Anything Could Happen
Title : Anything Could Happen
Author : B.G. Thomas
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 244 pages (e-book)
Published : September 9, 2013
Rating : ★★★★1/2
Moving to Kansas City could be the best thing Austin Shelbourne has ever done. For a start, he can stop living a lie and finally come out of the closet. And there’s a chance, though slim, that he might be able to locate the love of his life, Todd Burton. It had seemed like a good idea when he seduced his friend, but Todd freaked out and vanished. Austin hopes to find Todd, make things right between them, and win his love. But when he meets actor Guy Campbell, things get even more confusing.
The moment Guy sets eyes on Austin, he knows Austin is The One. But Austin makes it clear he feels a responsibility to Todd, and Guy has some dark secrets of his own. He’s found redemption in acting and directing, but worries that if Austin learns the truth, he might not be able bear it. And what if Todd accepts Austin’s apology and the love Austin offers? Guy wants Austin desperately, but he also wants him to be happy. In the play of life, with the happiness of good men in the balance, anything could happen.
Austin Shelbourne has been in love with his best friend, Todd Burton, for years. One night he decides to act on those feelings and seduces Todd. Things do not turn out like Austin hopes and Todd literally runs out and refuses to speak to Austin. Things go from bad to worse when Todd’s girlfriend turns to Austin for comfort and Todd finds them together. This drives Todd away completely and he leaves their small town of Buckman for Kansas City, prompting Austin to move to Kansas City after him. At a suggestion from his Grandmother, Austin moves in with his elderly Uncle Boden. Twenty year old Austin has been living in the closet his whole life. When he walks into Uncle Boden’s apartment, what he sees surprised him. He is sure Uncle Bodie is gay but no one had ever mentioned it. While talking to his uncle, Austin blurts out that he is gay. Uncle Bodie is the first person he ever told this to out loud. It is a freeing experience and the conversation between them is funny and sweet.
Uncle Bodie is delightful. He lives alone with his little Pomeranian, Lucille, and is prone to speaking his mind, even when it embarrasses Austin. Uncle Bodie asks his neighbor, Guy, to help Austin move his belongings into the apartment. Upon seeing Austin, Guy feels an instant attraction to the younger man. Guy is in his late twenties and an actor, director and jack of all trades with the Pegasus Theater. He is currently working on a production of Steel Magnolias where half of the cast is played by men in drag. Guy invites Austin to come to their last showing. Austin is excited at the prospect of seeing a production in a real theater. He has been in plays during high school and loves acting. Guy is also working on another play, called Tearoom Tango that affects him personally, speaking to a dark time in his life. On the surface it is about sex in public restrooms, but it is a complex play and delves much deeper than that. Guy is also writing a play. He is reluctant to share details, afraid he will jinx it. I loved how this play is so integral to the story.
Guy flirts with Austin at first, until he learns that Austin has moved here in search of his true love, Todd. As Guy and Austin get to know one another better, he puts his attraction aside and offers to help Austin search for Todd. His reason for helping becomes more personal as Guy’s feelings for Austin deepen. He wants Austin to be sure about how he really feels about Todd. As Uncle Bodie says, no one wants to be someone’s second choice.
Anything Could Happen almost feels like a coming of age story for the three main characters. We are living Austin’s experience as it happens, but also getting glimpses of Uncle Bodie’s and Guy’s experiences from their youth. It is beautiful to watch Austin discover a life he has only imagined. Coming from a small town, he felt like he was the only gay man in the world. Austin is amazed and comments several times in the book saying this is real, I am gay and I am not alone. I adored Uncle Bodie. I was as shocked as Austin when I first met him in the book. He was so outspoken and Austin so unsure of himself. I think I grew to love him right along with Austin. Then there is Guy. He is one of those characters I wanted to hug and say, it’s ok. He comes across as confident but has this vulnerability about him. His life experiences have not been as positive as Austin or Bodie’s. He uses his love for theater to express himself and to work through those things that haunt him from his past.
I really enjoyed Anything Could Happen. It is sweet, funny and, at times, frustrating (this is due to my impatience with Austin to open his eyes and see what’s in front of him). There are also times when it is heart breaking (yes, tissues required), but it was always engaging. I loved the way the author wove together the lives of these three men and used the theater as a vehicle for telling the story. The secondary characters brought a lightness to it and I thought Austin’s grandparents were delightful.
I had some questions about a couple of the characters and I was told that there is more to their story in the book “The Boy Who Came In From the Cold“, of which this is a spin-off. Naturally, that one is now on my tbr list.
Rated 4.5 stars by Deb