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Empower Ballads

Updated: Mar 27


Bisexual bassist Wells Tollefson´s rock band The Swarm is in the middle of an almost meteoric rise towards fame. While on break in the Bay Area of California after completing a multi-month national tour, Wells and his other bandmates discover that they have been invited to Rocktoberfest--a huge break that could change their careers forever. Will he be able to handle the pressure that comes with success? How is his rock-n-roll lifestyle affecting his personal relationships?

His boyfriend, gay IT guy Noah, has been exceptionally giving and understanding for months. He agreed to let Wells have sex with as many female groupies on the road as he wants, so long as he doesn´t sleep with any other guy; Noah feels that he´d rather have some of him, instead of none of him. But this compromise is reaching its limit, and Noah wants more. When Wells comes back from the road and before he travels to Rocktoberfest, Noah shares that he wants Wells to meet his sister and his parents. The suggestion backfires, kicking up all of Wells´ insecurities about commitment and love in his intimate relationships. Over the next few days, the two will face numerous personal and professional pressures. How will Noah and Wells change? Will their relationship survive?

Loose Strings is the latest by prolific spicy romance author Christie Gordon, part of the 12-part Road to Rocktoberfest series. Don´t stress if you haven´t read the other novels within that series; one of Gordon´s accomplishments as a writer is that this book satisfies as stand-alone novel, readers will be able to swiftly drop right into the action with these characters without feeling lost at sea. However, by the time you are finished with Loose Strings, it is likely you will want to spend more time with these rockstars and their boyfriends.

Gordon is a lover of yaoi, a distinct form of fictional storytelling that originated in Japan during the 1970s that depitcs homoerotic male characters written by and for heterosexual women. For nearly 15 years, she has channeled her love for this genre into writing her own romance novels such as Loose Strings. As a romance, this book indeed emphasizes the inner lives of her central characters: chapters alternate between Wells & Noah, plunging readers into their headspace and learning firsthand about her characters´ insecurities, desires, and doubts. As one progresses through the story, one can sympathize with Wells´ hesitation at wanting to commit, especially when Noah´s ex-boyfriend Anthony appears from the past and wants to start over. At the same time, by entering into Noah´s perspective, we can identify with his frustration over Wells´ mixed signals, as well as feel his jealousy when we learn of his past relationships with groupies while on the road with The Swarm.

In addition to their emotional entanglements, however, Gordon also frequently shows Noah and Wells getting it on. She depicts scenes between these two lovers with a great balance of raunch and tenderness, animal lust and affectionate playfulness. Refreshingly, the fictional universe of Loose Strings is one where queer men are under no threat from anyone--there are no moments of homophobia in this novel, no danger of being bashed, nor concern for any form of danger in their day to day lives. Further, Wells´ fellow bandmate Ash is an old boyfriend, as are the members of another band that they meet. As Noah´s sister Bella jokes at one point, "Is everyone you know gay or what?"

Sure, it´s a kind of utopia, but at a time when there is so much anti-LGBTQ hatred in America, from online media to legislative action, Christie Gordon´s latest novel provides a welcome respite. What if gay and bisexual men were just allowed to be--to prepare for their tour, work on their relationships, hang out with their friends and lovers, and more? Loose Strings gives readers a glimpse of what such a world might look like.

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