Learning to Feel by N.R.Walker

Short Version: Learning to Feel is a fairly  traditional contemporary romance that passed the time, but N.R. Walker’s plotting choices struck me as a bit much.

Long Version:

In a moment of common sense and self-preservation, sad-sack Nathan leaves his job as an ER doctor in Boston, to take a role in rural Maine. It’s a contract position that he hopes will get his life on track, help him work less, and includes free rent on a farmhouse. When Nathan arrives, he finds a painter finishing up the house and his world promptly turns to colour.

Trent is an itinerant artist working as a house painter to pay the bills. He and his loyal hound have been living at the farmhouse while he completes the effort for Nathan’s new digs. Trent is blonde, cute, and everything homophobic people fear. No, he’s not some raging stereotype, rather he is a gay man so magnetic that he has the Power of Conversion. Nathan has been hitherto not just straight, but essentially asexual. Trent’s arrival in his life is not just the gay-for-you trope, it’s I-am-born-anew-in-my-sexual-awakening! The world is transformed, my priorities have changed, I am a whole person now!

Other than the LGBTQ romance Trope of Conversion, Learning to Feel is a fairly standard story built around two nice people meeting and connecting as they do in so many kissing books. Their lives merge pretty seamlessly and Trent never seems to mind that Nathan basically takes over ownership of the dog. N.R. Walker is a decent writer who delivered a competent romance, although she has done much better work.

Question: Is the gay-for-you trope specific to romances about men falling in love that are written by and targeted to a readership made up of straight women?  Are there romance novels by and for gay men? What percentage of romance readership is male to begin with?

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list. I have a list of LGBTQ romances, too.



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One thought on “Learning to Feel by N.R.Walker

  1. kitfugrad September 30, 2017 at 3:12 pm Reply

    I’m in the number of male readers of gay romance novels that you questioned. 😉

    That being said, I’ve read a great deal of N. R. Walker’s works– and I’m a fan of several of her series books (Red Dirt Heart, Breaking Point, Cronin’s Key, Spencer Cohen, Elements of Retrofit), as well as a few of the one-offs she’s written (Weight Of It All, Learning to Feel).

    To be fair, I’ve not delved into the world of M/F romance. Being a gay guy, there’s a key component missing for me in those books, and perhaps understandably so. There’s only so much of “heaving breasteses” I could take before I chuck my tablet back in the bag and eat a pint of ice cream to recuperate. When it comes to the “conversion” trope, I’m a bit more open-minded, due to the fluidity of sexual orientation in general. Some folks have an “awakening”, as you’ve put it– and depending on where they are in their lives, it could be that they’ve either repressed their nature, or simply weren’t aware of it until it pressed itself against the hot throbbing heart of it all (ha ha).

    To be fair, “LtF” is definitely a lighter read in that regard. Another author, Felice Stevens, pushes a bit harder with the conversion trope in her M/M book, “A Walk Through Fire”, where one of the leads goes through a divorce with a particularly money-grubbing daddy’s girl only to find himself deeply involved with the lawyer who previously represented his ex. There’s a GREAT deal at stake (the book is heavily triggering for people who have survived sexual violation/trauma), and at the end of the day, there’s an HEA despite the trials. But it does indeed follow the foibles of a man who, for all intents and purposes, had no-to-limited sexual interactions with other men, only to fall madly-truly-deeply in love with another man.

    Love your reviews on N.R. Walker. She’s one of my longstanding faves.

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