Book Review: Still by Mary Calmes

Still by Mary CalmesTitle: Still
Author: Mary Calmes
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy from publisher
Published: May 15, 2013 by Dreamspinner Press

What happens when two men who have been together for seventeen years fall out of love? Sivan Cruz, a set director in San Francisco, and Walter Wainwright, a big shot Bay Area lawyer, find out the hard way. Walter loves Sivan with all his heart but rarely talks about it, and Sivan needs to hear the words. The language of the love they have shared for so long, that has enabled them to build a life together and raise two children, stops working. They become—still.
When Sivan asks for a divorce, Walter doesn’t know how to say no. They separate, but while Sivan sees the relationship as over, Walter sees only a temporary setback. He has never lost his passion for Sivan and decides he has to say something before he ends up loving his husband in silence for the rest of his life.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: I loved this book’s concept but the emotional reconciliation was simplistic and didn’t do justice to the complicated relationship, in my opinion.

The Set Up: Art director Sivan has been married to lawyer Walter for seventeen years but feels they’ve fallen out of love. Now that their kids are in college, Sivan asks Walter for a divorce and Walter isn’t sure how to say no. But Walter and Sivan are still drawn to each other and Walter wants to reconcile.

Why I Read this Book: I love characters who are older in romance and this synopsis totally caught my attention for that reason.

What I Liked: This is a lovely concept for a romance. Sivan and Walter have built a life together but Sivan feels they’ve slowly grown apart with life’s challenges and joys. The promise of an established couple’s reconnection captured my interest from the synopsis alone. I loved how the book starts with Sivan asking Walter for a divorce and then flashes back to how they became a couple and a family with two kids. This was stellar because as a reader I felt emotionally invested in them as a couple when the break up happens so that I truly felt the pain of their breakup. It’s a compelling story to see how a couple comes together but also how they extricate themselves from a life they’ve built together.

What I Also Liked: To feel invested in the romance I had to first like the characters, which I did. Sivan is a fun character who is the novel’s narrator and therefore the lead readers know best. We’re privy to his doubts, insecurities and vulnerabilities and I really liked that. Walter was as mysterious to readers as to Sivan, even though they’d been together seventeen years. Readers know Walter is a powerful lawyer but an emotionally distant partner and father. I love the troubled quiet lead in romance and could see what attracted Sivan to Walter.

What I Didn’t Like: As much as I loved the setup for this romance the resolution blew it for me. This is a romance driven novel with no other plot so I expected the emotional denouement to be powerful but instead it let me down. In one emotional epiphany everything is fixed. Walter and Sivan had serious issues with their relationship and in my opinion they needed more exploration of how they’d make their relationship work in the future.

Finally, I know this will be vague, but I have to also say that the thing I *detest* in break up romances happens here and instead of invoking more emotional intimacy, Sivan just accepts IT and acts like IT is no big deal. IT is a big deal in any relationship and was an issue for Walter in the past and he worried about IT with Sivan their entire relationship. But suddenly Walter does IT and Sivan is all a-OK with IT. I was ballistic and couldn’t understand how the rules of their relationship would change on this issue when the rest of their relationship was stagnantly accepted as resuming with no changes. I could go on and on with my disappointment with this issue but I’ll shut up about it.

IMO: This novel had a great premise and made me so invested in the romance that I felt the flimsy emotional resolution acutely.

J9’s Rating:
2 Frogs

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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.


  1. I'm new to your website, but I really enjoy reading your reviews where you tell it like it is. This same issue would bug me too as it did in Home Again by Cardeno C.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. It's hard when the ingredients for a terrific read are all there and I just don't like how it's mixed. Book reviewing is all subjective and just my opinion anyway so what bothers me may not bother another reader. I try to be honest about my opinions while leaving open that my opinion isn't the "right" one!


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