being in love? Too much intimacy for your murky heart to deal with? Too much real emotion for your juvenile soul to cope with? Too much effort to be in love with someone who’s madly, deeply in love with you? Too much…” I shuddered. “Too much…”
Guy grabbed me from behind as I felt my legs give way. He eased me to the footpath and shielded me with his wings. I howled, before tears streamed down my face.
“It’s okay, Allan,” said the angel. “This is a big step for you.”
“He doesn’t love me, Guy. He doesn’t love me the way I love him.”
“I don’t think that’s true.”
I began whimpering like a child being punished.COLLAPSE
‘Nathan Burgoine (author) on Chelsea Station wrote:
At first I didn’t think I was going to like this book. It is not one of those books that hooks you on page 1, or even page 20, but hold on….it gets better. I came close to putting it down and trying again later, but I persevered and suddenly I realized I liked the story and before I knew it I was at the end of the book. If I hadn’t kept reading I would have missed lines like “I could have worn lederhosen and masturbated, he wouldn’t have noticed.” That line sticks in my head because I can honestly say I’d never once in my life pictured some dude in lederhosen masturbating…now it is stuck there!
On to the story. We start out with Allan and Warwick arriving in a room that is heavily overdone with red velvet curtains, caramel marble arches, a black and white tiled floor and a huge Liberace style crystal chandelier (my gay decorator genes were cringing.) They have no idea how they got there. Samantha, an overdressed 1950’s Jayne Mansfield wanna-be, without the attributes, and Guy, a barefoot male angel in old blue jeans and a ripped sleeved khaki shirt, are there to greet them. From there, the greeters take them to a bar (of course?) for cocktails. There they meet Pedro. Somehow the newly dead Warwick is swept away by Pedro and goes home with him. Allan has just finished telling Guy that all he remembers from life is that he had strong feelings for Warwick that he doesn’t think he ever expressed before they died.
What follows is a post-death romp complete with a lot of drinking, acting (some of it really bad), sex (some of it with an angel), bad folks, good folks and even a fortune teller. The afterlife doesn’t look anything like what Allan and Warwick had expected, and I don’t blame them. Drama queens and backstabbing? Where are the pearly gates and harps? At least there is a sexy angel!
Eventually Allen starts regaining his memories of his life. How can he go about gaining Warwick’s love? How did they die? What happens next? All answers you will have to get by reading the book yourself. I recommend the book to anyone who has the perseverance to hold on long enough to get to know the characters. You will enjoy the read.
Ulysses Dietz on Prism Book Alliance wrote:
I’m a sucker for a second chance. There’s something so engaging about a character who has missed an opportunity or made a mistake and is now facing the consequences and deciding to take one more shot at making things right. I admit my love of “never too late” knowing full well it reveals me as a romantic and a optimist, despite how much cynical sarcasm I might let loose on an average day. It’s refreshing and restorative to read about love that makes it against all odds. There’s nothing better than love that never says die.
Or, well, actually...
Death is actually the beginning. Drama Queens with Love Scenes opens with the death of our hero, Allan, and his friend, Warwick. They arrive in a heaven that seems perfect for them--it’s an afterlife of theatre, complete with artists, writers, directors, critics, and even glossy gossip magazines. The past and present (and even future) worlds of theatre all combine in an afterlife that welcomes the two new men with open arms... and maybe one or two knives in the back.
It’s hard enough being dead. It’s even harder when you’re carrying a crush on your lifelong friend, the one you’ve just realized you waited too long to do anything about. For Allen, dying isn’t half as terrifying as the thought of not being with Warwick, but not soon after their arrival into the afterlife, Warwick seems to be moving on. While the dramas of this timeless theatre district unfold (every night is opening night for someone, and every play might just be the next big thing), Allan’s own struggle for love might get lost in an exit.
But in a theatre heaven there’s always time for another act.
Kevin Klehr has crafted a wonderful new world for these characters--a glittery, fabulous, and just a little bit catty eternity that lends itself to the seeds of theatre pop culture, history, and themes he weaves into the narrative. More, the supporting cast are a thoroughly rich group, including an angel who has yet to figure out flying, a dame from the golden age of theatre, and even someone who is from what would be Allan’s future. The drinks are downed, the music moves through eras of jazz, and performances glow--or flop--with ease. It’s a mix that works, and brings all the right traces of Noises Off to the narrative. That isn’t to say Drama Queens is a farce--it’s not--but there’s plenty of humour to be had among the potential heartbreak and genuinely knotted tangle of characters attempting to send Allan awry.
Readers will also appreciate a dose of something not typically North American to the tone. Though set in the afterlife, there’s a healthy dollop of Australia to Drama Queens, another way that the already bright story feels fresh. It was a pleasure to escape into Klehr’s world, and I look forward to reading more from him with the upcoming Drama Queens with Adult Themes.
Allan and Warwick are best friends. In fact, Allan is pretty sure he’s in love with Warwick. Allan’s uncle surely seems to think so.
Trouble is, they appear to be dead.
Kevin Klehr’s debut novel kept me a little confused at first. The tone of the writing seemed somehow…off. I couldn’t quite roll with it. However, as I got to know the protagonists, Allan and Warwick (who are, by the way, Australian, as is the author), the consistency of this odd tone allowed me to settle in and just embrace the book’s quirky style. There is an underlying camp quality to Klehr’s writing that, as I acclimated to it, became part of the surrealism of the setting. Magical realism isn’t something I’ve read a lot of, and I think that term best describes the overall manner of this quirky, interesting novel.
The closest equivalent I have experienced is the 1991 film Defending your Life, with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep. I can’t remember reading any novel, and for sure not a gay novel, that dealt with this topic in this way. In the end, Klehr’s novel moved me in much the same way that Brook’s film did.
The “drama queens” in the title shouldn’t let one think this isn’t a serious book. There is a certain farcical aspect to the plot—a series plays within a play, all involving the various characters who befriend our puzzled protagonists in the afterlife. Both Warwick and Allan were wannabe actors in life, and this fact is at the core of their existential destiny.
I don’t want to reveal too much about who these supporting characters are, because those revelations are part of the pleasure in discovering the oddball world that Klehr has created. I will say, because we meet him right away, that there is a beautiful gay angel named Guy. Who can’t fly. I really loved him; he becomes the emotional lynchpin of the book.
Something that makes me fond of Drama Queens with Love Scenes is that it flouts m/m convention throughout. It is clearly a love story, but it is not the sort of highly choreographed plotline that the m/m market seems to want. It is a messy plot, and perhaps at times a little too messy. The denouement took me by surprise, and left me a little rattled; but that’s existentialism for you.
Klehr thanks his editor in his foreword, but I’d have to gently suggest some more careful editing next time around. Mostly it was fine, but there were some weird errors that threw off my concentration, and in a delicately structured narrative like this, it is especially unfortunate.
In the author’s after-notes, Klehr says that he’s working on the sequel. I’m not sure how one would follow this story, but I’d appreciate the opportunity to find out. As much as I resisted at first, I ultimately fell in love with the premise and the people; I’d like to find out more about where they go next.
Keep on writing, Kevin. We’re waiting.