Forty-one-year-old John Ashley Price was a Western writing superstar until his accountant stole his heart—and everything else he owned. Now, unable to write and suffering from debilitating panic attacks, all he wants is to start over someplace where dropping off the radar is the norm. Someplace he won’t meet anyone. A place where writing should come easy. Hence his relocation to Divide, Colorado.
Of course, John didn’t count on Pat Smith—or Pat’s determination and raw sex appeal. Pat has his sights set on winning John’s heart as well as his trust, and he’s making serious headway… until John learns the truth. Just how does Pat know so much about him?
Anxiety is love's greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic. ---Anais Nin
The Anais Nin quote above just fit Bryl R. Tyne’s novella, Rite of Passage, to a ‘T’.
When I read the blurb about the main character and his debilitating panic attacks, I immediately thought…angst. But the story seemed so promising, the cover was so delicious, I settled into an angst frame of mind, ready for some romantic, sexy melancholy.
Well, Mr. Tyne throws the reader a speedball—an out-of-the-park, extremely enjoyable curve.
The story begins:
I’D FOUND the perfect spot northwest of Divide about six months ago. Hadn‟t laid eyes on the place yet, not physically, which required a certain level of trust, I suppose, but I didn‟t look at my actions as reckless. Not even close. If I couldn‟t trust my agent, who could I trust? Nearly twenty acres with national forest on two sides, she‟d told me, and set off the road a good twelve hundred feet; enough for me to have the privacy I wanted.That‟s how I liked living. Private.
I immediately fell into John, the main character’s voice—a friendly voice, a warm, next-door kind of voice that brings you apple pie and doesn’t even have to knock when it visits. A tone that quickly and cleverly establishes something that draws me to John…vulnerability.
All through the novella, Tyne dispenses his character’s susceptibility in such a way that one cannot help but like John and—more importantly—relate VERY personally with him.
The blurb is the only taste of plot I’ll share. It explains the premise of the story perfectly.
John is the first main character—the first hero—of a book I’ve ever read who depends heavily on Xanex to get through the day, to ease himself though his panic attacks.
Along with his trusted pal, the pills, he also relies on his agent, Carol, for support during these attacks. And this part of the story I found to hit home, maybe a little more powerfully than I’d liked to have admitted.
This wonderful book was also one of the first stories I’d ever encountered that DID address a very common but rarely written about weakness in humans—the extreme dependency on our friends, sometimes to the point of monopolizing their time and their lives. A weakness called—ouch—selfishness. Mr. Tyne portrays this flaw in his character in such a beautiful, mercifully comical manner that serves to helplessly endear the reader to John. Our hero SEES his fault, he feels guilty for putting so much burden on Carol. But—until his life begins to change in Divide, Colorado—he can’t seem to stop.
In one combination tender/hilarious scene, John’s sudden fear at the vulnerable feeling he gets from his new lover plummets him into panic—and he locks himself—no, barricades himself with furniture against the door—in his room, banishing his new lover from his life. While blockaded in the room, he frenziedly calls Carol on his cell phone while the determined lover (following Carol’s orders) breaks into the window.
Oh, you might want to know about John’s new lover? Ah! He is twenty-five-year-old Pat Smith of Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center fame.
I won’t divulge the teaser in the blurb—who Pat really is, or what he really knows about John. But I will give you this juicy tidbit—you’ll adore him, and you’ll be breaking that window apart to get into John’s room, too. You’ll want them together just like I did.
One beautiful, terribly delightful aspect of this story is that John is a famous author. He writes Westerns which include a fictional character named Chad Hardy.
Tyne’s life-of-a-writer is evident in the story, and one of the most fun and poignant features of the novella is John’s private conversations with his character, Chad. It’s absolutely adorable, and I chose to discern from this that Bryl Tyne probably talks to his characters just as John does. I know I do.
The intimate scenes are steamy. They’re bundled with hot lovemaking and believable trepidation over John’s taking on a new lover. The draw of their raw desire is tempered by his terror of getting hurt again.
Bottom line. Rite of Passage is a short, pleasant read. It could have been an angst-laden tale, but Tyne’s unusual, light voice turned it into a highly sympathetic, but at the same time kick-in-the-ass-shame-on-you-big-baby honest story.
The art of presenting such a serious topic was perfected in this wonderful novella.
You know that I love to pinpoint something in every story—some strong suit that, to me, defines the telling. And, in Rite of Passage, it is the very presentation. A forgiving look at human frailty—dependency on medicine and other humans, fear of love, pain of love gone wrong, clinging to the love gone wrong. The old bargain package of human on the outs with humanity—all in a lovely voice.
I highly recommend Rite of Passage.