Ben’s “Gay” Book Breakdown | Tal Bauer Raises a Robust Romance with “How To Say I Do.”

Tal Bauer is one of those authors whose works continue to surprise me. When he puts out a new book, I will stop whatever I’m doing to give it my undivided attention. Bauer has given us political and psychological thrillers, and stories in the world of football and ice hockey. Now, he takes a serious departure with the worlds of wine-growing in Texas colliding with life-in-the-fast-lane New York public relations in How To Say I Do.

Wyatt McKinley is a true Texan’s Texan. He practically has the map of Texas on his face, arms, body, and even in his voice. He runs a farm and has a small winery. Wyatt is also openly gay. He is going to Mexico for his first vacation in 9 years at the behest of his younger brother, Liam, who is getting married at a very exclusive and high-end resort in Cancun. While Wyatt is at JFK waiting for his flight to Cancun, he spots a man dressed up in a very fine tuxedo who is all alone at a bar and getting trashed with one drink after another. Here is Noël Bettancourt, a senior public relations associate at an exclusive firm that handles all of the A-listers. Noël was supposed to be going on his honeymoon, but his fiancée (a rising star in the modeling world), Jenna, dumped him at the wedding, stating she was not in love with him. Instead, he made his way to JFK airport and started downing vodka and orange juice screwdrivers when Wyatt happened across him. Where was Noël supposed to go on his honeymoon? Cancun. Which resort? The same one where Wyatt’s brother was to get married.

Let the comedy begin.

Truth is, there is very little comedy here. It doesn’t have the intense thriller drama or gut-wrenching angst present in some of Bauer’s earlier works. Prior to its release, the phrase “rom-com” was being tossed about for How To Say I Do, but that is somewhat incorrect. While there are dashes of humor here and there, this is simply a romantic drama, with emphasis on the word DRAMA. Since this is a same-sex male romance story, there has to be some sort of sexual awakening on the part of Noël. It happens rather early while “honeymooning” in Cancun. What happens is predictable to a point, but when Noël has a moment of panic, he quickly heads back to his life in Manhattan, where the heart of this story unfolds.

With Bauer’s previous works, he has generally been able to borrow from some personal experience to help flesh out the world his characters live in, be it working in the Secret Service or even living in the world of Texas and all that it has to offer. He amazed me with his ice hockey romance stories, and here he surprises me again with the world that Noël lives in of fast-paced New York and the PR for its celebrities. I know nothing of this world, so I can only accept what Bauer wrote at face value. However, what he wrote felt right. It’s not a happy world for people with any depth of personality, and Bauer makes it all feel realistic.

Then there is Wyatt. Here is a man who is practically a saint. He was raised by very good parents (they met a tragic ending when he was a teenager) and is probably the biggest Boy Scout you could ever hope to meet. But at no point does Bauer make him TOO good to the point of becoming ridiculous. However, Wyatt’s kindness, sincerity, and modesty will instantly endear him to anyone who reads How To Say I Do. It’s as if Bauer understands the human condition, regardless of circumstance or situation. When he gives birth to his characters, and they transfer from his mind to the written page, they are fully realized as living people. Is it any wonder why Wyatt and Noël are now happily living rent-free in my brain???

Wyatt is utterly selfless, but his heartache is genuinely painful when he realizes that Noël abandoned him. When circumstances force their worlds to collide (months after Cancun), their approach to each other is authentic. It’s as if Bauer experienced something similar (I hope he hasn’t!) and was able to give precise details about what both Wyatt and Noël thought and felt. Bauer then pulls the rug out from underneath his readers in a scene with Noël, Wyatt, and his family and friends, involving a bottle of wine that has ties to Wyatt’s father. It was a moment so beautifully written and filled with grief, mourning, and love, that I had to stop reading because I could not stop crying. With all that, Bauer then gives a “happily ever after” ending that even has the slightest brush with the spiritual, which once again brought tears to my eyes.

Bauer repeatedly demonstrates his brilliance with how he tells a story. Between his exhaustive research on any given subject and the incredible use of words in his sentences, I am reminded of one simple truth; Bauer cannot produce anything that isn’t superb. I don’t know what magic he conjures to make this happen. He is simply a wizard when it comes to writing. Tal Bauer is a Sorcerer Scribe.

Given that How To Say I Do is a same-sex male romance story, it would only be fair to say that there are plenty of scenes of an explicitly sexual nature that should be read by those 18 years and over.

For writing a story that speaks to the heart regarding family and love, I give How To Say I Do 5 out of 5 glasses of Father’s Whisper wine!

How To Say I Do is available on Amazon in both print and for the Kindle. Tal Bauer also has the website Tal Bauer.



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