Reviewed by: Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team
“Winter Heart” is, emotionally and in terms of sheer verbiage, the grand finale of B.G. Thomas’s Seasons of Love series. Set up by the events of the last book (“Autumn Changes”), this is the story of Wyatt Dolan, the short, adorable, cuddly Little Bear we’ve gotten to know in the previous volumes. Wyatt is the one member of the Fabulous Four who always seems upbeat and enthusiastic. In “Winter Heart” we meet the real Wyatt, and we travel with him as he takes his longest journey.
Wyatt’s Prince Charming is Kevin Owens, a successful smartphone app designer from New York who has previously only been known to us by his faerie name – Hodor. Kevin has known Wyatt slightly for years, but has always resisted his attraction.
Then, circumstances happen. As they do.
Now, I need to step back a little and explain something about this relatively epic m/m romance and its companion volumes. As I’ve noted in my reviews of the other three books for PRG, these have a complex cultural underpinning that is drawn very much from the real-life experiences of gay men of my generation. There is a kind of visceral truth to a lot of what Thomas presents in “Winter Heart” that resonated with what I remember from thirty years ago. There are big issues here—faith, family, fidelity, sexual freedom, monogamy, mortality. Central to this seems to be a universal truth for gay men that hasn’t really changed during my lifetime: we have the need—indeed the right—to define ourselves as we want to be, not according to what others expect us to be. Even if those others are also gay men.
So, although “Winter Heart” has the requisite sex and HEA upon which the m/m world insists, it does so through the lens of an author who—according to his own notes at the back of the book—has experienced what he writes first-hand. And I could tell. This is a romance, but it is not a fantasy. The pain and the joy and the wild emotional swings that the reader experiences are infused with truth. It hits hard.
Because this story is so personal to the author, I will note that it is messier than the earlier books, a little untethered and less controlled in its writing and its plot. I found myself forgiving most of this because of the way it touched so many tender buttons in my psyche. At sixty-two, I’m actually more romantic than I was at 22, because I look back over the minor epic of my own life, adding the nostalgia of memory to who I am now. I was prepared to feel left out of this story of twenty-somethings struggling to find happiness and authenticity in the 21st century. I was surprised to find myself drawn in and embraced. This is a tale of kinship and brotherhood enriched with an insider’s wisdom and pain. It reaches across generations and welcomes us all.
Although presented as a pseudonymous pop singer in the text, Thomas cites at length a song titled “Fly” by a gay artist named Bobby Jo Valentine. I looked it up online, and immediately saw why Thomas wanted it in his book. You should look it up too.