Don’t Trust the Cut
The “cut” of the title cuts a number of ways – from former Marine Jesse Bauer’s close-cropped haircut to Tucker Grey’s penchant for self-mutilation when his life turns rough. While Jesse seems more trustworthy than cutting himself as far as putting life’s ups and downs in perspective, Tucker has to determine which can ultimately bring him peace.
When Tucker first meets Jesse at a mutual friend’s birthday party, sparks fly between them. Tucker is wary because his last boyfriend, another big guy, abused him. Jesse, however, is stunned since even though he’s long known he prefers men to women, he’s never acted on his preference except once in high school.
Jesse has spent his years as a Marine with his “girlfriend” Miranda, who has insinuated herself into his life to such a degree that she actually thinks he’ll marry her even though she knows he’s a closeted gay man. Tucker, too, has a female best friend in Alison, an acerbic yet loyal roommate who is Tucker’s staunchest champion.
For Jesse and Tucker to come together, not only must they get past their own baggage but also they must win over the other one’s faithful female companion. In Boehme’s story that’s a lot to ask from one of the women.
What makes this book a different from other opposites attract romances is Tucker’s reaction to bad times in his life. Boehme explains Tucker’s habit of cutting himself so that it’s understandable in its own way. Tucker’s reasons for cutting himself may not be the reason why most cutters take the step, but his reason is perfectly understandable within Tucker’s framework.
Another difference between this novel and many other gay romances is how important women other than mothers are to the men involved. Tucker relies on the grounded Alison, who adores him and protects him like a mother hen. Unlike Jesse’s Miranda, Alison doesn’t have an ulterior motive. Alison doesn’t want to marry Tucker while Miranda is positive Jesse will marry her.
Both women in their own ways structure how Tucker and Jesse interact, and both are proactive about protecting their men. This is quite a change from most gay romances where women rarely show up and if they do, they have minor roles in the action.
The crux of the novel, however, rests on how these two broken men mend themselves and shore up each other so that they can have a happily ever after. Boehme is honest about this in the epilogue, which is again a refreshing change. While this is a romance and Tucker and Jesse are amazingly resilient and try to be adaptive, Boehme understands that life isn’t made up of choices set in stone but must be constantly reevaluated and renewed to work out well.
Now all I have to do is look up Boehme’s backlist and wait for his next book. He’s definitely on my reading radar from now on.