The next story in the collection is mine, “There’s No Question It’s Love”.  I hope you enjoy it. But now, moving on…

 “Save the Last Dance for Me” by David Puterbaugh from Best Gay Romance 2014 (Cleis Press).

I absolutely adored this, the final story of the collection. In fact, it’s my personal favorite. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s got the perfect romantic setting – a transatlantic voyage. It has two great couples – the protagonist and his boyfriend Matthew, and Gene and Ed, an older couple the main character has known for a decade, and who have been together for over four decades. It’s got a little camp and a lot of heart, and it’s got inner and outer conflict.

We learn that the main character continually wrestles with his desire to be affectionate in public, something he knows his boyfriend Matthew desires, and his understanding that being open is still dangerous. They’ve had slurs hurled at them by perfect strangers, and he feels that the ship’s other passengers, crowding in around them, might harbor the same hostility. When he voices his frustrations, Gene and Ed remind him (and us) how far things have come and how fast. It never feels, though, as if the story devolves into a history lecture.

The end is very sweetly romantic. The main character takes action that, in hindsight, is the obvious conclusion, but I failed to see coming because I was so caught up in the story. And the image that ends the piece? Priceless.