Title : Serenading Stanley
Author : John Inman
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 234 pages (e-book)
Published : October 14, 2013
Rating : ★★★★
Welcome to the Belladonna Arms, a rundown little apartment building perched atop a hill in downtown San Diego, home to the city’s lost and lovelorn. Shy archaeology student Stanley Sternbaum has just moved in and fills his time quietly observing his eccentric neighbors, avoiding his hellion mother, and trying his best to go unnoticed… which proves to be a problem when it comes to fellow tenant Roger Jane. Smitten, the hunky nurse with beautiful green eyes does everything in his power to woo Stanley, but Stanley has always lived a quiet life, too withdrawn from the world to take a chance on love. Especially with someone as beautiful as Roger Jane.
While Roger tries to batter down Stanley’s defenses, Stanley turns to his new neighbors to learn about love: Ramon, who’s not afraid to give his heart to the wrong man; Sylvia, the trans who just wants to be a woman, and the secret admirer who loves her just the way she is; Arthur, the aging drag queen who loves them all, expecting nothing in return—and Roger, who has been hurt once before but is still willing to risk his heart on Stanley, if Stanley will only look past his own insecurities and let him in.
Serenading Stanley is a light, humorous romance, filled with eccentric characters that are over the top but totally loveable.
Stanley Sternbaum is working on his Masters degree in Archeology. He has been shy and awkward in social situations his entire life. Working with dead people seemed like the perfect career choice. It turns out he actually loves it. He decides to finally make the break, escaping his domineering mother to live his life on his own terms. Well that is the idea anyway.
Stanley finds himself standing in front of the Belladonna Arms, a small apartment complex close to campus and affordable. He gets his first impression of the place when he sees the vacancy sign out front with an added glittery note on it that states “To Apply Please Be Cute”, he then hears a man singing loudly, off key from one of the open windows. After taking in the brightly colored curtains adorning every window and assessing himself to see if he fits the cuteness requirement, he decides to give the place a try.
Upon entering the building, “a swirling mass of orange taffeta came swooping into the lobby through a side door like a phoenix exploding from the wings into voluptuous flame.” This would be Arthur, drag queen, apartment owner/manager. Stanley takes an immediate liking to Arthur. As Arthur tells Stanley the apartment for rent is the “penthouse”, which is really a euphemism for a top floor, trudging up six flights of stairs, in the unbearable heat, apartment. The trip up to the apartment is hysterical and as they go, Arthur fills Stanley in on the other tenants in the building. There is Sylvia, a transsexual,
Mr. Ingersol (who pleasantly surprised me), Ramon, the fledgling hairdresser in training, and Roger Jane, the dreamy nurse everyone adores. Just as they reach his apartment door, Arthur falls into a dead faint. Terrified, Stanley looks about for help when a voice calls out and above the railing appears a head so handsome it takes his breath away. Yes, this is the handsome, god-like nurse, Roger Jane.
I loved the way the author takes the reader on this rollercoaster experience. His descriptions of the people and setting of the scenes are so vivid, it is easy to imagine all of the characters. The hodgepodge group of tenants interacts in such a manner that they come across as a family of sorts; which I suppose they are. Although Stanley is trying to become his own person, his mother just can’t let him alone. Their relationship is complicated and so typical of a micro-managing, guilt dumping parent. Her interactions with Stanley’s neighbors are indicative of her personality and poor Ramon gets the full force of her scathing comments. As Stanley asserts his new-found independence he is blind to Roger Janes interest, and when he is made aware, he is in denial and full of self doubt. He can’t believe anyone as god-like as Roger Jane would be interested in someone like him, a lowly mortal. I was a bit frustrated with Stanley after a while and wanted to thunk him as much as Roger probably did. It was a sweet courtship, and although I am not always one for love at first sight, these two managed to pull it off, even if Stanley did have a hard time allowing himself to admit those feelings.
This is mainly Stanley’s and Roger’s story but we are treated to multiple storylines developing at the same time. They all intertwine and come together in a perfect knot by the end of the book. I must say Sylvia is one of my favorite characters. She is beautiful and her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. If you are looking for a fun story filled with eccentric, quirky characters as well as tender sweet moments, I recommend Serenading Stanley.
Rated 4 stars by Deb