Title : Spark
Series : North Star, Book #1
Author : Posy Roberts
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 304 pages (e-book)
Published : September 2, 2013
Rating : ★★★★1/2
In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.
By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.
When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.
Spark is one of those books that I am finding difficult to describe. I loved it. It is not angst filled or full of extreme emotions. It is subtle and flowing, written in a beautiful ,descriptive prose that painted images clearly in my mind and pulled me into the story.
Spark is a story about friendship, meeting our family’s expectations as well as our own, discovering one’s sexuality, life dreams, finding and losing love then discovering an unexpected opportunity for a second chance.
Kevin and Hugo meet in high school and become best friends. They come from different backgrounds; Kevin’s father is overbearing, controlling and his idea of being successful is working one’s way to the corner office, high social status and wealth without regard to happiness or friendship. He is not supportive of Kevin unless it is something he wants him to do and any success is attributed to his father and failures laid squarely upon Kevin’s shoulder.
Hugo’s family is middle class, his mother is a nurse and his father works at the Hormel Company. They are supportive and loving. Even though Hugo’s father is terminally ill, he is still supportive and lets Hugo know he loves him and wants him to follow his dreams and be happy. Hugo is Kevin’s balance, his calm, the one person who likes Kevin for just himself. Hugo awakens something in Kevin and he is drawn to Hugo as more than just friends. Knowing his father would never accept Kevin’s bisexuality, the attraction is very difficult for him, for as much as he wants to be himself, he wants to please his father and have his love and respect. Kevin is conflicted and feels like he must play a part and live a lie until he can be on his own.
Hugo feels the same constraints, he is afraid to disappoint his family and afraid of the reaction from students at school. Even once Hugo does know his family loves and accepts him for who he is and wants only his happiness, he must still keep the love he has for Kevin a secret from the rest of the world, cherishing those moments when they can be together.
When they graduate and go to separate universities, they end up losing contact with one another. During this time, Hugo becomes the man he has always wanted to be, open and honest about who he is and what he wants. He has a career in the arts and works as an actor and director. Hugo has also discovered another part of himself that he enjoys. He performs in drag, as Miss Cherrie Pop, with his friend Gabriel and a troupe of other performers. Unfortunately this has been a problem in his past relationships. Once they find out that Hugo performs in drag, the relationship ends.
When Hugo’s best friend Summer breaks off her engagement with her boyfriend after she finds out he has been cheating on her, she invites Hugo for a weekend at her family’s lake house. Once there, an old friend of Summer’s invites them to a party. While relaxing and getting to know Summer’s friends, some one that Hugo had not ever expected to see again shows up. It is Kevin. Even after all these years that spark is still there and they are drawn to one another as if time had not passed, but it has, and both men have things they need to resolve if they are to continue to seeing one another. Kevin is in the midst of a divorce and is sharing custody of his two young children, he is also still in the closet. Hugo is out and must decide whether he wants to pursue this relationship and hide parts of himself again or risk losing his best friend and lover for a second time.
I loved how this story starts out with a moment from the boys teen years. It is sweet and beautiful and left me feeling wistful for those magic moments of first love. The book continues mixing the present with scenes from the past, presented through the characters’ daydreams and reminiscing. It felt natural and helped round out the characters’ history together and why they have made the decisions they have. I also enjoyed Summer, Hugo’s best friend, and Kevin’s children, Brooke and Finn, as supporting characters. They play an important role in the feel of the story, grounding it in the present. There are so many beautiful moments and lovely places I would like to share but I would hate to ruin that moment for you. Rain, candy canes, compasses, passionate kisses, portfolios. Sigh. The ending felt a bit abrupt but not in a bad way. It was light and hopeful. This is a lovely romance and I am looking forward to the next book in this series.
Rated 4.5 stars by Deb