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What if a single kiss can determine lifelong enchantment, then imagine going on that adventure with possibilities leading to truelove?
Every day can be a kissing event. Race Palmer, the over sexual philanderer learns what it truly takes to find true love. His partner Christian Mir, a hopeless romantic searches for an iconic kiss based on Victor Jorgenson’s 1945 photograph of a sailor and woman embracing in Times Square. Does true love exist for him? He searches for that one kiss for an answer.
The sky above Heathrow was tombstone gray. A storm looked inevitable, common for a London summer. Race backed away from the vast airport window. Christian ground his teeth then snarled, “I have to go, babe,” speaking to the back of Race’s neck.
Race’s pale hands clung to the glass that overlooked the ashen asphalt. He’d just gotten a pedicure. He smelled a hint of chemicals and something sweet--his cologne had absorbed into his skin like sunbeams into an orange. Dirty carts held various bags--Coach, Chaps, Louis Vuitton, Tumi, American Tourister. Slovenly, dark-skinned men scurried by carrying plastic trash. Their body odor lingered. “I’ll meet you in New York."
"Two days. It’s starting to rain. I hope you don’t get delayed, love.” Race turned then blew him a kiss, making Christian smirk.
I hate when he does that, Christian thought. He battled the smile forming, loving Race’s flirtatious acts. Gorgeous, tall, twenty-seven-year-old, Race was so charming at times. His Saxon nose was striking, as was his face and body. His unnecessary workout regimens and monotonous practice of consistent hand washing had been a bit much over the past year. It occurred to him this moment seemed like the many break ups Christian had had in the past.
“I’ll see you off then,” Race said.
“It’s going to be a great trip. See you in the States in two days.”
“Yes, babe, it’ll be our one off--our best. Come with me now? Please.” Christian held his breath.
“I have to work. I’ll be there soon, love.”
Is our relationship going to end here? Christian recognized the bumpy conversation, which had always led to uncomfortable break-ups. He smiled at the excitement growing in the terminals like ferns in balmy jungles, or like the solidity of men’s bodies when touched seductively. He’d always felt the electric jolt shake his body when he’d prepare to travel somewhere he’d never been.
Bridge and tunnel families scrambled to locate the correct terminals. Race had always said they didn’t belong in the city. They’d travel to some metropolis to work via a tunnel or bridge then mess up the bloody stream of urbane life. After they’d fucked up the smooth flow of no-name mega city, they’d bumble back to safe suburbia. He’d encountered many of their types throughout the world’s largest municipalities.
His lover checked his text messages, bopping in place. Race was a sucker for his gadget porn. He fetishized about sending texts or images on his Blackberry or the latest slim mobile. His footwork reminded Christian of the first time they’d danced at Heaven--a popularLondon club for twinks. Or it could be the boyzillian he’d just gotten. Race had heard how trendy it had become, but he seemed to regret the painful sting of the wax.
“You better hurry.” Race scratched the thigh of his tight black jeans.
Were they over as a couple?
Christian tried to let the possibility sink into his skin. He wouldn’t let that happen. He’d invested too much time in their relationship--besides, he loved him.
Even with constant warnings from Christian about his shaky past, Race had insisted they’d visit America together. They’d both traveled extensively, but this would be their first trip together as a real couple. At least Christian imagined them as a pair. He’d dreamed of it, a relationship with someone who could reciprocate his eighteen-century romanticism.
“You’re a character out of a Jane Austen novel,” Race had said. “The world isn’t a Shakespearean play, and today you cannot expect a Pride and Prejudice moment--not from me. I’m not your Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.” At least he’d read the story.
Race was right. Christian dreamed of moments from Gone with the Wind, passion from Wuthering Heights, obsessive love from The Phantom of the Opera. At times, he pretended he was Jane Eyre. At any moment his prince would swoop into the room; their eyes would meet, words would not be necessary. Time would hold its breath; true love would rear up on his stallion. Christian sighed as he watched the British Airways terminal fill with Indians, Japanese, Filipinos, and dozens of children.
“You better board,” Race said, clicking his cell shut. “Getting late.”
Christian ignored Race. He inspected an elderly couple, well into their seventies, saying goodbye. The gentleman held his wife’s hand gently, like dried chrysanthemum petals wilted with time. They laughed with each other’s words. With his expression, he seized her, stalling, before they parted. The gentleman held his breath, the flower stayed intact.
Christian imagined the gentleman’s words.
“I don’t want you to leave me.”
“I must go, but I’ll see you soon, my dear,” the wife said.
“I love…,” the gentlemen finished. Then the kiss, sweet like honeysuckle but strong enough to be sexy.
“You should board, bugger,” Race said.
In a brief moment, the old man kissed his wife’s hair, holding her close. Tears slipped down his burgundy cheeks. He needed to shave. Her eyes were shut, her fingernails digging into his sleeves. They embraced one last time, wrinkling the old man’s plaid gray wool jacket. Then his wife disappeared into the crowd.
British couple Race and Christian plan to re-enact the famous Times Square Kiss where romantic Christian thinks it will show their true love for each other. However, instead of the fun vacation to various unique cities on the East Coast, Race thinks Christian is dead and struggles to mourn his lover appropriately while Christian is rushing after Race to tell him the truth. Along the way a large cast of characters from parents to drag queens to young lovers and new lovers all work to help these erstwhile lovers. In the end, everyone learns something about love and hope and the struggle for happiness.
Times Square Kiss is a complicated book involving a large cast and travel to many different cities. The story is somewhat convoluted with subplots and side plots and excursions all over the place. The summary is what the story is about at the core, stripped of the sideshow antics. If the author had focused more on that and the characters of Race and Christian, I think this would have been a really wonderful story that is humorous, touching, and romantic. It still has those elements but they are hidden underneath the over the top actions and massive cast of characters who jump in and out of scenes with alarming randomness. Some of the supporting people have no real connection to the story or the men involved, definitely not strong enough to continue to focus on them, so their loud and garish antics distract and ultimately hurt the book.
The large group involved starts in an Amish group with young lovers David and Gaston, and Gaston’s father Samuel. Samuel plays entirely too large a role and the especially mind boggling scene of Samuel and Christian with the buggy, molded bust, and corvette (which leads to later actions) didn’t need to be there. David and Gaston’s storyline is touching, sweet and for the most part fits rather well in paralleling Race and Christian’s own troubled path. There is not much seen to David and Gaston’s personality changes with each city he travels to, so it’s difficult to get a handle on his character but the overall relationship between the two is romantic.
There are so many elements and action sequences to this story. It’s not that they don’t progress the story because they do, but they are lengthy and often ridiculous. These long interludes in the story include the prolonged interaction with Jimmy James, GG, Samuel, Tao, and the corvette boys. This entire setup from the bus to Ohio to the club to the kidnapping is utterly ridiculous, time wasting and meant to lengthen the story. It’s easy to see why the author included it in moving the story along for all the main players but there are many, many other ways to achieve the end goal instead of adding this lengthy and uninteresting group of scenes. Unfortunately the added effect was meant to be hilarious and entertaining, yet dragged on for almost 70 pages, which lost the comic effect entirely.
For all the faults in the book, Race is truly a great character. The book has a lot of distractions but without a doubt Race is the star. In part, Race is using his grief to exaggerate his feelings but at the core he really did love Christian but was unable to acknowledge that love. He had no idea what it meant to be in love with another person and instead fell back on his typical behavior. There are several touching scenes where Race remembers small details about Christian that expose his feelings. These are often so genuine and authentic that there is no artifact or playacting for Race; he really did love Christian even if he didn’t treat their relationship right. Race’s journey to honor Christian and the sacrifices he makes, both large and small, show his progression as a person. When focused on Race, especially in the later part of the book, the story shines and was worth reading.
There was a lot of humor in the writing and phrasing, some intended and others not. The story should have been edited to the point that the extraneous scenes could be taken out and made a second book if needed. Due to this, Time Square Kiss was at times difficult to read as some scenes carried on too long and others went too fast. The story could be engrossing and easy to read in portions and it can be difficult and unappealing in others. Overall, the first third and last third are wonderful and the middle is a bit hit and miss. If you can get into the story it’s worth reading.
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