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.
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.