Klehr, Kevin. “Drama Queens with Love Scenes”, Wilde City Press, 2014.
Dead and Not Loving It
(Note: I reviewed this book when it first appeared from another publisher but I really did not give it my all. After rereading it last night, I realized that I had missed quite a lot. This review feels in the spaces I left out of my very short and earlier review).
Allan and Warwick are very good friends and they both are dead (Yes, you read that correctly). As we can well imagine, they do not love being dead but they do have a bit of help with their situation—Samantha, a blonde hottie and Guy, an angel who is not all secure in who he is. Allan has been keeping a secret that even his best friend Warwick does not know and that is that he has a crush on Warwick. When he tells this to Guy, he is very hurt to see that Warwick has fallen in love with someone else, Pedro, a playwright.
Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro. This gives Allan some work to do but first he must deal with the fact that he is dead. What happens next is that all four of the main characters are back-stabbers and liars in matters of the heart (yes, even the dead heart).
At first you may feel as I did before I actually began to read the book and that is that this a convoluted study that really sounds silly. Yet beneath this is a look at truth. Allan and Warwick do not know why they died but they realize that death, once taking over, cannot be challenged or fought off. As they get used to the situation, they make some new friends—Guy, the angel for one. Pedro, the playwright for another and Samantha, a has-been movie star from the 50s. Not having much to do, they act in one of Pedro’s plays and here we see drama beget drama. When Warwick falls for Pedro, Allan becomes jealous and he is upset that he has not been able to tell Warwick how he feels about him.
As I read, I thought to myself that the afterlife that the characters here share is really kind of an ideal place. There is drama, drink and flirting all the time. Allan is our narrator so we therefore see things through his perspective (and he is/was? quite witty). He shares his inner feelings with us and because he speaks in the first person, the story is quite intimate. Now that Allan has to deal with his unrequited love for Warwick, we watch him grow as he decides to go after what he really wants. And just as there is drama, there is also a good serving of camp and this only makes the novel more fun to read.
The heaven we see here reminded of what the Catholics refer to as purgatory. It seems to be a bus stop on the road to heavenly bliss—a place where souls can tidy up their affairs before they get past those pearly gates. Now this heaven is divided into different areas and our characters find themselves in what is known as the Limelight Quarter, a place for theater folks. This is an immediate hint that drama will follow and it does so right away when Warwick runs off with Pedro.
I suppose I would classify this as a m/m romance but it is much more than that. It is a parody/satire on how we live and love but sent in a heavenly place; the last train station before eternity. The novel also is about looking at and evaluating relationships with others and with ourselves. Communication is perhaps the most underrated tool for dealing with others and if Allan had just told Warwick how he felt about him when they were still alive, they would never have had to go through what they did (but then, we would not have this deliciously readable book).
Klehr has created some wonderful characters and his prose style immediately pulls us into the story and actually into the characters who actually become our friends. I had a great time reading and I believe you will as well. The sequel is also due out soon.