City Mouse

City Mouse

Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov

Amy Lane is a master at bringing together two unlikely people and making it completely believable that these disparate characters not only will fall in love but also will stay together longer than the sexual attraction lasts. Paired with Alexksandr Voinov, Lane continues this tradition in this extension of Country Mouse.

Once American Owen Watson meets and falls in love with British banker Malcolm Kavanagh, he decides to stay in Britain to see if the promising relationship will endure. Owen’s mother cautions him that the first six weeks of a relationship is the honeymoon period, but to watch out for the seventh week.

Until Owen, Malcolm has had no time for a relationship, getting his fulfillment from visiting clubs to hook up when needed. So he’s clueless about what kinds of compromises it takes to keep a boyfriend longer than overnight

On the surface, their relationship is doomed. But Owen sees through Malcolm’s expensive suits and exquisite apartment, and falls for the real man underneath the gift wrapping. Malcolm, for his part, wants Owen to succeed as a computer technician and thinks Owen’s job as a tech for a do-gooder co-op group in a middle-class part of London is unworthy of his talents. Class distinctions are a big deal to Malcolm, who grew up poor.

So while the guys get along beautifully sexually, they are at logger-heads on what Malcolm feels are fundamentals. Consequently, their relationship follows the timeline Owen’s mother predicted: Six weeks of bliss, then the bombshell.

Owen was a delight in the first book and is as well in this second one. Being an American raised by a free-spirited single parent, he doesn’t understand class distinctions, so he refuses to buy into Malcolm’s snobbish way of viewing the world. If it weren’t for the underlying humanity and simple joie de vivre he sees in Malcolm, Owen would drop him.

Raised lower class British, Malcolm, on the other hand, can’t understand Owen’s acceptance of everyone and everything. He knows they share a past of poverty and thinks Owen should be excited about living the posh life. He truly wants to give Owen all the material things they both missed in their childhoods. Together they represent the differences between American and British ways of thinking. That Voinov and Lane can persuade readers that Owen and Malcolm come to an understanding that has a good chance of becoming permanent is incredible, but the writers do.

The problem with the book is that it isn’t presented together with Country Mouse as one novel. Trying to read City Mouse without reading its predecessor (like I did) is nearly impossible. It wasn’t until I was a few chapters into City Mouse that I got my bearings and could read the rest of the book. When I finished it and found out the much shorter Country Mouse was available, it became apparent that I should have read it first.

So even though City Mouse can stand alone after a few rocky beginning chapters, readers should be warned that it makes much more sense and is much more enjoyable if Country Mouse is read first. Why they aren’t published together is a mystery to me.