I just finished reading Johnny's latest novel "Learning to Samba" (LTS). It lived up to my expectations.
I will say again that LTS is the best in Johnny's ongoing evolution as an author. You can feel the difference between this piece and the previous "Lauderdale Hearts" (LH), both of which I was privileged to see in their earlier incarnations. Both are unmistakably Johnny Miles, but LTS has a "feel" to it that LH was only just exploring. I wonder how much more his voice is going to refine itself along the way? And is that process ever completed or do we all just continue to open our hearts like a flower unfolding, showing our inner thoughts and self to the world?
But this is a review of a book, a great book, and not a philosophical debate of why anyone chooses to share themselves in such a potentially intimate fashion.
Brian's and João's story touches on many things. Learning to deal with loss and moving on with one's own life chief among them. It's also a story about family and doesn't just confine itself to our two heroes. In LTS, Johnny explores some broad family issues and interactions. I think the most important message is that one shouldn't allow assumptions to limit one's choices. Never imagine that your family can't or won't forgive and be there for you. It's what families do. Some may take longer to come around and some may never understand you, but don't assume they won't. Give them the chance to be what you need.
And of course the naughty parts explored new ground both for his characters and his readers, ranging from classic candles-and-roses romantic to mild BDSM. Handcuffs and blindfolds and tails, oh my!
Overall I found "Learning to Samba" to be a great read and recommend it to anyone.