Summer Revelations by Gabriel Stonehouse is a very different erotic novel. It actually has the courage to humanize the characters beyond their sexual desires, making their lives as much a part of the story as their carnal escapades. The people that fill the pages of Summer Revelations are not your typical erotic characters. Instead they are very regular couples, coming to a crossroads in their lives and finding an opportunity to feel again.
Alec is sixty-two years old, still fit and retired with Clara, his wife of forty years. Clara has taken a part time job to keep active and it takes her out of town and into the city, leaving Alec alone. But Alec has been for sometime now. Clara has recently gone through menopause. The result being that her sex drive has diminished to the point of only wanting to have sex a few times a year. Not only that, her reaction to Alec initiating any kind of physical contact is met with anger. But Alec loves his wife and the life they’ve built together is worth sharing any way they still can.
While Clara is away, Alec decides to join a cycling club. As he rides with the rest of the group, he finds he cannot stop staring at the instructor Paula. She is in her forties, outgoing and he could almost believe she is noticing him as well. Soon they find themselves alone in her cottage and Alec allows himself to be seduced. With Paula, he discovers the sexual being he has put aside. Whether for his marriage or the false belief that his age would keep him from feeling sexual. Soon they are joined by Paula’s friend Kristy and the three begin to experiment sexually with one another. The relationships begin simply as a sexual release but soon, they cannot deny the care and love they feel for one another.
Alec begins a journey of self discovery with his sexual partners, keeping in his mind that his actions will not impact his marriage. This, of course is delusional. But he goes forward without apology, much in the way the Clara has shut down their sex life without explanation or apology. He does not limit his adventures to Paula and Kristy alone but to one night stands and a budding relationship with the local veterinarian. All of these women are older and bring not only their eagerness, but their experience to the relationships.
This is where the separation from the normal erotic novel and Summer Revelations gets clearer. The novel deals heavily with Alec and his rationalization of his actions. His journey of self discovery, in his mind, will enrich his marriage. Yet he works hard to keep it hidden from the rest of the world.
Summer Revelations is explicit in its sexual content, but the monotone pace of the novel keeps it from getting too exciting and that in itself is its greatest weakness. Alec often narrates as if he is watching the scene unfold rather than the participant he actually is. His contemplation of the new experiences in his life are as superficial as they are intriguing. His infidelity is not the acts of a lustful youth. Instead they become a reaffirmation of his own worth. The women he shares himself with find with Alec, their lost beauty, their lost desire and in someways, their lost sense of value.
What makes Summer Revelations such a good read is that unlike most erotic novels, it roots itself in the reality of growing older and the impact age and change has on a long term relationship.