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My new novel soon available in English, too

My new cosy M/M murder mystery Till Death Do Us Part will be soon available on Amazon and Kobo—you can already pre-order it now!

Come on board the ‘Queen of Egypt’ and discover this new murder mystery full of witty dialogs, funny situations, and blooming love! Already short-listed for the French Gay Book Award 2020!

When Auntie Agathe invites Raphaël Poireaut, a young Parisian bartender, on a Nile cruise, he isn’t really thrilled. To stare at old stones together with a bunch of old codgers—why, thanks for the gift. Unsurprisingly the trip starts off badly enough. Not only does Raphaël have an unnerving confrontation with a handsome but standoffish and haughty Italian guy, but he has barely stepped on board the cruise ship when he stumbles upon a tourist… who has been stabbed to death.

The young Venetian Stefano di Angeli agrees to spend his vacation in Egypt with his best friend Grazia. He hasn’t had holidays for six years. But his first encounter with a young, angel-faced, curly-haired Frenchie brings back painful memories. Besides, what could be worse to start a Nile cruise than to discover a murder has been committed on board? Cazzo—fate seems to bear him a grudge!

While the Egyptian police led by Colonel Al-Qaïb are investigating the murder, Raphaël and Stefano find themselves swept away by the events… and by the blooming feelings that inexorably draw them closer. Will they manage to sort out the truth from the lies and find the murderer? Will they be able to resist this mutual attraction that seems to overwhelm them against their wills?

A new, funny and light adventure by the author of ‘The Stuffed Coffin’, the French version of which has won the French Gay Murder Mystery Award 2019.

Grab your copy by placing your pre-order now on Amazon!

Or get your copy on Kobo!

Review of “My Last Dance with Auntie Brie”

| English |

This review has initially been published on Gay Book Reviews in 2019; alas, the website has been closed down ever since. that’s why I republish my review in this space.

Title: My Last Dance with Auntie Brie
Author: Ron Naples
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: April 19, 2019 (revised version published Jan. 24, 2022)
Genre(s): Coming Out, Memoir
Page Count: 207
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Ron Naples’ debut novel, is a gay erotic fictionalized memoir based on his coming out experiences in the ’70s. It is a vivid translation of a time when closet doors were nailed shut, but more than a vicissitude, it is also a peek back at the Disco Era. Raised an Italian Catholic, Ron breaks free from the discipline of his family life when he is introduced to his first gay bar. There he meets Auntie Brie, an extraordinary drag queen who shapes his destiny. Revisit the politically charged 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, join in the debauchery of NYC’s acclaimed Studio 54, and escape to the Cape for a summer gone wild with one of Ptown’s most beloved houseboys. My Last Dance with Auntie Brie defines an entire gay generation who succumbed to the hedonistic lifestyle of that time which has now become legendary.

The essentials first: I really liked this book, liked it very much indeed. It’s a compelling coming-out as well as a coming-of-age novel, a historical manifesto, a sort of (I gather) heavily fictionalized memoir that retraces the author’s own experiences. In some parts the book does read more like a memoir than a novel, alright, but my overall and pleasant impression was that Ron Naples didn’t so much want to tell us about his life with total accuracy than rather give us a feeling of the life-portions and the era he’s writing about—and that can only be done with a fiction writer’s tools and techniques, which he seems to master very well.

The novel is told by a first-person narrator called Ronaldo “Ron” Giuseppe Napolitano. We first meet him when he’s still attending high school somewhere in Connecticut. His best and obviously gay friend Derek takes him to The Warehouse, a gay nightclub near his parents’ home, where he has his first encounter with the ‘70s gay culture, which includes disco music, poppers, and of course drag queens. One of them, Brianna or Auntie Brie, will accompany us as a secondary character throughout the book. We follow Ron’s first, stumbling steps in this new, thrilling, exciting and alluring microcosmos. His first pick-up and ensuing sexual experience is a major disaster because he gets more or less raped by an older man. That plunges him into feelings of shame and self-repulsion, which he tries to handle by confessing his act to the local priest… who tells him he’s “an abomination” (alas, the man is merely quoting the Bible, by the way).

As he’s almost suffocating in the small town where he’s living with his parents, Ron sighs with relief when he’s accepted by the Berklee College of Music in Boston (he’s an aspiring drummer). He has a crush on a boy he befriends, then starts a relationship with Nikki, the boy’s ex-girlfriend, and at the same time continues to explore gay life together with Derek whenever he returns to his parents’ place. He secretly dates a dashing lawyer there, but these parallel relationships come to an end when both the lawyer and Nikki learn about each other’s existence. During the following weeks he enters the world of the civil rights movements and the fight for LGBT rights, finally accepts the truth that he’s gay and plunges deeper and deeper into his new lifestyle. There are many more twists and turns in his life, much dancing, occasional hook-ups, serious dating, even his coming-out to his parents. His maturing and learning process is a winding one, with major ups and downs, moments of sheer happiness, moments of gruesome drama, until he ends up in California some years later, a wiser, almost reformed man capable of starting a true relationship. Did Ron Naples really live all the experiences we read about? And does it really matter to us readers?

Because his tale is a fascinating one, a trip down memory lane for those who have lived during those careless pre-HIV times when gay culture was blooming, a reminder of our community’s history for those like me who’ve been born later. I found the novel nigh unputdownable, compelled to read on until reaching the last full stop. A powerful story of “how it all began”, almost as captivating as Felix Picano’s classic “Like People in History”. I really don’t care that much if fictional Ron equals real-life Ron, but at any rate the novel’s main character Ron seems to be taken out of real life. He rings true, thinks, acts, and reacts in ways I can easily relate to. He’s often extremely annoying, caught up in unwarranted self-righteousness, selfish anger, un-empathetic actions and reactions. All this reminded me strongly of myself at that age, when I had found out (or rather: accepted) that I was gay and started to revel in the gay night-life of my time and place, thinking this was all there was to life, that nothing else was important but I. That’s the major point that got me hooked: I could see myself in Ron, all the differences between us (times, places, experiences) notwithstanding. No tepid, far-fetched or predictable plot-turns in this book—you get a read that draws you in by its credible story-line.

A little bit more effort could have been put into proof-reading the book, though (tenses, commas, wrongly placed spaces, missing words). I do hope the copies you purchase have been looked over because my ARC’s formatting was a complete shambles, almost impertinently so—there were “forced” line-breaks that, as bad luck would have it, didn’t match with the natural flow of the writing even when I tried to change the font size, so that it read almost like a prose poem. That turns out exceedingly annoying when you’re not reading a prose poem, let me tell you! Luckily the story was so interesting and the story-teller’s voice so strong and compelling, because otherwise I wouldn’t have put up with this nigh unreadable copy.

Galley copy of My Last Dance with Auntie Brie provided by the editor in exchange of an honest review.

I have also interviewed the author; this interview will soon be republished on this site…