Gerry B's Book Reviews

Shy, by John Inman

Love and mayhem down on the farm…



shy - coverStory blurb: Dating is hard enough. Throw in an incontinent Chihuahua, an unrequited love affair, a severe case of social anxiety disorder, a dying father, and a man-eating hog and it becomes darned near impossible. Still, it takes two to tango—and when Tom Morgan, a mild-mannered assistant bank manager with a debilitating case of shyness, meets Frank Wells, who is straight off the farm and even shyer than he is, sparks start flying.

Just when Tom and Frank’s burgeoning love affair is rolling along nicely, Frank must return to Indiana to oversee the farm while his father battles cancer. Tom tags along to help Frank out and finds himself slopping hogs and milking cows and wondering what the hell happened to his orderly citified existence. And what’s with all the chickens? Tom hates chickens!

With Frank’s help, Tom grits his teeth and muddles through. Funny what a couple of guys can accomplish when they’re crazy about each other. Not even nine hundred chickens can stand in the way of true love.

About the author: John has been writing fiction for as long as he can remember. Born on a small farm in Indiana, he now resides in San Diego, California where he spends his time gardening, hiking and biking the trails and canyons of San Diego, and of course, writing. He and his partner share a passion for theater, books, film, and their chihuahua, Sophie, who firmly believes the world owes her a comfortable existence and is in no way shy about collecting.


Review by Gerry Burnie

I have long lamented (grumbled) about the fact that many GBLT books tend to lean toward the depressing side of life with a standard fare of angst and self-doubt regarding one’s sexuality. Admittedly, these have been, and still are, a regrettable part of GBLT life, but from my experience there have been many more humorous moments than sad. So when I saw the cooky cover of Shy, by John Inman [Dreamspinner Press, 2012], I felt it was time for a little humour.

The basic story has Tom Morgan, a SAD sufferer (“Social Anxiety Disorder” – not to be confused with “Seasonal Affective Disorder”), going to a party hosted by his ex-boyfriend and hisnew boyfriend—a real nogoodnic-cad named Stanley.

At this party he meet’s Frank Wells, a displaced farm boy, who also happens to be Stanley-the-cad’s brother. By coincidence Frank also suffers from a social anxiety complex, and so the two find comfort in one another’s limitations.

As it happens Frank’s father is critically ill back on the farm, and so Frank is called back to keep things going, taking Tom (an urbane New Yorker) with him.

Also playing the comic relief role is a loose-bowelled chihuahaua by the name of “Pedro,” a razorback hog, and a flock of chickens the size of Galapagos Islands. Therefore, there is no shortage of comedic circumstances, and Inman delivers on most of them.

I connected with this story in a number of ways. I too was a farm boy, and as such I took a sort of perverse pleasure from watching my urban cousins trying to steer themselves around chicken dropping, which are like trying to sidestep snowflakes. So I got a good chuckle from some of Tom’s fastidious antics.

I liked the banter as well, but here I thought it was perhaps a bit overdone. In other words, I sometimes felt that what was meant as repartee was merely bitchy, and made Tom look like a GECQ (“grand eighteenth-century queen”.)

I also join others in thinking that Stanley’s ‘no-good-ness’ was a bit overdone, but I defend the author’s choice regarding his fate. It’s his license. He created the characters, and so he can dispose of them the way he wishes. Therein lies the ‘author-as-god’ syndrome. 🙂

Altogether I thought it was a fun read with a few limitations. Three and one-half bees.


Editorial comment: For some inexplicable reason, four of the last six or seven novels I have read have all had similar themes; i.e. the main character (or in this case, one of the MCs) grows up on a farm or ranch, and is called back because of an illness or other emergency. In the other novels, the returning boy meets a former admirer or heart throb, and after a bit of business they fall in love and live happily ever after

I’m sure this is merely a coincidence, but is there a back-to-the-land movement I’m not aware of?

I mention this because you may be plotting a new story just now, and if so the boy returning to the farm has been done before!


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Interested in Canadian history? Want to see more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

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July 8, 2013 - Posted by | Gay fiction, Gay romance


  1. Gerry, I continue to thoroughly enjoy your reviews. And more times than not… like this one, I buy the book that’s been reviewed. Thanks for your continued efforts. Now, this is not a ‘please do me a favor thing’, but I have an e-friend that has written something like 18 books. One about cousins that fall in love that no one would publish, Grand Tour, so he finally self-published it. Another is among my favorites, Bodies of Work. Anytime you get the chance, I would appreciate your review of Etienne’s books; and I know he would also. Thanks. Rock

    Comment by Rock Hunter | July 8, 2013 | Reply

    • Rock: So good to hear from you again. About all I can promise regarding Etienne’s books are that I will have a look at one (to be fair I generally only do one review per author), but just when I can actually do a review is hard to say. Tell him to send me a PDF at the address on the front page.

      Interestingly, both Two Irish Lads and Coming of Age are about cousin lovers.


      Gerry B.

      Comment by Gerry B. | July 8, 2013 | Reply

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