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  • Heartfelt & Very Moving

    I’m thoroughly blown away by Harry F. Ray’s All The Lovers. Unlike anything I’ve read before, the honesty and openness of this story rings true enough to move me to tears. Of course, there are buckets of laughs along the way, but this year told in one young man’s life, which is the basis for this novel, is significantly monumental. I don’t care how old you are, where you live, or what your socio-economic situation is, I’m begging you to read this book! While I wouldn’t usually call a novel which takes place in the early 2000s “historical,” in the context of our modern world All The Lovers is truly historical, considering life before PrEP; the very dawn of “dating” apps, and social media the way we know it today, not to mention the stigma attached to hooking up (or not hooking up), condomless sex, fashion, drug use, and the futility of pursuing higher education. All of these monumental things, experienced and perceived so differently by specific groups of people, is an incredibly unique phenomenon. Harry F. Ray does a spectacular job recounting this time period, and perfectly captures the sensations of this circle of the population. He shows how it impacts Nick and his friends, as they navigate the bridge from the social reactions and responses of HIV and AIDS in the 80s and 90s, to the empowerment given back to folks in the 2000s with information, education, and medication. As a nineteen-year-old man, faced with these variety of options, Nick is navigating his broken heart and his shattered dreams. His boyfriend Shawn’s rejection, coupled with his memories of their perfect year together, has him reeling. Faced with his choices: exploring his independence away from his family, enjoying the drugs, alcohol, and entertainment available in Leeds and London, and experimenting with his sexual freedom, Nick dives in and experiences it all. While much of All The Lovers deals with Nick’s angst as he processes his breakup with Shawn, there is plenty of humor and good times for these characters. Nick makes some wonderfully unique and interesting friends. And detailed accounting of his off-beat hook-ups had me in stitches. Through it all, Nick bares his soul and tells it from the heart. There’s a fair bit of sex in this one, and fans of bathhouse erotica will be pleased. Harry F. Ray writes a mighty fine scene (well he actually writes quite a number of them), all of which are very well done and truly capture the elevated emotions and frantic nature of a consensual gangbang. For each of us who came of age during this time, our lives were undeniably, irrevocably touched by the unique factors of this era. For those who come after, and those who sailed by without being affected by these phenomena, please consider the importance of All The Lovers. Take this opportunity to put yourself in Nick’s shoes, because Harry F. Ray has written a masterpiece!

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