Thrown Off Track by Tamsen Parker. 2018.
This contemporary m/m romance novella centering two bandmates just wrecked me. I was a puddle on the ground by the end. It’s all about layers of relationship and being seen and known and held in the fullness of self, and has this beautiful arc that felt complex and gut wrenching, and has a hard earned happy ending. I adored the MCs in this bandmates/friends to lovers romance so much, who they are as people, and who they are together as a couple. I was utterly charmed by Teague’s continued attention to his size as a thing that might intimidate people and would impact how they experienced him, his care around that stole my heart. I adore Christian’s sweetness and his devotion to Teague, and loved reading about his relationship to his music.
This novella has got all the good stuff I find consistently in Parker’s work, and then it just stepped up a couple notches and packed in this gorgeous, carefully rendered depiction of desire and embodiment and honoring of self that I adored. I appreciated having read Love on the Tracks, a romance involving a bandmate of the two MCs, as it helped give context, but I think this would work well as a stand alone. I loved the way the conflict around approaches to being a successful musician worked in the story, how it built and how it was slowly resolved.
The demisexual representation resonated so deeply and intensely for me; I was utterly undone by it. It’s definitely a self-discovery arc around demisexual identity, which worked for me with this story. There were only a couple of things I wish had been different about the demisexual rep: the allosexual MC offers the ace spec MC access to language about ace spec identities which puts him in this expert position that made me a bit uncomfortable, and there’s a reference to wanting to be “more than friends”, a phrase that prioritizes sexual and romantic relationships.
I cannot describe how much the making out & sex scenes worked for me, the layers and the pace of them, the way they navigated touch and boundaries, the intensity of them, how the second one showed the fullness of sex without the need for reciprocity around touch. I cannot measure how much it meant to read a scene like that as a stone butch ace questioning (probably demisexual) reader. I feel completely biased in this review because it meant the world to me to get to read this story at this particular moment in my life. I will be clutching this story to my chest for a long time.
- Bisexual demisexual man MC
- Gay man MC
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
Multiple references to an ace-spectrum character having a lot of sex he did not especially want to have because of general social pressure. On the page sex.
- Source of the book: I read this book as part of an ARC for the anthology Exposed, which I received from the publisher.
- I have had some contact with the author on Twitter.
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Other Relevant Reviews
- Review of Rogue Hearts, an anthology which contains a novella in this series by Tamsen Parker
- Review of Fire on the Ice, part of a connected series by Tamsen Parker
- Review of On the Brink of Passion, part of a connected series by Tamsen Parker
- Review of Seduction on the Slopes, part of a connected series by Tamsen Parker
- Review of Love on the Tracks, part of a connected series by Tamsen Parker
- Review of The Cartographer, also by Tamsen Parker