Sometimes you just need to read something totally light and fluffy to lift your mood, and The Love Left Behind by Australian author Daniel de Lorne is exactly that – a sugary tonic of romance and emotional drama. It may be full of empty calories but that’s the fun of it.
Airline pilot Nick returns home from a holiday to find a handsome electrician doing work outside his front door. No, this isn’t the set up for an ’80s porn film! Instead it’s the start of a relationship that pushes both guys in new directions.
Have you ever watched one of those Hallmark Christmas movies? The kind where a girl (usually a career driven city girl) ends up in the country (on assignment, or gets stuck there through fate) and ends up meeting a handsome man (often divorced or just getting over the death of their first wife) and learns to love again after (after overcoming a few minor hurdles). They’re holiday TV catnip. Easy viewing that’s full of fluff and sugar but manages to short-circuit the more cynical part of your brain. I mean, you don’t actually care about any of the characters, the dialogue is cheesy and the dilemmas ridiculously over-wrought, but you still get excited when a puppy appears in the third act. The Love Left Behind had that kind of ‘appeal to the heart’ approach – without the puppy.
Nick, our handsome, late-twenty-something, second-generation Greek immigrant, commercial pilot, is still mourning his mother’s death and travelling the world to places she wanted to go to to scatter her ashes. His relationship with his father is strained. Meanwhile Lyall, the handsome, muscular electrician with killer pecs and dimples, comes from a big, tight-knit Australian family but… plot-twist… has a debilitating fear of flying!
Between a few sexcapades, tensions start to rise as Lyall wants to get to know Nick’s father, and Nick struggles to deal with the fact his boyfriend won’t/can’t join him as he completes his memorial trips for his mother.
Daniel de Lorne has written a very Australian romance set in his hometown of Perth, giving it a subtle sense of authenticity. I would call it ‘down-to-earth’ but this is romance fiction and there is very little that’s actually realistic here.
Full of classic rom-com scenarios, the pacing felt a little off-balance (the couple fall in love ridiculously quickly and some of the complications felt like they were in the wrong place). The story seemed to be conspicuously missing something – sex! The sex scenes in the book are hot, but I expected more of them from a piece of romance fiction. I gasped like a ’60s housewife when the first sex scene got dirty and I won’t lie, I did dream cast some porn stars into the roles of Nick and Lyall.
The Love Left Behind is silly, trashy escapism and if you can excuse the convenient coincidences, melodrama and mood swings, then you can have fun here before jumping back into gay-lit’s more usual tales of tragic queer lives and coming out epics.
Head to romance.com.au for more on the book, including details on how to purchase and info about author Daniel de Lorne.