- Reviewed by: Warren Collen
- Print Length: 178 pages
- Posting: Mystery, Action, Romance
- Publisher: Lethe Press (August 15, 2012)
- Book Provided by: Author
- Author: Elliott Mackle
- Posting Date: July 9, 2014
- Rating: 4 Star
Only Make Believe is the stand-alone follow up of his first novel, It Takes Two.
Dan and Bud return as the closeted pair of lovers who just happen to walk into events beyond their control. This story again takes place in the Caloosa Club and involves the same cast of fun characters, plus a couple new faces to make the story interesting. Dan is still the manager of the hotel, and Bud is part-time security guard, and works the other part for the sheriff’s department.
Diva Capri is a guest at the hotel, and has made a special request to be allowed to sing one evening while there. The performance goes well; she is well received, and takes the traditional tour of the club afterwards. Some of the male patrons come on to her, and this is where the story gets interesting. Diva Capri is not what she appears to be, and that all comes out when she is found dead in the room. See, the thing is, she is a he, and the special request was to let him have a fantasy night. He is married, has a child, and is a straight man with a fetish. But the patrons of the club didn’t know that, and one of them may very well be his killer. And on top of that, his family is one really screwy group who are really hard to figure out.
The character development in this book is excellent, just as it was in the first book. Elliott has a real knack for making his characters believable, in a very interesting way. They are deep, have emotions, and he is very good at describing and bringing these things out.
The relationship between Dan and Bud is just as much fun as it was. The fear of being outed, but the love they share makes for some fun, some tough, and some very tender moments. There is even some drama and tension between the two.
Even if you haven’t read It Takes Two, Only Make Believe is a great read. It is a great mystery novel, and also a great m/m romance all spun together into a book Mr. Mackle can be very proud of.
The Book Description:
It’s amateur night at the ultra-private, members-only Caloosa Club on the Fort Myers, Florida, riverfront. Trouble begins when the fat lady sings. Her triumph is sweet. But, only hours later, the diva lies near death in a hotel room upstairs, the victim of a vicious beating. Hotel manager Dan Ewing and his sidekick, Lee County Detective Bud Wright, soon discover that this was no lady and that a variety of unsavory characters hoped to dance on the dead diva’s grave. In Southwest Florida in January 1951, almost anyone who wanted to have a little illicit fun put his—or her—life on the line.
Dan, a World War II veteran who survived Japanese torpedoes, five days on a life raft and the death of his Navy lover, feels he’s found more safety and freedom than any gay man might expect. Dealing cards, serving untaxed mixed drinks and selling the services of escorts of both sexes, he acts as if he has nothing to lose. Yet he does. Bud, his secret lover, is a former Marine sergeant twice decorated for valor. Strong and brave but deeply conventional, he lives with the uneasy knowledge that every time he and Dan make love they commit a felony according to the laws he is sworn to uphold.
The Caloosa, exposed to the pitiless glare of a front-page homicide investigation, attracts unwanted attention. The mounting pressure, instead of forging a stronger bond between Dan and Bud, threatens to tear them apart. As the jeopardy to both escalates, Dan realizes he may lose the one man who holds the key to the peace and harmony of his postwar world.