Spoiler alerts: If you haven’t read the earlier books in the series, then this review might give away some of what you’ll best discover for yourself. Also, there are strong hints at what happens in this book.
It’s time for another year with my favorite sometimes-but-often-not submissive houseboy. This volume covers the year of 2008 and returns to the style of the first two books, with lots of little ‘diary’ entries alongside longer, detailed stories of particular episodes in the topsy-turvy world of Gillibran Brown, houseboy and young pup to two masters, Dick and Shane. It isn’t easy, being Gilli. The young man’s struggle with epilepsy is once again front-and-center in this book, and it really does become a literal struggle as his two daddies try and force their young lover to come to terms with the limits the condition puts on how he lives his life.
The thing that really made me sit up and take notice when I first started reading this series is the way the books delivered some very deep messages beneath what can be very light and sometimes hilarious writing. “Gilliflowers” feels a little more serious than the first two books, but then the challenges faced by the young man are getting bigger and harder for him to accept. In some ways, he is very lucky to have two men in his life who care about him so much, but of course he doesn’t always see it that way, especially when they try to force him to make changes to his lifestyle to accommodate his condition.
While Dick and Shane have clearly made the right decisions about what Gilli needs to do, it’s easy to side with the houseboy’s view that they’re being at least a little bit too unreasonable. Their demand that the young man simply deal with it, without giving him any tools to help him cope, seems rather heartless. But, of course, it’s good to remember that we’re getting only Gilli’s side of what happened. It’s entirely possible that his boyfriends aren’t nearly the monsters he sometimes makes them out to be.
What hit me especially hard in this book is when Gilli starts to think he’s being a burden on his daddies and wonders why they put up with him and his condition. We’ve probably all had times when we wondered why someone we loved stuck around after we’ve disappointed them. That’s the thing about our hero, he can’t seem to stop himself from being naughty, but he knows he’s being bad and wants to be good.
This is the most emotionally hard-hitting book of the series so far, which is why I’ve given it five stars.