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Happiness for Beginners

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This title is part of the 2011 Advent Calendar: I'll Be Home for Christmas Jesse harbored a crush on his TV series costar, Kaye, for more than eight years, but when the show was canceled and he realized those years of playing gay hadn’t convinced Kaye to leave the straight and narrow, Jesse turned his back on acting for good. Ten years later, Kaye is back in Jesse’s life, o This title is part of the 2011 Advent Calendar: I'll Be Home for Christmas Jesse harbored a crush on his TV series costar, Kaye, for more than eight years, but when the show was canceled and he realized those years of playing gay hadn’t convinced Kaye to leave the straight and narrow, Jesse turned his back on acting for good. Ten years later, Kaye is back in Jesse’s life, on Christmas Eve—and the eve of his third divorce. Jesse’s not sure his heart can take another beating, but Kaye has a few tricks up his sleeve—and a few truths from his own heart—that might just convince Jesse that the gifts of love and happiness are not just for Christmas.


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This title is part of the 2011 Advent Calendar: I'll Be Home for Christmas Jesse harbored a crush on his TV series costar, Kaye, for more than eight years, but when the show was canceled and he realized those years of playing gay hadn’t convinced Kaye to leave the straight and narrow, Jesse turned his back on acting for good. Ten years later, Kaye is back in Jesse’s life, o This title is part of the 2011 Advent Calendar: I'll Be Home for Christmas Jesse harbored a crush on his TV series costar, Kaye, for more than eight years, but when the show was canceled and he realized those years of playing gay hadn’t convinced Kaye to leave the straight and narrow, Jesse turned his back on acting for good. Ten years later, Kaye is back in Jesse’s life, on Christmas Eve—and the eve of his third divorce. Jesse’s not sure his heart can take another beating, but Kaye has a few tricks up his sleeve—and a few truths from his own heart—that might just convince Jesse that the gifts of love and happiness are not just for Christmas.

30 review for Happiness for Beginners

  1. 5 out of 5

    ⚣Michaelle⚣

    3.4 Stars Well color me...slightly surprised. I've read two other books by this author and rated them both ~2 Stars. I don't know why I gave this one a chance (three's a charm?) but I'm glad I did...if for no other reason that it didn't suck. Faint praise, yes, and most likely it was due to Michael Stellman's narration that I enjoyed the story a lot more than I thought I would, but it just means that I will be a little more likely to try again. 3.4 Stars Well color me...slightly surprised. I've read two other books by this author and rated them both ~2 Stars. I don't know why I gave this one a chance (three's a charm?) but I'm glad I did...if for no other reason that it didn't suck. Faint praise, yes, and most likely it was due to Michael Stellman's narration that I enjoyed the story a lot more than I thought I would, but it just means that I will be a little more likely to try again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    T.A. Webb

    Jesse runs a travel agency in New York, newly separated from his business partner and lover. In a past life, he was one half of a very popular nighttime tv show about gay partners, but that was ten years before, and he hasn't seen Kaye, his co-star and best friend since then. Of course, Jesse quit the business after the show was cancelled after eight years on the air, not wanting to deal with his unrequited crush on his straight best friend. And then right before Christmas, Kaye shows up at his d Jesse runs a travel agency in New York, newly separated from his business partner and lover. In a past life, he was one half of a very popular nighttime tv show about gay partners, but that was ten years before, and he hasn't seen Kaye, his co-star and best friend since then. Of course, Jesse quit the business after the show was cancelled after eight years on the air, not wanting to deal with his unrequited crush on his straight best friend. And then right before Christmas, Kaye shows up at his door with a suitcase. Seems his third wife and he are divorcing, his show is off the air, and he has nowhere to go and nobody to see. And they are, or were, best friends. So Jesse lets him stay. Visit with his sister and her kids. Share Christmas with him and catch up. And perhaps, share with him his secret - that he has been in love with him for years. But how will Kaye react? Will this destroy their friendship for good, or bring them closer together? This sweet, touching, emotionally honest and oh so very effective story of unrequited love and secrets is just terrific. From the very first page, Zahra Owens had me fully engaged and curious. Was this going to be a gay for you story, or a I was secretly in love with you too, or a bittersweet no thanks tale? And, to my surprise and relief, it was none of them and all of them and something so unexpected. Because there was so much to Kaye that was hidden, unknown, shunned. His past such a secret from Jesse, and his life, as it were, a facade. And Jesse - so sweetly understanding and patient. Love does that to a man. But every man has his limitations, and his reactions strike every emotional note just so correctly. Kaye's story is so unexpected, so raw and painful and brave, and I read on and hurt for him and celebrated and ached. Ms. Owens is such a talented writer, and she brought out the big guns for this one. Get this beautiful short work as a present for yourself this Christmas. You won't regret it. Tom

  3. 4 out of 5

    Serena Yates

    The title of this story intrigued me, but let me warn you, the story takes a long time to get there. It is the tale of two men who have had so many misunderstandings that neither of them really knows what’s going on. They have caused each other a lot of pain, and now that they are together again after ten years of no contact, it doesn’t get any better. Not at first, and even later, not easily. Jesse always knew what he wanted, but he understands that Kaye couldn’t give it to him. He loves Kaye wi The title of this story intrigued me, but let me warn you, the story takes a long time to get there. It is the tale of two men who have had so many misunderstandings that neither of them really knows what’s going on. They have caused each other a lot of pain, and now that they are together again after ten years of no contact, it doesn’t get any better. Not at first, and even later, not easily. Jesse always knew what he wanted, but he understands that Kaye couldn’t give it to him. He loves Kaye with all his heart, and I really felt for him. He has been disappointed before, but can’t help loving Kaye. Kaye is a really troubled man; he comes off as a bit of a bastard at first, but as I discovered through Jesse’s eyes what he’d been through, I started to understand him better. He still behaves badly, and hurts Jesse, and I wasn’t sure they’d be good together even at the end of the story, but that actually fits the character. It just isn’t fair to Jesse! If you like stories about deeply troubled men who try to deal with lots of trauma and will probably never be able to truly recover, if you want some psychology with your romance, and if you don’t mind and ending that is not exactly overly optimistic, you will probably like this story. NOTE: This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review on Queer Magazine Online

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    This one is a little heavy on the side, for a holiday story. It deals with matters that are so much more than just unrequited love, but also a messed up person due to upbringing, asexuality, and fear of acknowledging lust. Kaye is a tragic character for me, so much times lost because of his internal fight. Jesse is slightly better, even if he has loved Kaye for 18 years and in that sense never really truly moves on. The ending doesn't feel like HEA, rather, just like the title suggests, it's a b This one is a little heavy on the side, for a holiday story. It deals with matters that are so much more than just unrequited love, but also a messed up person due to upbringing, asexuality, and fear of acknowledging lust. Kaye is a tragic character for me, so much times lost because of his internal fight. Jesse is slightly better, even if he has loved Kaye for 18 years and in that sense never really truly moves on. The ending doesn't feel like HEA, rather, just like the title suggests, it's a beginning of something better for them. Since this is a new phase for each man, especially for Kaye.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Macky

    Having a Christmas story run at the moment and really enjoying it but I did find this one a little bit heavy for a seasonal tale. With its ' is he straight or not ' theme it did seem to get a bit over complicated and sometimes a bit bogged down in the drama of it all and I would have liked a bit more seasonal fun to make it feel more Christmassy however there were moments though that kept me glued, I did want to see how it all panned out and the Christmas theme is sort of there in the background Having a Christmas story run at the moment and really enjoying it but I did find this one a little bit heavy for a seasonal tale. With its ' is he straight or not ' theme it did seem to get a bit over complicated and sometimes a bit bogged down in the drama of it all and I would have liked a bit more seasonal fun to make it feel more Christmassy however there were moments though that kept me glued, I did want to see how it all panned out and the Christmas theme is sort of there in the background so I can't say I didn't enjoy it, just not what I expected.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Good short holiday m/m romance about two guys, one gay and one presumably straight, who used to play a gay couple on a tv show but haven't seen each other for ten years. And then the straight one shows up at the other guy's front door out of the blue... Good short holiday m/m romance about two guys, one gay and one presumably straight, who used to play a gay couple on a tv show but haven't seen each other for ten years. And then the straight one shows up at the other guy's front door out of the blue...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Meggie

    I liked this story. The plot was realistic and all emotions were true enough for my taste. Both main characters Jesse and Kaye, were interesting and tragic, too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Skye

    Full Review http://kimichanexperience.com/happine... (Contains spoilers- be warned.) Jesse is an ex-TV star who now runs a travel agency. He is surprised when Kaye, his ex-costar, suddenly turns up on his doorstep after divorce number three. Jesse had a huge crush on Kaye back in the day, especially since they were on on-air gay couple, but Kaye was “straight” and therefore off limits. After the show ended the two never had ANY contact until now, ten years later. Kaye is depressed. His marriages fa Full Review http://kimichanexperience.com/happine... (Contains spoilers- be warned.) Jesse is an ex-TV star who now runs a travel agency. He is surprised when Kaye, his ex-costar, suddenly turns up on his doorstep after divorce number three. Jesse had a huge crush on Kaye back in the day, especially since they were on on-air gay couple, but Kaye was “straight” and therefore off limits. After the show ended the two never had ANY contact until now, ten years later. Kaye is depressed. His marriages fail. His most current ex won’t let him see their adopted daughter and he hasn’t actually had sex in 14 years. What?! 14 years? Yes, that’s what I said. We find out Kaye’s mother is a psychiatrist who “cures” the gay out of a person and really did a number on Kaye’s sexual identity. Now, he wants to “experiment” to find his true sexuality. With Jesse. Jesse agrees. They embark on some hot make-out sessions and it seems pretty clear that Kaye is in fact, gay. Then, suddenly, Kaye is packing to go back to LA. He accepted a part out there and has to leave. Does he discuss this with Jesse? Nope. Just begins packing. Jesse is pissed and rightfully so. He throws Kaye out and cries himself to sleep. But Kaye doesn’t actually leave. He misses his plane and returns to Jesse, heart in hand, asking to start a don’t-ask-don’t-tell relationship with him and Jesse agrees. The End. ** This entire story made me so frustrated! The beginning was a slow lead up to what was looking like a GFY/OFY. I figured that Kaye was deluding himself for some reason, and when it was revealed what his mom did for a living I thought that was a nice, unique twist. I appreciated the slow build up and was excited when the couple started talking and “experimenting”. Then, when Kaye left I was mad, but hey, he came back. But then he makes this ridiculous proposal of “we’ll be a couple but won’t tell anyone” and Jesse agrees even though he’s said over and over that he won’t go back in the closet… and they live on opposite coasts… and really? Fourteen years with no sex?? Kaye obviously has a bunch of issues he needs to work through. I thought it was ridiculous. Jesse was way too easy on Kaye and I was left thinking there is no way this couple makes it. Kaye is far from actually accepting who he is and Jesse is not doing anything to protect himself. I never got to the point where I actually liked Kaye and as a result, I didn’t feel good about Jesse and his door-mat acceptance of Kaye’s crap. Sure, we can interpret that this is the beginning of the story, and hope the boys figure things out. However, I was not left feeling that this was a reliable HEA or even HFN. Therefore, the name “Happiness for Beginners” feels like a misnomer because nobody seemed very happy to me, even at the end. I give the story a 2 of 5 hearts because the writing was fine and the story had potential. Audio: Michael did a nice job with the narration. There wasn’t a lot of “acting” but the sound quality was good and his voice allows you to be absorbed in the story. I give the narration a 4 of 5 hearts. Overall… well I wouldn’t recommend either the audio version or the book version but I’d give it a 3 of 5 just because it did stir up my emotions and that is saying something.

  9. 4 out of 5

    T.M. Smith

    It has been a decade since Jesse saw his best friend and former costar Kaye. But the unrequited love Jesse feels for Kaye is still just as intense as it has been for the last eighteen years, since they first started playing the onscreen gay couple on a then hit television show. Neither man has had a successful relationship probably ever. Jesse is recently single from his long term boyfriend and Kaye is on divorce number three. And Jesse has to wonder why now? Why is Kaye on his doorstep after so It has been a decade since Jesse saw his best friend and former costar Kaye. But the unrequited love Jesse feels for Kaye is still just as intense as it has been for the last eighteen years, since they first started playing the onscreen gay couple on a then hit television show. Neither man has had a successful relationship probably ever. Jesse is recently single from his long term boyfriend and Kaye is on divorce number three. And Jesse has to wonder why now? Why is Kaye on his doorstep after so many years? Will this Christmas be the one where he finally gets his wish? I tried very hard to like this story. The narration was great, in fact, that is why the book is getting 3 stars instead of 2, Stellman knocked it out of the park as usual. My issue was majorly with Kaye. I kind of liked him at the start of the story but the more he talked and the more his story unfolded, I liked him less and less. Owens tried to save face for the character by the end, but it was just too little, too late for me. My heart broke for Jesse, I just felt like the way I interpreted the character of Kaye that Jesse was not getting the pick of the liter. So, story wise and character wise this was a 2 star for me. There was some good writing in there; I just couldn’t even get a feel for Kaye. Narration was fantastic though. * I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kendra T

    This was an OK book for me. Kaye and Jesse had been friends but it had been 10 years since they had seen or talked with each other. While I do think there are friends that can have a strong friendship and then get back together like that time hadn't passed, it annoyed me that Kaye just walked right in expecting Jesse to drop everything he had lined up around the holidays, just because Kaye was back. He never called him in the last 10 years or kept in touch. Jesse, the poor lovesick fool, lets hi This was an OK book for me. Kaye and Jesse had been friends but it had been 10 years since they had seen or talked with each other. While I do think there are friends that can have a strong friendship and then get back together like that time hadn't passed, it annoyed me that Kaye just walked right in expecting Jesse to drop everything he had lined up around the holidays, just because Kaye was back. He never called him in the last 10 years or kept in touch. Jesse, the poor lovesick fool, lets him back in with no problem but then Kaye really starts messing with his head and heart. He wants to be together but not really...he wants to try physical stuff but not really...he wants kids but not really. He won't come out of the closet...but he wants a relationship with an out/not going to hide it man. His wishy washy attitude was annoying. I feel like the story was a bit too short for me to see if this was really a HEA or if it was just a HFN because of Kaye's hangups.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sadonna

    This was a really interesting story about two men who have not seen each other in 10 years. They costarred on a TV show together playing gay characters but parted ways after 8 years on the show. Jesse has been out since the second season. Kaye would never comment, but he's in the midst of this third divorce. Jesse's also been in love with Kaye since they met 18 years before, but he's never acted on those feelings assuming Kaye was straight. Turns out Kaye might not be as straight as everybody th This was a really interesting story about two men who have not seen each other in 10 years. They costarred on a TV show together playing gay characters but parted ways after 8 years on the show. Jesse has been out since the second season. Kaye would never comment, but he's in the midst of this third divorce. Jesse's also been in love with Kaye since they met 18 years before, but he's never acted on those feelings assuming Kaye was straight. Turns out Kaye might not be as straight as everybody thinks he is. I thought it was an interesting premise and the family dynamic and therapy that Kaye has been through played into the story. I was kind of surprised that Jesse would allow Kaye to do the things he did. But then again, Jesse's been in love with the guy for 18 years, so many not so surprising.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melora

    ★★½ - Okay to pass the time with, but be prepared to roll your eyes. (view spoiler)[ The storytelling is fine, it's the story itself that didn't work for me. Kaye has a lot of hangups and issues and I actually thought that part of his background worked. He just seemed too aloof and very indifferent about what he wanted. The ten year gap without any communication also bothered me, not so much for the fact that it existed, but that they could just pick back up as if nothing happened. (hide spoiler)] ★★½ - Okay to pass the time with, but be prepared to roll your eyes. (view spoiler)[ The storytelling is fine, it's the story itself that didn't work for me. Kaye has a lot of hangups and issues and I actually thought that part of his background worked. He just seemed too aloof and very indifferent about what he wanted. The ten year gap without any communication also bothered me, not so much for the fact that it existed, but that they could just pick back up as if nothing happened. (hide spoiler)]

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brandilyn

    Reviewed by Brandilyn for Prism Book Alliance. I am not sure what I was expecting going into Happiness for Beginners by Zhara Owens. That isn't quite true, I thought we were in for a fairly typical second chance romance for two lovers who never had a first chance. While that is, to an extent, what we were offered, we were also given the story of two men that may not have a second chance. Find the whole review at http://www.prismbookalliance.com/?pos... Reviewed by Brandilyn for Prism Book Alliance. I am not sure what I was expecting going into Happiness for Beginners by Zhara Owens. That isn't quite true, I thought we were in for a fairly typical second chance romance for two lovers who never had a first chance. While that is, to an extent, what we were offered, we were also given the story of two men that may not have a second chance. Find the whole review at http://www.prismbookalliance.com/?pos...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anke

    Ok - so today I obviously have the "Zahra Owens Reading", as this was the third story by her I read, but unfortunately this was the one I liked less. The writing still was very good, I got into the story at once and wanted to know, what happens next. What didn't work for me was the reason Kaye gave for his aloofness regarding Jesse and the proceedings from then on. Sorry, these are supposed to be men in their 40s, therefore it was incomprehensible to me. Ok - so today I obviously have the "Zahra Owens Reading", as this was the third story by her I read, but unfortunately this was the one I liked less. The writing still was very good, I got into the story at once and wanted to know, what happens next. What didn't work for me was the reason Kaye gave for his aloofness regarding Jesse and the proceedings from then on. Sorry, these are supposed to be men in their 40s, therefore it was incomprehensible to me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kate Reads

    I was expecting something fluffier I think. This was interesting. I didn't really get what the Jesse saw in the other MC really though I liked the way Jesse loved him - with patience, tenderness, and dedication. I found his sister made me a little uncomfortable with her comment about having grown up fantasies about them together. I think it was supposed to be funny but it just me feel squicky. There were funny moments though and others may not find his sister off putting. I was expecting something fluffier I think. This was interesting. I didn't really get what the Jesse saw in the other MC really though I liked the way Jesse loved him - with patience, tenderness, and dedication. I found his sister made me a little uncomfortable with her comment about having grown up fantasies about them together. I think it was supposed to be funny but it just me feel squicky. There were funny moments though and others may not find his sister off putting.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This dealt with quite a serious subject for a Christmas story. Jesse has been in love with Kaye for 18 years but he thinks Kaye is straight. The truth turns out to be a lot more complicated than that, though, and there are a lot of ups and downs for such a short story. The ending felt a little inconclusive to me and I would have liked to see the two men a bit further down the road to have faith that their relationship would last.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bubbles Hunty Honest & Direct Opinions

    Starts at 0% and ends at 94% Ok mm story. Not really that great or anything. Slow paced and characters made no sense to me and the whole ten years no contact thing just made it hard for me to like them and I don't see the connection between them. Just didn't work for me Starts at 0% and ends at 94% Ok mm story. Not really that great or anything. Slow paced and characters made no sense to me and the whole ten years no contact thing just made it hard for me to like them and I don't see the connection between them. Just didn't work for me

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tamela

    I'm not sure if I liked Kaye. It might be because I have a problem with people who can waste so much precious time... 10 years without a word. But love means being forgiven after a lot of groveling and begging :) I'm not sure if I liked Kaye. It might be because I have a problem with people who can waste so much precious time... 10 years without a word. But love means being forgiven after a lot of groveling and begging :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tame

    I got a bit lost in the wording of the book, to be honest, but I liked the interaction of the family and the 2 main characters the best.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Idamus

    I really lied the first half, but then stuff happened that I didn't feel made any sense. 2.5 stars I really lied the first half, but then stuff happened that I didn't feel made any sense. 2.5 stars

  21. 5 out of 5

    OkayKim

    3.25

  22. 4 out of 5

    melek

    Jesse and Kaye once played a gay couple on TV , but Jesse left that fame and fortune years ago. Now 10 years later Kaye is back. And jesse still hasn't forget how in love he is with him Jesse and Kaye once played a gay couple on TV , but Jesse left that fame and fortune years ago. Now 10 years later Kaye is back. And jesse still hasn't forget how in love he is with him

  23. 4 out of 5

    Indigo

    2.5*

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kiki

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mel Bradley

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ilana De Rivas

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Adams

  30. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

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