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Message of Love

by Christopher Verleger
Contributor
Wednesday May 14, 2014
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Author Jim Provenzano introduced college-bound couple Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester in his 2012 Lambda Literary Award-winning Gay Romance, "Every Time I Think of You." They return in his equally engaging sequel, "Message of Love," a tender, titillating examination of two men destined for each other, despite the endless obstacles thrown their way by family, friends and the early onset of AIDS.

After their relationship survives Everett’s near-fatal accident that leaves him in a wheelchair, the seemingly indestructible duo arrive in Philadelphia together to begin their college careers at Temple University. Although Everett is accustomed to having Reid always by his side, he reluctantly follows his mother’s advice and soon thereafter transfers nearby to the University of Pennsylvania.

As one would expect of any gay couple in their late teens, the young men struggle with the usual distractions, including peer pressure, setting aside time for each other, resisting temptation to stray, and in particular, finding trustworthy friends.

In the Fall of 1981, Reid and Everett realize they can’t bear to be apart and find a place together. Meanwhile, they experiment with having an open relationship (more in theory than practice) and even invite an interested party to join them for a three-way.

The black cloud of AIDS hits home when they hear from Wesley Sweigard, a pre-accident acquaintance (and situation that left Everett emotionally scarred), who reveals his days are numbered and wants to make amends.

The compelling tale of Reid and Everett, which is far from over at the end of this novel, reminds one of the age old saying that love conquers all and perhaps most importantly, that relationships are about compromise. While their initial story presented Everett’s paralysis as the life-changing event that turns the worlds of both young men upside-down, this sequel has its share of drama, but more of the everyday trials and tribulations and complications that hold true for any two individuals who share each other’s lives--and an unconditional love.

The lively city of Philadelphia itself (and home of the honorably mentioned "Giovanni’s Room" bookstore) also plays a part in their story, as nature enthusiast, Reid, and political pioneer, Everett, take pride in helping to facilitate the public’s progress of accommodating the physically challenged.

Furthermore, there are plenty of lighthearted moments, tawdry trysts and colorful characters to feast upon, including gay friend, Gerard, who arouses feelings of jealousy in Reid, and their considerate, concerned landlady, Mrs. Kukka.

"Message of Love" is an earnest, heartfelt and refreshing continuation of a young couple’s adventures that leaves the reader excited, amused and inspired.

Message of Love
Jim Provenzano
CreateSpace/Myrmidude Press
$14.95

Chris Verleger is an avid reader, aspiring novelist and self-professed theater geek from Providence. Email cwverleger1971@yahoo.com.

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