Hanging by the Moment
Title : Hanging by the Moment
Author : H.B. Pattskyn
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 350 pages (e-book)
Published : September 6, 2013
Rating : ★★★★1/2
Pasha Batalov has lived his whole life doing what a good son is expected to do. He dropped out of school to help run the failing family restaurant, and ever since he’s put up with his difficult business partner, who also happens to be his father. And, of course, he keeps his sexual orientation a secret from his conservative Russian family. After being closeted costs him his first serious relationship, Pasha resigns himself to one-night stands and loneliness.
But after a chance encounter with lost delivery truck driver, Daniel Englewood, Pasha starts to question all of his assumptions about life. Daniel is sweet, funny, smart, drop-dead gorgeous—and for the last six years, he’s been living with HIV. Pasha worries that he won’t be strong enough to help Daniel if HIV turns to AIDS, but he can’t walk away from their deepening attraction. He also doesn’t know if he can be strong enough to face the hardest task that a relationship with Daniel demands: coming out to his family and friends, and risking losing everything else he holds dear.
This is a beautiful story in which the characters of Pasha and Daniel – who in so many ways are held prisoner by their fears – discover the fortitude, conviction and love to vanquish them.
I absolutely loved this extremely well written book, and in turn, the characters of Pasha and Daniel. “Realistic” is the word that comes to mind for describing it in a nutshell. The story arc, the settings, the characters, the uncertainties, the family dynamics – all are very realistic. Yes, I know this term probably gets overused, misused, means different things to different people etc., but I’m sticking with it! It’s a plus for me that the story takes place in the metro Detroit area, of which I’m a lifelong resident. Having the characters live in and frequent areas and establishments where I have been, brought an added level of enjoyment for me – the authenticity really shines through. In fact, I was just in Royal Oak this past weekend and found myself looking for Pasha’s restaurant 😉
On to the story. Pasha is a 24-year-old young man who works 7 days a week with his father at their small family restaurant. He also shares a home and a car with his father. Pasha doesn’t mind the hard work, but he sure would like to work smarter. His father, Ivan, is stubborn and domineering, set in his ways, and won’t hear of any changes or new ideas for the restaurant. Ivan is backed up in these views by their conservative Russian immigrant family. As if this isn’t enough, Pasha is gay, but he cannot bring himself to find out how badly that news would hit the fan should he announce the fact. So Pasha trudges on, pretty much merely existing, but also engaging in a series of one night hook ups. These may give him sexual satisfaction, but he wonders if he’ll ever find more. He has given up culinary school, a serious (albeit secret) relationship with a man – pretty much his whole life – rather than rock the boat with his father.
The author is remarkably gifted in painting characters and settings. I liked Pasha immediately and felt as though I were actually there in the restaurant having him greet me with a smile and a cup of coffee. He’s a bright, friendly guy who also happens to be very loyal to his father. Pasha also has issues with his physical appearance – he sees nothing special in the mirror and laments his size 38 waist. There are compelling reasons why Pasha doesn’t just throw in the towel and leave. For one thing, his older brother Peter has already done so. Somehow Peter managed to “escape”, marry, and move across state, even though Ivan had always planned on both brothers inheriting the restaurant. We also find out that Pasha’s mother has Alzheimer’s and Ivan has had her placed in a care facility near another relative in Chicago. Ivan is dolefully living to work, and expecting Pasha to do the same. Neither man is truly living at all.
Enter Daniel. Ah yes, gorgeous, easy-going, warm-hearted Daniel. Pasha’s initial chance meeting with him takes place when Daniel is lost, and he pulls into the restaurant parking lot for directions. I swoon at the symbolism here 🙂
The encounter leaves Pasha quite flustered. He is sure Daniel was flirting with him…. wasn’t he? Um, yes honey, he most definitely was! 😀 The situation sets Pasha off on a fresh round of worries. What if Daniel comes back for lunch like he said he would? Pasha can’t be “out” with him at work. Pasha’s insecurities about his appearance come into play as well. Daniel is gorgeous. Pasha has a hard time believing that Daniel could really be interested in his plain old pudgy self.
Daniel does return and he is most definitely interested. Amy, one of the servers at the restaurant, and a friend of Pashas’, figures out pretty quickly what is going on just by watching how Pasha reacts to Daniel’s presence. She quickly beats feet and has Pasha wait on Daniel. Pasha haltingly lets Daniel know that he can’t pursue anything, he tells him his life is complicated. Daniel’s subsequent reply and their short exchange is awesome and oh so true:
“Everybody’s life is complicated, Sugar. It’s what you do with the complications that counts.”
“I wish it was that easy”
“It’s as easy – or as hard – as you make it.”
And so this sets the stage for Pasha’s approach to his future actions and his relationship with Daniel.
I want to make a definite point here with how much I LOVE the dialogue in this book. The characters actually talk (yeah, at times yell) to each other. They communicate. They may not always say what needs to be said at the moment, or be the most eloquent, but they talk. And eventually they get it all out there.
As it turns out, Daniel is not easily swayed and he knows where to find Pasha. The two of them end up going out and Pasha has a wonderful time. Still he has doubts about what Daniel finds so attractive about him, and that Daniel is OK with dating someone in the closet, although Daniel has been forthcoming with his feeling about all of this. Since the guys don’t live very close to each other, they spend a lot of time on the phone between dates. Pasha finds himself falling for Daniel hard and fast (Daniel has mutual feelings), and all they’ve done up to this point is talk and kiss. It’s on their second real date that Daniel tells Pasha his secret – Daniel is HIV positive.
At this point I will leave off of the details. I want the reader to experience the ups and downs and the struggles of Pasha, Daniel and yes, even Ivan, right along with them. I mentioned at the beginning of the review that this story is about conquering fears. Pasha’s include telling his family he is gay, standing up to his father and family in relation to the business, hell, in relation to his life! He fears that by doing this he may lose all that he has left that is dear to him – his family. Pasha also had to deal with the insecurities of entering into another serious relationship after being dumped by his previous boyfriend. As he educates himself about HIV, and about being in an intimate relationship with someone who is positive, he finds himself questioning if this is what he really wants, Daniel even questions him about it. Pasha realizes that Daniel fears not only what the future will bring regarding his health, but that by Daniel merely telling anybody he is HIV positive he risks losing them, being ostracized. Thankfully, Daniel has a loving and supportive family, something Pasha is both thankful for, and envious of. Then we have Ivan, who has already essentially lost his wife, and his oldest son. He is clinging to what he knows– Pasha and his restaurant – and afraid of what change may bring, afraid that Pasha cannot lead a happy life as a gay man. The story is chock full of well- crafted secondary characters that pop off of the pages. Some are rock solid supporters of the guys, others display an ugly side of the human race.
Thanks in part to his new relationship with Daniel, Pasha discovers an inner strength and conviction toward dealing with his father that he wasn’t sure he possessed. Together, they also find strength and courage in their love for each other. Ivan realizes that he must see Pasha for who he really is and what he can offer as a business partner, or risk losing him.
I had a few moments when I contemplated that maybe all the strife getting thrown at the characters, especially Pasha, was really too much. It seemed so overwhelming at times. Then I realized, hey, this strife is typical of real life, hello!! It’s not “make believe” kind of problems, it is raw, real, every day crap that people deal with. Well, that and the fact that I could barely stand to set the book down without finishing it! There is great character growth and a very believable pace to the romance. The HIV aspect was handled with frankness and accuracy. I applaud the author for including this in the story and handling it in such an honest and respectful fashion.
Pasha and Daniel do get a happy ending ♥ As is usually the way with reality, not everything is tied up in a bow, but the characters have found peace with themselves as well as a renewed purpose and vigor for life. I highly recommend this book!!
Rated 4.5 stars by Dianne