Thursday, January 25, 2018

Book Review: 'Family Secrets' by Max Hudson

Max Hudson is rapidly rising as one of the more important authors of the genre of MM romances. Yes, there are many authors – men and women – who understand the subject matter and treat it well and erotically, but what Max adds to his stories is a fine sense of appreciation for history, fantasy, the effects of previous wars, and now with this book – the conflict and rules and regulations of relationships when clouded by the inner terror some men face when coming to grips with their sexuality. His chief attribute – the one that sets him apart from other MM authors – is his careful character building before the romance sets in.

The synopsis is particularly well written – ‘‘This wasn’t in freshman orientation! Luigi Dimola is trying to pass through his sophomore year by keeping his head down until the LGBTQ Alliance at the modest public university he attends is under threat. The president of the organization has left, leaving Luigi as the only viable option. Through his efforts trying to rebuild his campus club while looking after his high maintenance younger brother, Luigi must contend with bizarre campus politics, leadership retreats in the wilderness, and most of all, foster a working relationship with Sean Pemberly. As the elitist president of the LGBTQ Alliance over at a nearby private university, Sean Pemberly proves to be tough to contend with. He finds faults with everything about Luigi and seeks to mold him into the ideal representative of a campus organization. Though he initially resists Sean’s Pygmalion-like attempts to improve him, Luigi is forced to give in if he is going to save the club he loves so much. So, what if the suave and intelligent Sean has some personality traits that seem dangerous to others? Luigi should be able to reign in his growing attraction to Bascom University’s rich and respected wunderkind. Shouldn’t he? In a classic story where separate sides of the train tracks are forced to meet and interact, Luigi is forced to navigate small time politics, jealousy, sex, and a feud between families that goes back nearly a century. ‘

Intelligent, absorbing, well-scribed, FAMILY SECRETS offers not only a fine evening’s read, but also a level of understanding about the conflicts people face dealing with their gender identity and the organizations that at times compete for members. And as the title warns, old family secrets can color even interpersonal relationships. Max writes beautifully, inserts erotica in ample amounts, and brings his story to an end that is satisfying. Grady Harp, January 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.