Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Author’s website: http://mickieashling.livejournal.com/
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 2009
ISBN: 9781935192879 (Electronic); 9781935192862 (Print)
Format: Electronic and Print
Genre: Contemporary GLBT
Sensuality Level: 4
Reviewed by: BD Whitney
Clark Stevens is a star football player at UC Berkley who has a bright future in professional sports ahead of him. It’s all he’s good for, really, because he’s less than intelligent. Or so his father tells him. His controlling father has mapped out every portion of Clark’s life, planning his professional career and denying him the medication he needs to get a handle on his ADD. So far, Clark has toed the line. He has even buried his homosexuality, knowing that it would interfere with his father’s plans for him. But when Clark lands in the emergency room and meets Doctor Jody Williams, he can’t deny his attraction to the man.
Jody is out and proud and refuses to compromise because of the bigotry of others. He is stunned by the young blonde god that appears in his emergency room. When he finds out about Clark’s learning disability, he volunteers to help, and during the course of their time together, he finds out that there is much more to the young man than physical beauty and a football uniform. Even though Clark is clearly struggling with his own identity, Jody finds himself falling in love.
Clark doesn’t want to give up what he has with Jody, but he knows that if he comes out regarding his sexual orientation, it will most likely ruin his chance at a professional career. It will also enrage his family, especially his father. Is Clark willing to risk exposing Jody to the possible danger that this would put him in? Sometimes loving someone means having to let go for that person’s own good, even if it results in a broken heart.
What if you had to choose between the one you love and your family? Or your career? Mickie B. Ashling’s Horizons is a novel of love and the struggle for personal identity. It is also a story about staying true to oneself in spite of the wishes and expectations of others.
In Horizons, the “I love you” is almost the easy part. The hard part is the struggle that the main characters have to go through in order to hang on to what they have found together. Ms. Ashling doesn’t make love easy for them; she makes them earn it the hard way. Clark is not only conflicted regarding his homosexuality, but his ADD and especially his family’s dismissal of him because of it has impacted his self-worth. Jody, who has been hurt by losing a lover in the past, doesn’t want to be stuck in an illicit relationship with someone who refuses to publically acknowledge who they are. He knows that he cannot make Clark’s decisions for him, though – Clark has had enough of that in his life already.
This story is told using two different points of view – both Jody’s and Clark’s. Jody’s POV is done in the third person, which one might think of as “typical” narration. Clark, on the other hand, tells his story in the first person. I found this approach to be unique and also quite effective. Clark’s narration brings the reader into his character on a very personal level. While he would be personable without this point of view, this makes Clark someone that the reader can truly care about. We experience his confusion, his joy, and his devastation on a very intimate level, and we are therefore quite invested in him winning his happiness.
Horizons is a well-written and emotional (but not maudlin) story, and I found myself becoming quite involved in the lives and travails of the heroes. I rooted for Clark to forget his obnoxious family and the expectations that others had placed on him and for him to grab on to the love that was being offered. I also hoped that Jody wouldn’t give up on the young man and that he would understand the strain Clark was going through. If anyone deserves a happy ending, it is these two. Overall, Ms. Ashling has given us an enjoyable read with Horizons; I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for more of her work.
You can access the review here http://www.bookwenches.com/may09reviews.htm