The Fall Guide
The androgynous-looking, make-up-wearing Eric, who writes a popular blog about beauty, has come up with a line of products specifically aimed at men, to help them retain skin tone and elasticity. Eric’s about to preview his products at a beauty expo in Las Vegas when his boyfriend dumps him.
Undaunted, Eric sets up his booth only to be disappointed the first day when he gets little traffic or interest. Glumly walking around the casino of the hotel that night he meets music producer Devon, who gives him a few tips on marketing his products and making his booth more appealing. Finding an all-night copy place, Eric revamps his approach with new brochures and redone posters, happy to find that Devon’s suggestions work beautifully and buyers flock to his booth. So begins a love affair between equals and the birth of a new enterprise.
While a lot of the book is devoted to Eric and Devon’s love life and their becoming closer to each other, much of the story goes into detail about Eric’s sometimes painful steps from blog to viable business.
Eric refuses to rely on Devon for financial support, even though Devon comes from money and is now independently wealthy. Readers will respect Eric since he knows that mixing business and love is very risky and rife with pitfalls.
Eric isn’t a flake, which makes him even more likeable. He digs in at each step and works in the trenches, ordering product, advertising it, packaging it and taking it to the post office. Grudgingly he agrees to let Devon introduce him to potential investors, but ultimately has the innate business savvy to recognize which are a good fit and which would be disastrous.
Devon too is a wonderful character – very supportive of Eric. And while at first Devon is insulted that Eric won’t take his money (only his advice), he respects the man for his independence. Devon is the type of partner we all want in our lives, a person who helps when asked, but stands back to let us triumph independently. Devon never underestimates Eric’s intelligence or abilities.
Also enjoyable are the peripheral characters, Devon’s music friends and Eric’s flamboyant best friend whose cheerful demeanor helps cajole Eric out of the doldrums when the business seems to be floundering.
My only problem with the story is that I wanted to see Eric talk someone into using his products – the sales pitch in action. Devon’s father for example says he’s interested in the products, just as is an aging tennis star. While the author tells us that they understand and are enthusiastic about the products, I wish I could have seen Eric in action selling his idea.
That important omission aside, I can’t wait to read more from Andor, who managed to make a character who seemed flighty and flaky at first bloom into a multi-dimensional and interesting person as the story progressed.