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Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2020
Luis Tavares Barros Serralves (Luis Triple Barreled Surname, according to Quinn) is a young lawyer with a job waiting for him at his very wealthy family’s law firm. He is on his third rotation as an intern and the one thing he knows is – he “… felt jealous of Bruno the building assistant… in as much as he envied anyone working at Barros Serralves.” It’s not easy for him working at a place he doesn’t like with family that has very specific ideas on “…how it should be done.” Silly things such as carrying a toy bag are cause for reprimand. His mother, Isabel, left his father and Luis, so he’s stuck with a father and stepbrothers who don’t treat him well and make jibes about him and his mother. “You supervising the Christmas decorations? Got your artistic sensibilities from your mother, no doubt.”
Two years ago Luis met Quinn, an exchange student from Ireland studying in Lisbon. Quinn is the breath of real air that Luis has been dying for. Quinn brings out the Luis that he wants to be. He also brings out the snark in Luis. “Sorry. That was… unmannerly, shall we say.” “My English isn’t so good. Does that mean rude?” Luis enquired.”
They are so cute together and their banter made me smile. “My little preppy is not an acceptable term of endearment.” “Okay. Luis, meu pastelinho de nata–” “Neither is ‘my little custard tart’, for God’s sake!”
They share an embarrassment about their names (Luis Maria Tavares Barros Serralves and Tiarnan Mary Quinn) as well as joy in each other. They take things slow with visits and dates. Quinn gets Luis to get out and do things and Luis tries his best to not be caught up in work when Quinn is around.
The problem comes when Luis can’t make himself go with Quinn for Easter. He has family obligations that he isn’t brave enough to turn down and he lets Quinn go. They end up with two years apart. So the story is told with a bit of flashback from then to now.
It does seem to jump a bit from two years apart to being together and I felt like I was missing something there. When Quinn makes his grand gesture Luis’s family is there and though we are told the family reaction was not good, we don’t get to see what happened. It made the scene a little unbelievable for me. I can’t imagine they would not react. But Quinn’s gift to Luis was the perfect thing and the pages after Easter so powerful.
Quinn understands more than Luis thinks about family. Luis is so worried because he knows that his family will never understand him being gay. “Mine didn’t. Not all. My father’s a garda. A cop. Only just started acknowledging me again. One brother still doesn’t.” So he knows more than Luis thinks about how difficult it all is.
I liked the epilogue and thought it was a fitting way to end the story.