A charming, extended family of Boston gay men pursue the true meaning of passion. Jeff O'Brien, 32, is caught between ""the boom and the X generations, pre- and post-Stonewall, positive and negative, young and old."" He's been with his lover, Lloyd, for seven years, and each has embarked on a premature midlife crisis. The two have a sexually open relationship, but when Lloyd declares his need for even more space, Jeff is thrown into an emotional tailspin. (In one of several fine ironies, Lloyd flees to pursue a dream of spiritual transcendence, but it's Jeff who ends up experiencing it.) Jeff seeks solace from Javitz, a 47-year-old former lover, now dying of AIDS, who acts as a sort of wise elder, and from Eduardo, 22, the Provincetown native with whom Jeff thinks he's in love. After much anguished introspection, everybody finds a unique definition of passion, rooted in love and commitment, to replace idealized notions of endless sexual hunger. Meanwhile, Mann offers all one might ask for in gay fiction: solid, believable characters who reflect the ethnic, class, and generational diversity of the community; witty, ribald conversation that sounds the way people actually speak; laugh lines that are funny and sex scenes that are hot. The contemporary preoccupations of gay men are probed with rare insight: Can new families be created without renouncing the old ones? Do youth and looks have to be fetishized? What is safe sex? Can friends be lovers? Is the waning of sexual passion inevitable? The complicated flashback structure, alternating between Boston and Provincetown over a two-year period, is also deftly handled. A nice blend of romance and comedy, and a thoughtful contribution to the search for an ethics of gay relationships. An impressive debut.