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Double Review: Love & Limitations

Love and Limitations - J. Scott Coatsworth

Just got two great release-day reviews for my brand new MM/Gaylit short story collection Love and Limitations – from Maryann at QueeRomance Ink and Ulysses at Paranormal Romance Guild.

The Reviews

Maryann

Five short stories about how others find love, no matter the situation or where they are, and some have love staring them in the face but just don’t see it.  

My favorite story is “Slow Thaw,” which I first read in 2018. It was worth reading again. Col Steele and Javier Fernandez are two very intelligent scientists, focused on researching the effects of climate change in Antarctica. They both have personal issues. Javier seems to ignore Col, a trans man who is just trying to find where he fits in. They’ve both had heartbreaking relationships. They find themselves taking on a beautiful but harsh land with an impossible climate, which threatens their very survival. But will they also be able to survive each other? 

“The Boy in the Band” has a surprise and a helping hand – Justin is a trans teen who can no longer deal with harassment and bullying. He finds a friend and savior in Ryan, an older married gay man who really “sees him.”

“Ten” is similar to the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” except it’s ten days of dating. Chris counts down the days and scores his dates from 1-10, but he just can’t seem to find anyone he fits with. As his time runs out, will he find that special someone? What’s fun about this story for me are the many places mentioned here in Sacramento, California.

The five stories in “Love & Limitations” are a reflection of how J. Scott Coatsworth started his pursuit to be a published author. Each one is easy to read and not very long. There’s heartbreak, sadness, melancholy, love, generosity and hope here in spades – and all reflect the need to be recognized when life seems harsh. The stories feature a diverse case, and one in particular is based in part on the author’s own experience as a young gay man growing up. 

I highly recommend “Love & Limitations.” Coatsworth expresses himself beautifully, and every story sends a positive message about new beginnings.

Ulysses

This collection of five long stories is all about love, but these are not about insta-love or easy love. Each story is a journey, and sometimes a difficult journey. As Coatsworth says in his foreword, there is light in all of them, but other emotions share the spotlight. It is notable that three of these five stories feature trans men as central characters. Every story is strikingly different, despite their shared themes of friendship, loss, and hope. They’re all really good.

“I Only Want to Be With You” is as close to a classic rom-com story as this collection offers, but a distinctly sober rom-com. Derrek and Ryan are old friends, and both have suffered great loss in their lives. As Christmas approaches, Derrek looks to Ryan for solace over the loss of his mother, but gets caught up in Ryan’s own faltering relationship. It’s a complicated pas-de-deux, which Coatsworth resolves with skill and sensitivity.

“The Boy in the Band” made me weep. A middle-aged gay man in a longterm relationship offers help to a trans boy struggling for his life in a hostile world. This was another delicate piece of narrative choreography, and it works so very well. 

“Translation” is another classic story with a twist. Domenic, a would-be writer, has a crush on his Italian boss Dante, who himself has just come off a disastrous break-up. Love sometimes makes people do stupid things, but this is a case where wisdom follows stupidity and surprises everyone. I was looking for the easy answer here, but I didn’t get it.

“Slow Thaw” is an adventure story, and incorporates Scott’s passion for writing about climate change. A love story set in Antarctica is unlikely enough, but Scott pushes this into exciting territory. 

Finally, “Ten” is another story about a young man grieving over a recent shattering loss. Urged on by his memories of his late husband Ari, Chris decides to go on dates with different men ten nights in a row as Christmas approaches, hoping to find “the one” to help him move on. The story is a gentle survey of young gay men (or maybe all gay men) and their prejudices, and how we limit our chances of happiness by unwillingness to make a leap.

Five stars.

About The Book

Love & Limitations is Scott’s fourth short story collection and first one featuring contemporary MM and LGBTQ+ stories:

I Only Want to Be With You: Derrek likes Ryan. Ryan likes Alex. Alex treats Ryan like trash. So why can’t he see who really loves him?

The Boy in the Band: It’s hard for a trans kid in high school, just like it was for a gay kid two decades before. Can Ryan and Justin find common ground in time?

Translation: Dominic has a thing for Italian guys, especially his boss, Dante. His roommate Enrico has a thing for him. No matter how this ends, someone is going to get hurt.

Slow Thaw: As the Antarctic warms, so does the chilly relationship between scientist Javier Fernandez and new arrival-and trans man-Col Steele as they contend with a disaster on the ice.

Ten: After the death of his husband, Chris faces a gay mid-life crisis-at thirty-five-as he jumps back into the dating scene for ten dates in ten days.

This is the first time all of these stories have all been collected in one place, and the first publication of the The Boy in the Band in any form.

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