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Mardi Gras

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As the publisher Noble Romance has gone out of business, this story is no longer available. However, it will be extended and re-published in the future under the title "Pride+Prejudices" and will be part of the Opposites Attract series.

Fifty year old American novelist, journalist and blogger, Damien, has arrived in Sydney for the 2010 Mardi Gras Parade. Damien is traveling incognito because in a recent blog he criticized the relevance of the parade and bemoaned the fact it had drifted so far from its roots as a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots—the first time the fairies fought back.

He is met at the airport by Simon, a young Australian who has been asked to look after him and give him a real "Taste of Australia."

Set against the backdrop of Sydney and its world-famous, colorful Mardi Gras, the two men find they have a lot more in common than either at first realize.

65 pages, ebook

First published August 9, 2010

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About the author

A.B. Gayle

17 books184 followers
Unlike many authors, I haven't been writing stories all my life. I've been too busy living life.
My travels took me from the fjords of Norway to the southern tip of New Zealand. In between, I've worked in so many different towns I've lost count. I've shoveled cow shit, mustered sheep, been polite to customers, traded insults with politicians and need to be forgiven on occasions when I get confused as to who needs what where. Now that I'm settled in Sydney, Australia, my real-life experiences can morph with my fertile imagination and create fiction which I hope readers will enjoy.
My philosophy on posting reviews is to recommend books I like which I think other people may not read and state why I like them. These are only the tip of the iceberg of books I read. If I do post a negative review, it's because there is some craft aspect (usually) that, to me, prevents the book from reaching its full potential. Books I straight out don't like or don't finish, don't even get a mention, as they may be someone else's cup of tea.

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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Darien.
847 reviews327 followers
September 28, 2010

Mardi Gras was a short story, yet a very gratifying one. The book offers a very strong political theme, yet it also manages to put a little self-exploration in there. The book brought up many questions; questions that I had to find the answers to and gain complete understanding of what the author was trying to say. While it might be a very short story, it is a fulfilling story and had me turning the pages lightning speed.

Damien is a journalist for a gay newspaper, and recently wrote an article about the importance of Sydney’s Mardi Gras. He expresses that the Mardi Gras does not uphold to what it was 25 years ago. In the 80’s it was seen as a movement a way for homosexuals to express themselves and show the world that they existed. While reflecting on the fact that the journey was not easy, and it was a time of true celebration. Damien no longer feels that way, he feels the Mardi Gras is not what it used to be, he condemns the idea of it, its no longer a celebration of good over bad, but a form of self gratification for those who partake in the Mardi Gras of now. It no longer celebrates traditions and honours the heroes that made it possible. A blogger disagrees with Damien’s ideas and lets him have it, said blogger inspires Damien to take a trip to Australia, and to see if his ideas stand true.

At the Sydney airport Damien is met by Simon, a young man hired to show him around. The meeting with Simon annoys Damien a little, with Simon pushing the word “mate” around a lot. Damien gets the feeling he is trying too hard, but he finds himself attracted to the young man. A day spent together leads to some hot motel room time, when things look like they are about to heat up Simon takes off. This little road block provides a wonderful twist to the story, because from the very beginning of the book you can tell that Simon is uncomfortable with something.

After a little stewing Damien makes his way to the parade and eventually runs into Simon again. With a little anger to get over, Simon reintroduces the Mardi Gras to Damien, and it becomes a wonderful time of discovery for Damien, because he was hiding behind cynicism and the trip becomes a eye opener for a man who thought he had seen and knew it all.

I really enjoyed this short read, it was packed with information but wasn’t a history book. I think of this book as a celebration and beauty of what it takes to go out and declare yourself a homosexual. It brings the joy of the strong individuals who get one day to celebrate and be themselves while realizing that there are so many who appreciate them for who they are. So many who join to celebrate with them, from the old, young, men, women and children. I highly recommend this short read.
Profile Image for Snowtulip.
1,076 reviews
July 30, 2012
What I've come to love about A.B. Gayle's books are that they are smart, relevant, and thoughtful. The author has trust in the readers intelligence to give a deeply layered story.

I really enjoyed this short story and like others, I would love to see a sequel. We get fully developed characters, a vibrant setting, and a meaty social story. Great read!
Profile Image for Tj.
2,222 reviews64 followers
September 6, 2015
I received this book as a prize in a contest. I was a little leery of it as I read the background for the book from the author and became concerned I would get bored with the details of the story. Surprisingly for me, it was a wonderful read. Knowing the background actually enhanced my enjoyment of the book. The author really put in thought and detail into a current issue in the gay community. She also brings to light all of the bias and issues with diversity. "...it's the groups that can't accept diversity that hate and fear us the most. They should celebrate diversity, not just accept it."

The storyline, while a common one, gave the reader a twist with the interaction being more intellectual rather than all about the sex. It also seemed more realistic in some areas than most with this theme.

Overall I believe it was a book that gave me more than expected in that not only did I enjoy it but I learned from it. Would highly recommend this book to others.
Profile Image for Jess Candela.
624 reviews36 followers
June 1, 2012
This was the first book I've read by this author, but certainly won't be the last. In fact, I'm really, really hoping that one of those future books will be a sequel to this one!

I read it in one gulp, needing to know what happens next. Now that I know, I'll probably read it again, more slowly, so I can savor it. I don't re-read right away often, but I think this is a book that merits it. I was right there with Damien, seeing what he saw, feeling what he felt, and it's a helluva ride. But there are so many layers to this story, so beautifully and seamlessly woven together, that I think I'll get a lot out of a second, slower, reading.

As others have said, it also gets you thinking on a broader scale even while "living" through the eyes and experiences of one person. Like, what's the difference between 'tolerating', 'accepting', and 'celebrating' diversity, and what do those distinctions mean in real terms? Also, just what is 'diversity' anyway? And when things (like gay pride parades) change over time, are those changes good, bad, or indifferent? How important are age differences and life experiences when two people connect and really 'get' each other? I could go on, but I don't want to write a book report, just pique your interest enough so you'll read it too. Actually, I think this would be a great book for a book group to read and discuss.

The story ends with a HFN, and the ending worked well. But there's so clearly so much more that can be done with these characters, I hope there will be a sequel. I want to spend more time with these guys and see what happens in their lives now that they're together. Please, A.B. Gayle, please say you're working on the sequel and writing really quickly! :)

Re-read 26Jun2011 and loved it again.
Profile Image for Sammy Goode.
628 reviews66 followers
April 1, 2012
Perhaps the highest praise I can give to a short story like Mardi Gras is to say that I want more...I want to hear more about Patrick and Damien. I WANT TO HAVE ALL THE ENDLESS QUESTIONS THAT THIS LITTLE GEM PRODUCED ANSWERED AND QUICKLY!

SO...does Patrick continue selling himself or does he go back to the states with Damien--is that even a possibility after this next week they have together. After Damien writes his article about Australian Mardi Gras and has his fling with Patrick, will he come to find out it is actually love? Or will their age difference and the fact that Patrick was a "for hire" escort gone wrong be a deterrent? Will Patrick, sweet, smart, lovely Patrick get our from under the iron thumb of prostitution and begin to live a life worthy of the beautiful soul he seems to be? If he does, will Damien be there to help him...to support him...to love him??

I really enjoyed this book by A. B Gayle. And I truly do want more...

Ms Gayle is an author that writes in such as way that you feel you are actually walking along side her characters--watching their story unfold and marveling at the growing love you see there. Her characters and scenery are so well drawn that you can close your mind's eye and see them--taste them---hear them and they are a delight to all the senses!

Mardi Gras by A. B. Gayle was a delightful short story, a good read, and hopefully bound for a sequel? What do you say Ms. Gayle?
2 reviews1 follower
June 29, 2010
You know that big sigh you take at the end of a really good book? After finishing "Mardi Gras" that is exactly what I took, the big happy "what a great book" sigh.

Often when reading a new or "new to me" author, I have no idea what to expect. Will I like the writing style or won't I? Will this author be able to keep my attention.. or not. This book definitely is one that I greatly enjoyed, and one that kept my attention until the very last word. I could not put the book down.

I'm a US born and bred reader so this can also lead to certain expectations. I know what the words "Mardi Gras" mean here. Even though I am over 939 miles (1511 km) from New Orleans, when I hear those words I think "party, parades, beads and masks". I also think "Fat Tuesday" and Lent. In reading "Mardi Gras" I learned something about what those words mean to Australians. I also learned more about the country itself than I previously knew.

I read a lot of m/m romance books, and I love them. The best ones touch the heart as well as spark the imagination. "Mardi Gras" not only did both of those things for me but it left a lasting impression in my soul. If you enjoy m/m romance, then read this one. You will be very glad you did.
Profile Image for Don Schecter.
Author 19 books7 followers
July 20, 2010
There are writers with the ability to create space and time they have no physical opportunity to experience. There are writers who can do the same with people. A.B. Gayle has the gift. In her first gay romance, she has entered the minds and hearts of 25 yo Patrick and 50 yo Damien, setting them on a collision course with romance. Gayle's powers of empathy are astounding. She knows how these men think and what makes them act. She full-well understands the differences in attitude and approach between young and middle-aged lovers. In Mardi Gras, she establishes the chemistry of these two men, then stands back and lets her characters generate heat.

It's a delightful journey of discovery, taken during Sydney's Mardi Gras. Honest and insightful, the narrative trips along as though the reader is on holiday in Australia. I'm rooting for Patrick and Damien, and anxious to see what befalls them in the promised sequel.

An intelligent romance, an excellent read. You will have a great time at Mardi Gras.
Profile Image for Elisa Rolle.
Author 142 books222 followers
July 8, 2010
This is a nice May/December novella about an embittered 50 years old writer and blogger, Damien, who is sent to Sydney to do a reportage on the gay pride parade during the Mardi Gras, the same parade he accused how having no more a serious content in his blog.

It’s not that Damien has something in particular against Sydney or his gay parade, but maybe the fact that he spent there a wonderful summer, when he was 25 years old and gay and proud and out, makes his boring life now even more unbearable, and he has to convince himself that what he remembers with so much fond memories is not more an option, that he is not losing anything, since what he wants is no more available.

And so, when descending from the plane he finds an handsome and very young Simon waiting for him, ready to show him all the beauty his country can offer him, in more way than one, Damien is at first reluctant, but then follow the lead. Near Simon he feels again like that 25 years old guy who was living for loving and surfing, and who was still convinced the future was out there, waiting for him.

Spending time with Simon, he realizes that the boy is not a replica of himself at the same age: even if carefree and maybe even a bit careless, Damien was probably only taking a vacation from life, and he had all the possibilities to realize his dreams. Simon instead is so bent to prove to Damien that what he has, and what he feels is important, since he has nothing else: poor and proud, proving to Damien that people of Simon’s age are not worthless, is a way to prove that he himself is someone Damien has to consider, someone whose voice is important.

This is not really a love story, even if there is a bit of sex intercourses between the two of them, but it’s more a meeting of two different minds, different worlds and different ages; but even if they are so different, there is something that links them, being gay and believing in a meeting of souls.

Profile Image for Jade F Baiser.
13 reviews1 follower
October 25, 2010
Usually, I do not really love the books where the story is told to the first person of the singular, I feel that I miss a lot of emotions from anyone but the narrator. But AB Gayle makes everything very lively, that you forget you only have one side of the story. You feel you’re a part of what Damien sees, feels and reacts to.
From the beginning, you know, or rather guess, something is wrong with the meeting of the two characters. But you don’t know what, and the tension grows almost in spite of yourself. You elaborate multitudes of scenarios in your head, but you have to give up the fight and let yourself be dragged into AB Gayle story.
The story is very well written, that you can feel the atmosphere during the parade, but also at the beach and everywhere the characters go. You feel like you’re a part of what Damien is feeling, even for me who’s French and English isn’t my first language.
And what to tell about Damien and Simon… Such a beautiful encounter. These two are tortured souls who were meant for each others. You want their story to end up well, they deserve it. And you pray all along that they realize it themselves.
Profile Image for A.B. Gayle.
Author 17 books184 followers
June 29, 2010
Australia's "Pride" Parade is called the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. This is run by a "not for profit" organisation,the New Mardi Gras committee. My novella is not endorsed by them or linked to them in any way. For the record, they were not happy with me using the term Mardi Gras for the title of the book as they have copyrighted it in Australia. They eventually gave me permission to use it providing I made it clear that I wasn't connected to them in any way.
In recognition of the great work they do in holding the parade I am donating half my royalties to the committee.

Apart from attending the parade and a number of the special events in Mardi Gras week, I also did a lot of research, including reading a book "What Happened to Gay Life" by Robert Reynolds. I wrote a review on that for Goodreads.

It's been great to see that "Mardi Gras" has inspired people to do more reading themselves about the events Mardi Gras commemorates.

The photos I took of the parade can be seen in a photo album on my webpage.
Profile Image for Kei.
29 reviews2 followers
July 15, 2010
A. B. Gayle's work is an intriguing look at Australia, through its take on Mardi Gras, traditionally a celebration of social excesses collimating in a spate of debauchery the day before Lent begins. Australia's Mardi Gras doesn't make any pretenses to a quasi religious origin. It is a celebration of another stripe.

I found myself surprised to be reading a story that had nothing to do with what I had expected. I had assumed that Mardi Gras meant the same thing worldwide so this tale was a bit of an education for me. I found myself taking a stroll figuratively through the history of the gay movement.

The story is told from the POV of a visiting American journalist, which I found a little surprising since the author and locale are Aussie. He and the young man who is sent to meet him at the airport hit it off right from the beginning, even though there are many false starts along the way.

A thoroughly enjoyable read. I must admit I'm rather fond of Patrick.
Profile Image for Oco.
Author 9 books205 followers
January 16, 2011
A very nice May/December story, thoughtful, sweet but not overly so. The writing is tight and compelling; I like the descriptions, the pacing, the characterization, all of this was wonderful. Both characters were so real. Neither was particularly 'heroic' nor 'villanous', which can sometimes make for a dull read (I do like larger-than-life characters); it did not here. They were both idiosyncratic enough to be fascinating.

EDIT: I'd listed a detraction earlier that turned out to be about formatting. My epub version went a little wild on paragraph breaks, putting new ones in where they didn't belong, deleting them from where they were needed (this became a problem where there was dialogue). After comparing with a pdf, I can say that this is definitely an epub issue. Now I'm angry for the author. :|
27 reviews4 followers
September 10, 2010
I really enjoyed this book. I knew nothing about Australia's Mardi Gras before reading it; the author has drawn a very vivid picture for us. So much so that I would now love to go! I found the love story touching, the characters believable and the outcome very satisfying. The author also handles the politics of Mardi Gras (and similar events worldwide)with a great deal of understanding, resulting in a thought-provoking story as well as a very enjoyable one.
Profile Image for Karen.
11 reviews3 followers
April 16, 2011
Loved it! Nice romantic m/m short story. Her writing style is laid back as she draws you in to Damien's (hunk of cuteness) experience in Austrailia. I enjpyed her way of weaving historical gay facts & quotes into the story. It was a bit of mystery/eroticism/romance/travel woven together to create a lovely story.
Profile Image for C.L..
Author 4 books5 followers
February 16, 2011
Excellent read. The main character has a strong voice that he kept this reader glued to her chair and reading. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, no. Loved that about this book. A definite must read.
Profile Image for Aleksandr Voinov.
Author 80 books2,411 followers
June 9, 2012
Good story. Had the pleasure of serving as a "beta", and enjoyed the experience. Not sure my feedback was any good, because this came out great in first draft. (Hence I'm not rating it)

What you'll like about the story is that it's told and written well, with A B's trademark humour and wisdom - not preachy, even though it's dealing with Important Questions (how far should the gay community go in flaunting/assimilating?). I'd recommend it for both gay and m/m readers.

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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