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  1. Welcome to the PhD club, Dr. Arbour. Send me some of your academic writing so I can give you a proper hazing as a welcome. 😛
  2. I'm so sorry to hear that you've been laid low by such a insidious illness. I hope that it's symptoms subside soon so that you can at least find a better quality of daily life for yourself. You deserve the best and we're all wishing it for you here!
  3. I'm glad to hear others have moved on to worried from impatient. If any of his editors could just say "he's fine," I know I'd feel better. Hope you're all well!
  4. samjones1

    Chapter 10

    Yikes...as informative as the earlier parts of the chapter were, it's clear that the final few sentences are the crux of the matter. This is right around the time when there were issues with protein supplements having undisclosed PEDs in them. I hope I'm wrong, but it sounds like we have WW 2.5 on our hands now.
  5. I drove past Don Bosco on my way home for Easter today and thought of you and your stories. I hope everything is going well with you and that we'll hear from you again when thinfs settle down! :-)
  6. It's great to hear from you, Mark, and know that it isn't a health thing that's keeping you away. I hope that things calm down for you soon and that you can meet with a bit more leisure. I'm using this time productively to re-read the Bridgemont series...hopefully all your other readers take the time to go back and savor what you've already done as well!
  7. samjones1

    Chapter 39

    It's been a while since I posted, but I thought I'd pop in to give my two cents since I have a few free minutes. Unlike some reviewers, I think the current direction of the plot makes a lot of sense conditional on understanding everyone's motivation. Mary-Ellen is, for all intents and purposes, still under the thumb of her family - particularly Mom. Getting pregnant makes a lot of aense as an attempt to change that situation, and her willingness to bear some indignity from Alex perhaps points to just how intolerable she finds her lack of control over her own life. While it may cost her family money, she'd end up being relatively independent at the end. This is, of course, if you don't buy her explanation of wanting to follow her father's wishes...which I don't so much. Alex, for his part, is simply following his familial duties in trying to make the best of a bad situation. To dishonor the family is rather worse, to him, than hurting JJ or himself. It's really sad, but I've seen people do worse for much more trivial reasons. And JJ...well, there's a song from the musical "Ballroom" called Fifty Percent which talks about how he might be feeling. He's young and in love and is willing to do what he can to preserve that love. He isn't an adult yet, something which is easy to overlook given how independent he is now. In several years, he might not be willing to bear this sort of treatment. But we've all been in high school and suffered through out first love. While my family would have stopped me from doing something like this, JJ's family is much more libertine and hands off when it comes to this sort of thing. I can see him coming to a realization in the not-so-distant future that he needs to have a monogamous relationship rather than this arrangement. Or maybe he is bi and prefers this. Or something else. It's iust too soon to say for sure what he wants or needs. It's not too much for Mark to show the contortions of young love in this way and I find the whirlwind emotions JJ is showing to be rather lifelike. In any event, I'm loving the plot line. Keep up the great work!!!
  8. samjones1

    Chapter 22

    I love reading this story so much, both for the action and the intrigue. It's interesting how this turn of events really drives home the changes in society over the past few centuries. Jay-Z is basically praised for letting Solange Knowles wail on him without any response. Ray Rice has basically lost his career for abusing his wife...well, or for doing so in a public place on camera (the NFL doesn't seem to care about wife beating that goes on without video evidence). Most people think that is as it should be. In your story, by contrast, we have two men basically plotting to subdue an unruly wife. In fact, the trip appears to be partly designed to achieve that goal by Elgin. Granger is eager to help: mostly to punish her plotting against him personally, but at least partly to reinforce societal norms of wifely propriety and subservience. I don't know if you have thought of the situation in light of recent events (you probably have knowing how thoughtful you are), but either way it really brings alive history for the reader. It's like 18th century Mad Men in it's drama and social commentary! Great work as always, but don't overwork yourself at the start of the term.
  9. Such a great end to a great book in the CAP series, Mark! Thanks for giving us a happy ending and an excellent story! I'm already looking forward to the next one.
  10. samjones1

    Chapter 40

    I thought that I would roll my eyes when Matt finally turned out to be negative (and yes, I own that statement as being simultaneously hopeful and jaded), the explanation for the false positive coupled with the exploration of how people respond to the threat of HIV/AIDS these days was really quite thought provoking. I'm of Matt and Wade's generation, but I tend to think of HIV/AIDS on an emotional level as still being a death sentence even though I know logically that it isn't. I attribute this to having a lot of friends who are older than me and who remember when people started contracting it in the 80s. In any event, you handle it in such an insightful and sensitive way its hard to fault you for reporting that things have turned out in favor of my preferences - with Matt turning out to be negative and his relationship with Wade on the mend. Great work as always, Mark!
  11. samjones1

    Chapter 36

    Another excellent chapter, Mark! I will be interested to see how all this progresses with JJ given Matt's willingness to use some of his influence to help keep him in line. I hadn't considered that JJ could be a big problem buT I realize it could well be given his loyalty to Matt.
  12. samjones1

    Chapter 34

    I know it's been a while since I've written a review (blah, blah, dissertation pressure, blah, blah), but I wanted to take a second to write one for this chapter (and the related recent chapters). This series of events feels so true to life. A deep connection isn't something that just goes away when you stop being physically intimate with someone. In fact, I've always found the non-physical aspects of my relationships much harder to get past. In the case of Wade and Matt, it was easy for them to continue their emotional intimacy once they re-established their friendship because that has been the pattern of their relationship. They trust each other and have supported each other through difficult times (notwithstanding Matt's meltdown post-9/11). That connection also reflects the love that they share for each other - deep connections often arise from love, in my experience. I think what many of us miss, to our detriment, is that relationships are about more than just love. Relationships must fulfill a variety of needs: sexual, intellectual, emotional, etc. Wade's reaction to meeting Alex and subsequent crush, in my mind, reflects a missing component in his relationship with Matt that has been underplayed in this story but which would be a bigger problem in real life. Back when they met, I recall Matt reacting to the wealth of JP and Stefan with a comment abut how he grew up around country clubs and wealth and wouldn't be intimidated by them. Matt shares a similar background to JP and, excepting his young life in Paris, Stefan. Wade's patrician background, on the other hand, is on a completely different level. At some level, the difference in their upbringing must create some distance with Matt. I don't want to suggest that Wade is some kind of snob. This doesn't mean, however, that he doesn't notice the difference. I share an office with a fellow who chews with his mouth open. I know that he's a brilliant person, a good father, and a lovely person, but I want to put him in a Sleeper Hold every time I hear start to eat lunch. We've all been in a relationship (or most of us have, at least) where a habit that wasn't bothersome at the start of the relationship became unbearable by the end. For Wade, the allure of being with his social "equal" must be incredibly alluring: a case of the grass being greener at the very least. Even if Wade and Matt end up happily together by the end of this story, I think this dalliance will highlight a missing piece in their relationship which might suggest a change in the final state of that relationship. Matt's growth in Chicago will likely be a critical piece of that change. I hadn't considered that Alex might be a golddigger. He sure picked the right mine if so! Your work continues to be stellar, Mark.. This chapter made me slightly queasy, but I saw it coming so was prepared for it! :-P
  13. samjones1

    Chapter 9

    I suppose that I got my wish for sexy times, albeit in an unexpected package. I was totally sucked in by this chapter and the potential for future drama it created. I think I better understand the deal that Will had with Brad and Wade after seeing it through Matt's eyes...being able to defend something doesn't make it advisable, I suppose. The fact that Brad didnt immediately drop the dime on Matt speaks volumes about how much blowback he anticipates this causing. I found it interesting that you mentioned, in your response to my last review, the fact that Wade and Brad could have supported each other without sex. Throughout this series of stories, however, we have been presented with examples of people who cope through sex. Brad had sex with Mouse on at least two occasions with the purpose of comforting him, including while he was infected with AIDS, because of Mouse's need to conflate love and sex. If this were Stefan, I don't think anybody would question that sex would be part of support. Don't mistake my meaning here - these characters are consistent and logical however they choose to deal with their problems. I am simply suggesting that it doesn't seem unusual that they would choose to support each other with their dicks rather than choosing to support each other with hugs and words. :-P As always, great work!
  14. samjones1

    Chapter 8

    I'm feeling about where several other readers are with all this...hooray for a little support nookie, boo for Will being such a self-righteous prig. I generally view Will as one of my favorite characters, but I just don't like the whole "I barged into your room after a half-assed effort to get your attention and discovered something that I'm now good to lord over you like a douche!" Is it a big deal for Wade and Brad to be sleeping together? Yes. Is it the same as Jake? Absolutely not. I hope that Brad will engage in a full-throated defense of those differences in the coming chapters. Wade and Matt were clearly separated and Wade told Matt they were not getting back together and that he didn't love him anymore. Wade is not a blood relation (or the equivalent). I hope that Brad is able to not-so-subtly put Will in his place with regards to these shenanigans. If I were Brad, I would come clean and take the wind out of Will's sails... It's going to come out eventually because Will is not subtle (God love him, but he isn't...everyone will be asking what's going on with him as Brad before the end of the day). Great chapter all around...but I wasn't surprised by Wadr won't the FWB. In my mind, he's the only one who made sense. :-D
  15. samjones1

    Chapter 6

    This story is destroying me...you know that, right? I've been going through a situation in which I'm Matt (albeit a much less buff version) and the man of my dreams is pushing me away. The pattern of the conflict has basically followed the timeline of your chapter posts, so I spend the ten minutes after reading your chapters in tears because my feelings are so much like what Matt is going through. Everything in today's chapter is correct, but the missing feeling here is the emptiness that inevitably follows the decision to "stop feeling pathetic". I've been on a series of increasingly hilarious dates since we decided to stop dating and just focus on our friendship, but one of those people are "him". I feel desirable, sure, but I can't shake the loss. I can save my pride, but I can't save my feelings...and I think Matt is going to spend a lot of time in that empty place once even after he supposedly moves on. Matt has a good head start on dealing with all this due to the six months of being apart, but I don't know if you ever really move in from losing your soulmate. I'll be interested to see how he deals with it all going forward. In any event, your work is always impressive. The previous paragraph is meant as a compliment toward you, one I know you will appreciate since you know well that the best writing is writing that leaves you feeling and thinking. One request though: please give us some sex soon so I can stop wallowing by proxy. :-D
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