Bisexual | Asexual Fiction ‘Ace,’ by Jack Byrne  -  Review By Caer Jones - Apr 23, 2016  


I was a bit hesitant to start Jack Byrne’s Ace. The blurb was a bit off-putting, and when I cruised the reviews they were decidedly mixed. I gave it a go anyway, though, and I’m glad I did.
Jake is an Australian farmer who’s relatively content with just his dog for company. Sure he’d like the companionship of a partner, but his lack of interest in sex has always been the kiss of death to relationships. When he meets a guy in a bar who expresses interest he’s sure it won’t go anywhere. And says so.
Damien is awfully determined to prove Jake wrong, but taking Jake’s disinterest in sex as a personal rejection will doom their relationship before it starts.
Y’all. So. Many. Feels.
They’re not really because of the story line, either. It’s not all angst or anything. Ace is actually a fairly simple story, with nothing I’d even call a plot twist. The biggest conflicts are Damien thinking sexual interest and romantic interest are the same thing (which is common for sexual people), and Jake feeling insecure because he can’t be what he thinks Damien needs (which is common for aces).
It’s just that this book – the whole thing – resonated with me on such a deep level!
Jake has never heard of asexuality
Jake has never heard of asexuality, so he has no handy way to articulate how he feels. This is why ace visibility is so important. Figuring out asexuality in the first place is hard enough, but doing it without the vocabulary is even harder. You’re trying to define something by its lack, and you only know it exists at all because other people say it does. It can be incredibly challenging for all involved.
This quote really captured the whole thing for me. Jake is trying to explain himself to Damien:
“It’s in all the literature, isn’t it? ‘He identified as gay. She identified as straight.’ Gay people say ‘I was born this way. This is who I am.’ All those marvelous gay affirmations. A kick in the teeth to the ones among us who don’t have an identity.”
That kick in the teeth? I’ve felt that. I struggled just like Jake did to find my identity. I didn’t understand I was ace until my late 20s/early 30s, and not having a label for myself shaped so much about my life and my relationships. I got that about Jake, what that felt like for him. I also got the choices he made, and the compromises, because I’ve absolutely been there.
Someone wanting Damien sexually is how he knows he’s wanted, period
I totally got Damien too, though. He’s all the people I dated before I figured things out. He’s a very sexual guy, and as we get to know him better we realize just how much “sex” and “love” are connected together for him. Someone wanting Damien sexually is how he knows he’s wanted, period. And who doesn’t want to be wanted?
Once we understand that it’s obvious why Damien gets frustrated by what he thinks are Jake’s mixed signals! Jake’s just separating concepts that Damien bundles all together, and without the vocabulary it’s hard for them to see where their communication is breaking down.
For those wondering, Jake and Damien do eventually have sex. It’s even good sex. Jake isn’t completely sex-repulsed, and he requires a lot of warm-up before he’s actually physically interested, but he can enjoy sex. And has in the past. He’s just not motivated by it.
It was nice to see that one awesome bone sesh didn’t change Jake’s orientation – he’s not “fixed” – and I think that right there helped Damien put things into context for himself. It also relieved one of my biggest concerns from the blurb.
Also? There is a ton of diversity in the ace community, and it is fantastic to see a variation represented that isn’t “never ever has sex ever”. I feel like all too often aces get pigeon-holed into that one narrow category, and that makes it harder for other aces to find their way.
The best thing about Ace is that it’s real
I think the best thing about Ace is that it’s real. It’s not all pretty, or perfect, or politically correct. This isn’t a “how to” guide for dealing with asexuality, or an idealized perspective of it. This is the tale of two guys who feel a connection trying to navigate a relationship together when neither can articulate the pitfalls they find on the way. As an ace myself I have a new rec for people looking for reads with asexual characters, and if you’re at all curious about how asexuality might look in context pick this one up.
Author: Jack Byrne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 15, 2015
Length:
210 pages
Purchase: Amazon (Kindle) / All Romance eBooks (epub, mobi, Adobe Acrobat) / Your formats/platforms
Review copy obtained from Dreamspinner Press at no charge in exchange for a fair and honest review.