Better Than Easy – Review Roundup

betterthanHere’s a summary of reviews received by Better Than Easy.

Richard Labonte – Books To Watch Out For
“Can love last? Can gay men find domestic contentment? Alexander asks and answers pesky questions central to the homo condition in this perceptive, entertaining novel that showcases his warm wit, his wry insight, and his commendable knack for crafting queer characters with real dimension. Gay fiction doesn’t get much better than Better Than Easy.”

Paul Burston – Time Out ”

Better Than Easy is my favourite of Nick Alexander’s novels so far. It’s sweet, sexy, funny and tender, and I’m not ashamed to say I laughed and cried.”

Rob Dawson – Gay Times ”

Nick Alexander does something quite exceptional with words, achieving two very distinct pleasures. Firstly, he successfully wraps the reader in the lives of his characters, allowing you to drift voyeuristically into the unfolding plot. Secondly, he forces you to analyse your behaviour as you recognise elements of your own life in his stories. One minute you’re in a cocoon of escapism, the next, reality bites you on the arse… It’s touching, funny, and damn sexy at times, causing a stir in more ways that one. I loved 13:55 Eastern Standard Time, I loved the last three volumes of the 50 Reasons series, and I loved this book.”

Blaze Magazine – Will Lowes

Life can be a real bitch sometimes. There’s our hero Mark lolling about France with boyfriend Tom, happy and in love, planning to buy a gite (a self catering cottage) to rent out to clamouring customers. Life couldn’t be better, could it? Well, yes, it could. In Better Than Easy, author Nick Alexander charts Mark’s slow realisation that all is not as it should be – indeed he is surrounded by lies, deception, and duplicity. Early on, Alexander flags that all is not well with the lazy, easy-going Tom: “the problem is … that unless there’s a gite, we aren’t together.” And then there’s Chantal, the woman selling them this gorgeous cottage, hidden high in the snow-covered alps. She’s about as appealing as a train crash. Then there’s Jenny, Mark’s best friend. Or is she? Mark’s uneasy world goes lemon-shaped when he meets Jenny’s new boyfriend, Ricardo, half French, half Colombian. Ricardo sees the world from a very different perspective, which is just as well. Otherwise, he too, might be caught in this web of superficial happiness. And Mark isinexorably drawn to Ricardo. Difficult choices lie ahead. Better Than Easy is very readable – unlike so much gay fiction – and Alexander successfully paints a series of characters self-absorbed and full of human frailties. Like all of us really. Where he shines – and unexpectedly so – is in three almost set pieces of sex action. Describing physical action is one thing; bringing erotic and emotional stimulation to it is another, more difficult task. Alexander brings all these elements together in a, ah, stirring fashion. A touch of W.H. Auden perhaps? Better Than Easy is Nick Alexander’s fourth volume in the best-selling 50 Reasons series. It’s success lies in the fact that this reviewer now wants to read the first three.

Gscene

BETTER THAN EASY by Nick Alexander, BIGfib Books, out March 5. This is the fourth volume in Nick Alexander’s 50 Reasons series, which centres on the life of Mark, his partner Tom and best friend Jenny. Mark and Tom have moved to France and are awaiting the sale of a gîte they hope to renovate for holiday-makers. The book centres on how the long process of the gîte’s sale impacts on the couple’s relationship and tests its strength. Mark feels stable with Tom and believes in long-term relationships, but Tom believes that gay men are not monogamous creatures. The narrative shows how Mark tries to come to terms with this, questioning his and Tom’s different beliefs, and pondering whether buying a gîte as a long-term project is a good idea if Tom doesn’t believe in relationships lasting forever. As the story continues, more revelations, secrets and lies start to emerge. Mark finds flirtatious emails sent to another man by Tom, and Mark wonders if he is only with Tom out of a sense of security and comfort. Mark then meets a man who has a girlfriend, yet they spark. As his relationship with Tom weakens, Mark finds himself falling for this man, whom he later discovers is the boyfriend of his best friend, Jenny. The battle between Mark’s conscience and feelings during his affair with Jenny’s boyfriend is written well, and Alexander contemplates whether or not honesty is in fact selfish, which left me with plenty to think about afterwards – even now! The message of the story is about not settling for what’s comfortable but, instead, striving for what’s ‘better than easy’. The issues in regards to Tom and Mark’s relationship are quite realistic, showing that the underlying doubts we have about a person are usually justified. But it gives a positive message that long-term relationships are achievable, no matter what your sexuality – it’s all to do with your own beliefs.

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