cover image Becoming Ted

Becoming Ted

Matt Cain. Kensington, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4967-4594-1

British journalist Cain (The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle) serves up a breezy second-act story that traces a 40-something gay man’s unlikely journey to drag stardom. After nearly 20 years spent with the snobbish Giles in the quaint English town of St. Luke’s-on-Sea, Ted Ainsworth discovers one morning that his husband has been cheating on him. They break up in a flash, and Ted is left reeling—he dodges messages from his best friend Denise and sulks through shifts at one of his family’s ice cream parlors. When he regains his footing, he decides to pursue his long-dormant dream of becoming a drag queen. It’s a big leap from his previous life (Giles discouraged him from dancing or dressing up), but with Denise’s help, Ted constructs the leggy, foul-mouthed alter-ego Gail Force. Meanwhile, he frets about his disinterest in running the family business, and is further troubled by a series of threatening anonymous letters. After he falls for secretly gay Polish construction worker Oskar, Ted wonders if his new flame will support his drag ambitions. There’s too much padding—Ted’s angst about his lifelong distaste for ice cream is especially overplayed—but Cain constructs a soothing if familiar tale of self-empowerment. This sticky-sweet confection goes down smooth enough. Agent: Sophie Lambert, C&W. (June)