Review by: Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team
So, three out of four. I’ve reviewed all of my previous reviews of Thomas’s books, and realize that there is a clear theme in my reactions to his work.
Thomas writes with an old soul about young men. I like that. Maybe it’s true that, since gay men come out earlier now than they did in my day (me, at 20, in 1975), they’ve begun to work through their sturm und drang by the time they’re in their early 30s. Who knows? All I know is that of the Fabulous Four—Logan, Scott, Asher and Wyatt, we’re now down to the wire, having dealt with all sorts of back story baggage as these thirty-somethings stumble toward happiness.
As in all of Thomas’s books, this is a double story. It focuses on Asher Eisenberg, the movie-star wannabe Jewish prince of the tale. We know that Asher is a love-‘em-and-leave-‘em guy—only he doesn’t love so much as “do” them. He’s a top, and his insistence on that is a clue to something crucial in this story. In Asher’s plot arc here, Thomas brings us back to one of his earlier books, involving a local theater in Kansas City, and thus taps into Asher’s near-desperate yearning to be a star.
The other side concerns Peni, a Samoan Mormon, which is a real thing in Missouri, where all these books are set. Peni has a deep dislike of Asher, not all of which is based on his own Mormon distaste for drunkenness. Peni knows he’s gay, but doesn’t know what to do about it, since it flies in the face of his Mormon upbringing. What keeps him from despair is his warm memories of Samoan mythology, imparted to him by his grandfather, who, like his father, was a chief. Interestingly, Peni’s deep yearning is to find the courage to obtain the pe’a—the striking and brutal full-body tattooing that elite Samoan men traditionally adopt to mark their status and their manhood.
Like all classic m/m romance, we know where the story is going. Like the best m/m romance, we don’t know the path the author will take, and that’s the joy and pleasure of reading this. Less emotionally intense than Scott’s adventure at a queer men’s festival in book two, “Autumn Changes” still gives us plenty of emotion to absorb. As with all of Thomas’s characters, Asher forces us to work our way through our own dislike, and his awareness of how he is disliked by others, toward a psychological epiphany that, I confess, took me by surprise. We are all haunted by our childhoods, even if they were happy, and Thomas probes that in his two main characters to great effect.
A central social cataclysm points the way to the final book in this seasonal set. I don’t want to give away any clues, but I was glad to see it, and of course can’t wait to read the fourth and final episode in the lives of the Fabulous Four.