Title: Dawn to Dusk
Series: Lover’s Journey, Book One
Author: Alina Popescu
Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary
Length: Novel (over 50000 words)
That first encounter with Robert in rural Romania at eleven. A summer spent together in the same setting a year later. Their first text exchange in high school. The first sexual experience. The first heartbreak—the second and third and fourth chance. The point of total breakdown and the despair of failing. More love than anyone could have warned him about.
No matter how much time passes, no matter how different their paths, every meeting brings Edi and Robert closer together. Those stolen moments shine brighter than any. Yet loving Robert is not easy, not when Edi wants to be true to himself and is met with dishonesty. Or when Robert keeps parading new conquests and ignores Edi more often than not.
Edi has always loved Robert, but he must decide if his journey leads to or away from his childhood friend. Is it true love or is Edi just unable to let go?
“Robert’s there,” she said. Oh, so he’s using her as an envoy. “He’s always at our place. I don’t think Aunty is too happy.”
I nodded, trying to keep my smile in place. Her family’s move across the street wasn’t a whim. Or their desire to live on their own. Tatiana and Robert’s parents and their other siblings had always had an explosive sort of relationship.
The house next to Grandma’s had changed owners too often lately. It had all first belonged to Robert’s grandparents. They’d then given it to their older son, Dumitru, adding a clause to the contract that he had to care for them until the end of their lives. They later changed their mind and gave it to Lili, Tatiana’s mother and Robert’s favorite aunt. The transition hadn’t been smooth. Lili’s husband beat the crap out of a drunk Dumitru, with the rest of the family, the grandparents, and other neighbors, doing nothing to stop it. They’d left Dumitru passed out in one of the ditches on the side of the road, dirty, smelly, and covered in blood.
My grandma had called the village’s police officer and had helped him out of the ditch. It had earned her the wrath of the rest of Robert’s family. Of course, instead of thanking her Dumitru’s brother-in-law wasn’t now serving a sentence for murder, they hated my grandma.
Tatiana’s mother hadn’t owned the house for long. Robert’s mother—who other than being Lili’s sister was also her and her daughter’s godmother—had slithered her way into changing the papers again. To appease everyone, she’d suggested Robert as the owner. The same clause of always caring for the grandparents stood, but Robert and his family were rarely here. It was Tatiana who visited them most, even if they weren’t all too loving to her.
“I’ll come by later, okay?” I said in the end, watching the grin stretch on her face.
“Not too late!” She waved and ran back home.
I lied. There, I admit it. In January, when I said Alina Popescu’s novel, Brotherly, was the best thing I’ll read in 2016, I lied… or at the very least I was premature and just plain wrong. Brotherly was good. Very Good. Great even. Dawn to Dusk is just as good or even better.
Alina’s writing style gets to me every time. It’s open and honest. It’s a good thing when you’re trying to tackle an issue as she had done in Brotherly and it also helps when trying to show a realistic portrayal of two boys falling for each other.
Brotherly, was strictly and obviously taboo. There is a bit of taboo in Dawn to Dusk, but only because the story starts with the main character being eleven years old. Nothing sexually explicit is told, at that point anyway, but the love interest is four years older and we are shown how Edi deals with his sexuality, including a kiss at thirteen and a b.j. at sixteen. Both these scenes might make some people uncomfortable, but in my view, it is extremely reminiscent of reality. Young people do experiment and as long as both parties are willing and around the same age, I don’t see an issue with telling the story.
The dialogue is honest and realistic. Over the course of the story, as the main character ages, we the reader, get to know both characters very well. We experience Edi’s apprehension about his feelings towards Robert and the fear and relief Edi feels when he finally reveals his feelings. We find out that Robert is less than comfortable with his own sexuality, but is drawn to Edi.
Edi and Robert’s relationship is tumultuous at best. Robert only grudgingly admits eventually that he has an emotional attachment to Edi and that it’s not just sex, but it isn’t enough. Social and family pressures restrict Robert’s ability to show his true feelings. This doesn’t help Edi who closes in on himself, wanting Robert and knowing he can never truly have him.
The ending is not a happily-ever-after, but is amazing in its realism. Sometimes relationships are hard work. Sometimes one party has to sacrifice more than the other. Sometimes, the sacrifices aren’t the same.
As I understand it, Dawn to Dusk is the first in a series. I’ll be okay either way, but I almost wish the next part doesn’t include Edi or Robert. I like the ambiguous ending. I think it’s healthy not to always have a fairy-tale ending. Romance is more than the absolute. Although, whatever the sequel is, I look forward to reading it.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01I8FG8P4
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01I8FG8P4
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B01I8FG8P4
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01I8FG8P4
Prizes: 1 x $10 WIP Gift Card, 1 x $5 WIP Gift Card, 1 x ecopy of Br0th3rly (Famous on the Inernet, Book One).
About the author
Writer, traveler, and coffee addict, Alina Popescu has been in love with books all her life. She started writing when she was ten and she has always been drawn to sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural realm. Born and raised in Romania, she finds her inspiration in books of all genres, in movies, and the occasional manga comic book. She is a proud geek who needs her fast Internet and gadgets more than she needs air.
Site & Blog: http://alina-popescu.com