Thursday, February 12, 2015

Book Spotlight for An Infatuation by Joe Cosentino (Review)

I'm excited to introduce you to a new-to-me author who's crafted an emotional, heartwarming, and thought-provoking read.  Keep reading to get a glimpse of this book and insight into why Mr. Cosentino wrote An Infatuation.  You'll also get my impressions of it before you add it to your bookshelf.....

As a kid I played make believe constantly. “Let’s put on a show!” was my motto. I played all the characters—male and female. Hm, that explains a lot. Thankfully my parents and teachers indulged me rather than committed me.
When I told my mother I wanted to be an actor, she said, “Take this knife and stick it through my heart.” I did it anyway, and acted on stage and screen with stars like Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, Jason Robards, and Nathan Lane. I always enjoyed improvisation as an actor, and I saw writing as an extension of that. So I decided to give playwriting a try. When I told my mother I wanted to write a play, she said, “Don’t you have anything better to do?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother said that? Anyway, An Infatuation began as a one-act play. Hasn’t everyone been infatuated with someone? Think about your first infatuation. There’s nothing more powerful.
I was thinking back to my high school days, and how difficult it was back then for a gay teen before GLSEN, PFLAG, and Will and Grace. Lab partners, gym locker rooms, and club meetings were super important. At my high school reunion, I realized that all the troublemakers had become police officers, and all the homophobes had come out as gay. A story was born.
When the one-act play was a hit, I expanded and morphed it into a novella. While the situation is fictitious, Harold is based on me, and some things I went through in high school. I really admire Harold’s resilience, honesty, intelligence, wit, and ability to keep going in trying situations. His heart may be broken, but his spirit always stays intact. Harold’s devotion to his spouse is admirable, as is his honesty about his teenage infatuation with Mario. Stuart, Harold’s devoted spouse, is very much like my devoted spouse. Mario is a combination of many supposedly straight, perfect guys who gay guys so easily become infatuated with every day.I love that the story spans twenty years so we see Harold (and Mario) develop and mature in their special relationship. I also love that Harold and Mario come full circle at their high school reunion. 
I know this story will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart, because it’s all of our stories. We’ve all had an infatuation, and this novel is a testament to that. Please email me via my web site and tell me about your experience with the book. Prop your feet up, and enjoy!

With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.



As a fan of m/m books who's read numerous stories in this genre, Mr. Cosentino has crafted one that pulls at every one of your strings.  It's a heartwarming read full of sentimentality as it looks back on the past giving thoughts of "what if?".  It's full of heartache too, as well as harsh realities.  It's a story that pulls no punches as it puts you through the emotional wringer and I was completely under its spell from beginning to end.

Harold was a nerd in high school but had a big heart.  He knew he was gay, and though his parents were supportive, school was torturous as bullying was prevalent with little done about it.  The only bright spot was tutoring football jock Mario and their subtle mutual attraction bubbling beneath the surface.  At every turn Harold was supportive, letting Mario be as real as he could be with an abusive father and the weight of religious condemnation weighing on him.  Mario though always ended up hurting him as he had relegated himself to the closet, making choices that would leave him miserable.  Harold went on to happiness but never forgot Mario and at their reunion he's given the chance to fulfill a fantasy he's always had with the one boy who was perfection to him.  Will he take a chance and throw away a loving relationship for a few clandestine moments with a man who's on the edge or will he choose the comfort of predictability that he knows.

This is an intensely emotional read that is more about heartfelt feelings than the steamy side of romance.  The affection and attraction between Mario and Harold is seen more through words and deeds with only a few kisses along the way.  There are numerous unexpected twists, and characters who are larger than life, to keep me fully immersed in this tale.  Harold was a character to admire while Mario inspired pity and it's these differences, in a world where Harold was reviled while Mario was cheered, that kept me fully invested in their outcomes in a harsh world.  There's surprising humor but also moments of sadness.  It's ultimately about a life not lived and a life lived fully and I highly recommend it!

My rating for this is an A.

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Joe Cosentino is the author of the acclaimed mystery novel, Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote a musical theatre adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals), and The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Porcelain Doll (Whiskey Creek Press) and Drama Queen (Lethe Press)....

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