cover image LAST SUMMER


Michael Thomas Ford, . . Kensington, $23 (408pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-0405-9

After a string of humorous essay collections, Ford (The Little Book of Neuroses) expands his repertoire with this brimful first novel about life, love and self-discovery over the course of a steamy Provincetown summer. Among the bevy of characters Ford introduces is Josh Felling, who flees to a friend's guesthouse to mull over his boyfriend's recent infidelity, though a day later he's already lusting over Reilly Brennan, the soon-to-be-married guesthouse repairman who might not be so straight after all. Midwestern runaway teen Toby Evans arrives soon after, and meets sweet local transgender performer Emmeline, who takes him in; next comes influential Hollywood producer Reid Truman and his boyfriend, hot closeted actor Ty Rusk. A quick weekend away turns into an indefinite stay for Josh, who has decided to write a novel and agrees to donate sperm so that Jackie, a local lesbian restaurant owner, can bear a child. Complicating matters for the Hollywood duo is Devin, an opportunistic local girl who insinuates herself into their lives by agreeing to pose as Ty's New York "love interest," but has big plans to expose their relationship to the tabloids instead. This is a slight cut above more mainstream gay fiction offerings, thanks to Ford's crisp prose and snappy, contemporary dialogue. Though the characters wade across some all-too-familiar waters, it's the sandy, barefoot-friendly setting that morphs all the melodrama into a satisfying beach book—and a pleasant fiction debut for Ford. Agent, Mitchell Waters. (Aug.)

Forecast:Readers of Ford's popular essay collections may feel that Last Summer lacks bite (and it arrives rather late in the season for a beach book), but the author's familiar name should help it stand out among other gay romances.