Published by Cathedral Rock Press on November 1st 2017
Genres: Fiction, LGBT, General, Literary, Romance, Contemporary
From the author of The Fish Tales comes the long-awaited second book in the Venery series. A Charm of Finches follows Javier Landes as he retires from escorting and invites love to be his friend. He meets an art therapist named Steffen Finch and what starts as casual deepens into a passionate relationship—everything Jav has ever wanted, and everything he fears losing.
Stef’s business card reads Curator & Sailor. His creativity and insightful nature have made him into a talented therapist, the one to call for tough cases. His professional success can’t conceal a deep need to connect with someone, but Javier Landes is the last person Stef expected.
Geronimo "Geno" Caan is Stef's most challenging case. To cope with his ordeal, he's allowed an alter-ego called Mos to make decisions, and now lives a double life within a web of lies. Under Stef’s navigation, Geno uses art to express what Mos forbids to be spoken aloud. But as Geno’s attachment to Stef gradually extends to Jav, the boundaries between professional and personal begin to blur.
Over the course of a year, Jav, Stef and Geno form an unexpected and unconventional triangle, revealing how men make love in times of war and how love is a great wisdom made up of small understandings. A Charm of Finches is an epic tale of survival and secrets guaranteed to make you think and feel and remember.
A CHARM OF FINCHES
by Suanne Laqueur
So. This is it. I daresay that this will be my favorite book of 2017 because I can’t see how you can top this story. Big words, I know and I’m already taking away the conclusion of my review but what the hell. Bear with me.
Apart from losing his mother at fifteen, Geno was a normal teenager. He has a deep connection with his brother Carlos that only twins have.
They had a name for their shared space, and within it, they had secret identities. Carlos was Los. Geronimo was Mos. Los and Mos lived in the starry world of Nos, Spanish for we. Nos rhymed with dos, Spanish for two.
In one night Geno’s world comes to a screeching halt – forty-four hours of horror make him hand over his life to an imaginary alter-ego.
My heart burned for this beautiful, sweet boy who’d had nothing but kindness in him and felt so deeply, his loneliness devastated me. He was betrayed in the vilest of ways by somebody he couldn’t expect to turn on him, unspeakable things were done to him.
Carlos took his broken heart where he wasn’t supposed to be. He walked out of the henhouse and left the door wide open, letting the Fox in.
Restoring a measure of sanity and trust is a Herculean task and takes a strong, resilient heart. Geno was broken nearly beyond repair and what he endured would have killed a lesser person. His way back to the surface after disassociating himself from his broken self is paved with spikes but he braves every obstacle and one by one loyal champions join his battles to see him through the worst time of his life.
“They didn’t get the best of you.” – Stef
One of those is Steffen Finch, an art therapist working with the cases nobody else wants to touch because they know he is the best and if somebody can crack a case like this one it would be Stef. He is bisexual, divorced and we met him first at the end of An Exaltation of Larks, when he was being introduced to Javier Landes. The attraction is instant and it was sweet to see how they danced around each other until they felt safe enough to open up to each other. What then ensued was sheer beauty and bliss.
“Jesus, I can’t believe the shit I tell you sometimes,” Stef said.
“My ears are the round holes for your square thoughts,” Jav said.
“Dude, don’t make me like you.”
Stef is a wonderful character, uniting wisdom, kindness and strength. He finds Geno’s cracks in his armor and slowly, slowly starts to fill them with light. Although he should keep a professional distance Stef’s admiration for Geno turns into a brotherly love and soon the lines start to blur. I adored Stef and his love for his job. He is intuitive and an inexhaustible well of ideas how to make life for his patients a little more bearable. And even in the most heartbreaking therapy session Stef finds a way to Geno.
“Your heart is bigger than hate,” Stef said. “You tell the story. Words or pictures, nothing’s going to push me away, all right? If you can live it, I can listen to it. If your heart can survive it, mine can too.
When Geno’s ordeal becomes to much for Stef, Jav anchors him and gives him peace.
Jav just ended his career as an escort and has a little bit of a midlife crisis. His life consisted of catering to his clients needs, socially and sexually. He identifies as bisexual but has never had a serious relationship and the two men he was in love were never a possibility for one reason or another. So here he is, trying to figure out what to do next, yearning for a real connection when he meets Stef. I have no words for my love for Jav and Stef. Their chemistry was explosive!
Tonight their bedroom overflowed with magnificent sex. Death by sex. Grandiose, over-the-top sex. They were making love like architects of the universe. Fucking like mathematicians. Multiplying, dividing, canceling each other out and starting from zero.
They were yin and yang, two puzzle pieces who fit perfectly. Both of them good men from the tips of their hair to the tips of their toes, with a huge capability to love. We read about Jav’s backstory in An Exaltation of Larks – he faced his struggles with courage and dignity and it’s a miracle that he became such a kind-hearted soul. I also adored his brotherly bond with Geno.
Suanne’s description of Geno’s horrific ordeal may not be overly graphic but reading about it is a deeply visceral, unsettling and upsetting experience. It left me hopeless at first – because how do you come back from this? How do you find the will to go on after you lose everything and most of all your innocence and youth? I have nothing but admiration and love for all the characters but Geno in particular. The way he clawed his way back into life was inspiring.
The most harrowing and disturbing parts will destroy you but those blows are cushioned by a cast with the ability to give unconditional love to a boy who has had his world turned up-side-down. I adored every single character in this story. And then there is the humor that is sprinkled throughout the story that helps you get past the hard parts.
“Gee, Stef,” Geno said loudly. “Max sure looks mad at you.”
“Because Max is mad at me, Geno,” Stef said in the same tone.
“I’m afraid that’s confidential, Geno, but you could ask him.”
Geno leaned out of his chair to look under the table. “Max, why are you mad at Stef?”
“He won’t marry my mother.”
Geno straightened up and raised his eyebrows at Stef. “Now I’m mad at you too.”
“I know, I suck.”
The author did her research on art therapy and the historical facts. I also loved her figurative analogy of a hen house for Geno’s home before and after this horrific event. Despite the devastation and atrocity this is a story full of hope, love and beauty.
Suanne Laqueur has found her niche in this so competitive profession. She writes intelligent stories about unconventional characters who have depth and profound stories to tell. Even the side characters are multi-dimensional and equipped with a backstory. She has been gifted with buckets of talent and really makes the most of it. If you follow Ms Laqueur’s posts on social media you see a strong, smart, outspoken woman who is funny as hell and her personality shines through in her storytelling.
While this book can be read as a standalone I urge you to read An Exaltation of Larks – the beauty of A Charm of Finches will be enhanced. If you haven’t been introduced to her writing yet please prioritize her – Suanne Laqueur is one of a kind.