Dear Alex by Clare London

91m0hOW6JyL._SL1500_Title: Dear Alex
Author: Clare London
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (39 pages)
Publisher: Jocular Press (November 26, 2014)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 4 hearts
Reviewer: Zane
Blurb: Alex Palmer writes the “Dear Alex” Agony Uncle column for Meant for Men – a magazine aimed at gay men’s life and issues. What started as a genuine and ground-breaking feature has become a snark fest, due to Alex’s boredom and personal cynicism. His respect for the correspondents has dwindled away in direct relation to his own self-respect as a journalist. He no longer believes in his readers’ search for a soulmate, or in his own column’s headline: “Is He Really the One?”

In the early days, Robbie Cooke was Alex’s co-presenter on the magazine. They’d been lovers, too. But unlike Alex, Robbie still sees the anguish and need behind the letters they receive. He wants to help the writers, rather than turn their situations into journalistic entertainment. He and Alex may still have to work together, but their fundamental disagreement on how to run the column tore them apart as romantic partners.

Excess drinking and a succession of casual lovers are wearing Alex out, yet he’s in denial. He’s convinced he doesn’t need “Dear Alex” to set him straight about what’s wrong with his life. But when he’s alerted to the fact that Robbie may be in danger, he realises that what he’s really missing is his ex-lover’s care, compassion and love. The problem is, by the time Alex is desperate to make amends, Robbie may have already moved on.

This was originally published in the Dreamspinner Press anthology “Make Me a Match”.

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Review: Alex wasn’t what one would call likeable, but I am easily amused by a good unapologetic slut, so that drew me right in. Apparently Alex has managed to drink and screw himself stupid because he doesn’t remember throwing the best thing in his life away. I’ll have to urge you to suspend a little belief on that one (who forgets a bad breakup?) because it’s worth it.

As Alex muddles through his mess of an existence, a funny thing starts to happen. He slowly realizes what he’s done to his life and what he’s lost, and begins to feel again. This is where Clare London shines. It’s her writing that does this character justice, redeems him and makes us feel for him. The path he takes to this redemption of both himself and his previously doomed relationship is what makes this story a stand-out.

There was quite a bit of emotional depth for a quick read, and even though I thought Robbie was pretty much insane for holding a torch for Alex, I was happy to see it all work out. I’ve always liked reading Clare London, and this is no different.

Set to the backdrop of numerous ‘Dear Alex’ letters, this was a short and enjoyable (though not necessarily easy) read that I’d recommend in a heartbeat.

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through **