Ricard offers a thoughtful debut novel about a gay man wrestling with the death of his life partner.
Sebastian Hart, a “forty-year-old Broadway chorus boy who wants to be a choreographer,” is haunted by the memory of his deceased spouse, Frank, who died in an accident a year ago, not long after the two argued about a younger man named Greg. The story opens on Sebastian’s birthday in 2008, a night he spent in Manhattan with his best friend, Chloe, a free-spirited former Radio City Music Hall Rockette who’s determined to jump-start his stagnant social life. She sets him up with a handsome man at a bar, but although Sebastian is flattered, his heart (and wedding band) remains right where it was when he was happily married. His life has become a juggling act involving chorus auditions, dreams of choreographing his own production, entertaining friends, consulting his wellness guru, and suppressing vivid memories of his blissful life with Frank. Ricard effectively mixes things up by having Reid, the landscape designer whom Sebastian met on his birthday, pop up again at Sebastian’s tap dancing class. Meanwhile, Greg appears again to torment Sebastian with an arrogant, remorseless vengeance. Will Sebastian ever find true love again? Sparks inevitably fly as this pleasant domestic drama simmers, even amid a somewhat hokey premise that Frank’s ghost is manifesting itself in Sebastian’s cat, Arthur. Along the way, Ricard cleverly incorporates themes of aging, vanity, loss, self-confidence, and forgiveness, grounding the melodrama in the realities of life in the big city. He paints his main character as a loving, sentimental, good-humored man whose heart is in the right place, and many readers will relate to his situation. The narrative is endearing and impressively assured, and it will be an entertaining treat for fans of LGBT romantic fiction.
A warm, fun, character-driven tale about moving on and embracing life.