Myles is a successful African American financial advisor in New York City, who is nearing his fortieth birthday. He has just come through a bitter divorce, and now he buries his pain in work, pouring too much time into the tiny but flourishing business he runs with his outspoken assistant, Tanisha. A strong supporting character, she supplies the flashes of comedy that light up Mylesís melancholy perspective. His divorce is the least of Mylesís problems. He suffers from the soul-destroying loneliness that results from a life spent repressing his gay sexual orientation. Now, he is so out-of-touch with his true nature that heís not really sure whatís wrong with him.
The story opens when Tanisha orders Myles to buy a painting for their barren office Ė preferably something that reflects African American culture and possesses more intrinsic artistic merit than the Thomas Kinkade print that she mockingly hangs behind her desk. Myles wanders around the streets of New York City and manages to find a gallery owned by an older black man, the imperious Mr. Kolahi (another vivid supporting character). By chance, he steps into a room filled with erotic nude paintings of black men.
In this powerful scene, the emotional shock of recognizing what he really wants sends Myles into a feverish, disoriented state. When his thoughts clear, he wonders if some of the nudes resemble him, or if he is losing his mind. Then he recognizes the artistís signature on several of the canvases. It is Davion, a lost love from high school. As teenagers, they had experimented sexually before Myles dumped Davion with no explanation. It has been about twenty years since they last saw each other.
Two of the paintings Myles buys on the spot. Now he is on a collision course with what he needs, a reunion with Davion. Will Davion want to have anything to do with Myles, who once broke his heart? Obviously, he must still have feelings for Myles whose image he is still painting into his erotic art. Myles must do some soul-searching, especially when he realizes that Davion is now living openly as a gay man. Is it fair to pursue Davion for furtive sex, which would mean treating him like a guilty secret, just like back in high school? If Myles hopes to win back the love of his life, he will have to prove himself to Davion.
The Untold Want is an unusual read, and not just because all the characters are black, which is unusual in the gay romance genre. First, I read the novella completely under the spell of its flawless writing and wrenching emotional power. I reached the end and read it again with an eye for conflict. Here, the conflict is internal. It centers on Myles finding his gay sexual orientation incompatible with his self-image of what a black man should be. What would his community think if he came out? Well, probably, they wouldnít care. (And Tanishaís reaction is especially funny.)
Meanwhile, Davion is black, which means he faced the same cultural stigma against gay men that has Myles so intimidated, except that Davion had the courage to be true to himself. The difference between the two men is underscored in a fascinating conversation in which Davion shoots down all of Mylesís flimsy objections to coming out. Myles is left speechless, knowing he is unworthy of Davion.
Should the conflict have been longer and more complex? Should Myles have suffered at the hands of his community? I donít think so. I get the feeling the author knows exactly what she is doing, and her story is as it should be. It takes courage for an author to choose NOT to invent external obstacles to excuse her viewpoint characterís cowardice and selfishness. This is a story about Mylesís evolution as a character. When he rejected Davion in high school, it was tragic because he brought on twenty years of personal misery. It is also believable because a young, flawed character wouldnít have the vision to know what he wants. Davion has always been the stronger personality. Remembering high school, Davion makes the poignant observation, ďI felt like I met the one person I was meant to be with. I felt so lucky to meet you so young.Ē
When present-day Myles tries again to make Davion a guilty secret, he shows Davion and the readers just how flawed he still is. Because of the authorís skill, I cared about Myles enough to understand his fear when Davion refuses to put up with his cowardice, and I wanted to see him work toward redemption. Iím glad I read The Untold Want because itís exhilarating to see an author succeed with a conflict that is subtle and understatedly realistic. Meanwhile, the novellaís strong points are numerous, including the flawless writing, the vivid sensory details, the smooth tight pacing, and the strong supporting characters. These people all feel authentic and I could immerse myself in their lives. The sex scenes are scorching hot and aching with emotion. There is such an intense emotional connection between Myles and Davion.
Type of Romance: LGBT Gay Romance
Title: The Untold Want
Author: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Subgenre: African-American romance, Contemporary romance
Setting: New York City
Length: 30,421 words
Sex scenes: Level 4 - Medium. See "Levels of Explicitness" in Related Links below.
Viewpoint: One third-person (Myles)
Note: I purchased this book with personal funds. I received no compensation for this review from author or publisher. Look on Amazon.com for The Untold Want