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Love Wanted, Will Travel: Stories for Older Men & Younger Lovers (Volume 4)

Love Wanted, Will Travel (Stories for Older Men & Younger Lovers #4) - Don Schecter I always enjoy reading Don’s stories. The prose flows fluently and there’s always enough uniqueness to lift his stories out of the ordinary. When Don asked me to beta read them for him once again, I was very happy to oblige. Not that I have to do much. His craft skills are superb. My job is to alert him to the odd typo or missed comma. Even more rarely, content-wise I might spot a section that needs further exploration or elaboration, but that is usually it.After sending my input back, I was eager to see the final stories in their context. Re-reading them as parts of a whole with a theme in mind. In this case it was travel. Physical travel which enlightens and also the journey through life which broadens the mind.The anthology starts with an amusing tale that includes (off camera) sex with females. One of the reasons I read Don’s books and use him as my beta reader is that I want to discover the reality of life as a gay man. Not the romantic version found in books. Sure, some have sex scenes and are about love, but just as important for me are the fears, fantasies and physical reactions.After I read “The Widows” I asked Don whether that would have been physically possible for a gay man. His answer was an emphatic “Yes”. Physical stimulation produces results without the need for emotional connection.This tale touches a number of taboos in the m/m romance trope but skirted the pitfalls brilliantly. No infidelity, no manipulation a pure win/win situation. Well done.There is definitely a food theme running through many of the stories and most of these come from other countries, another aspect of broadening your horizons.I love the way the protagonists in Don’s stories aren’t all hunky twenty year old clichéd gay guys (although they all might have been once!). In “Mama’s Boy”, the hero is sixty five but still young enough to yearn for love. This story is long and deserving of attention although it may not be immediately satisfying. After reading it, my main thoughts were sympathy for Paolo, but in all his thoughts and interests and being so set in his ways was he really ready for another man?The next story “Seconds” is my favorite. Don did a great job. While it may not be involved with physical travel, there is definitely a journey of discovery for the hero. There’s also a paragraph in it that reflects an attitude that I’ve noticed frequently in books written by gay men but rarely seen in books written by women: “As I grew up, I emulated my daddy—married my high school sweetheart, had two kids, started my own business—but I guess some part of me always felt that the gender division wasn’t quite fair.Successful as I was, I never lost that little-boy feeling that I wanted someone to take care of me.” The current trend in trying to avoid writing gay men as “chicks with dicks” creates protagonists who are very macho figures. Not that men having these feelings need to be outwardly feminine, but it is the absence of this feeling of wanting to be “owned” by their lover that is often neglected. “Seconds” explores this beautifully. It also explores the agony of choice for a man who thought he was in a loving relationship and then discovers he loves another man. What is he to do? “It seemed to me that in the old days, when homosexuality was a crime, things were easier. You stayed with the wife and went underground with your man. You split yourself in two: frustrated at home and living for the moments of ecstasy in secret. But nowadays, you have choices. I had choices. You can leave the wife and marry the lover. But what do you do when you love your wife? And kids? And home? And the life you’ve been leading? Well, then I guess you have to consider the nature of love.“I love Laurel and my children. They are my family. I’ve got history with them, and obligations. But I yearn for my lover; every fiber in my body aches and cries for Clay. To hold him, have him hold me. I need him in me, on me, around me. I want to wear him like a second skin.”Contrary to expectations, it is a sweet HEA for all.There is a lot of physical motion in the next story, “Reel Life” but this starts out as just running around a track. The character Don draws is typical of his writing skill. You can picture the boy, heck you’ve probably met a few like him yourself. It’s therefore interesting to get inside this boys head. You may not agree with his thoughts and motivations but you can definitely agree that they suit him.This is more a story about barriers that have to be crossed. One of the most important of these is the concept of commitment. In his words he was...”floating rudderless on the seas of higher education.Other barriers abound. Like the fact that the character (like Don) has Jewish heritage. When reading this story, just remember these are a form of memoir for Don. Adapting (not retelling) his life experiences (and work experiences) to tell a story. That alone makes the detailed background interesting.Next comes “Rudy Redux” which is very much in vein of Don’s older man younger love tales.It’s interesting reading stories where sex is just another facet of a relationship between two people, but not the make or break cornerstone.This review is taking on short story status itself, so I won’t go into what’s “In the Bag” which is probably just as well. Finally, “Dress Right” gives a lovely picture of a whole range of characters some we met in the other stories, and fascinating characters they are.Have Love/Will Travel stands on equal footing with the other three books in this series. All are great reads.