Review: A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat by Roe Horvat


Title: A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat 
Author: Roe Horvat
Genre: MM romance

Author links: Website / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 4 Stars


Simon had always expected love to feel different than this. Whether it was his Catholic upbringing or the poetry he'd read - Simon had thought that true love would be uplifting, fulfilling, that it would give a meaning to his loitering, and add joy to his leisure. But not this kind of love. This love was a flesh-eating monster, sharp-clawed and evil-eyed, ravishing his mind with medieval cruelty.

Dr Simon Mráz is a respected specialist and lecturer at the Charles University in Prague. He is a serious man, responsible. His students call him The Cruel Doctor Frost not because he's unkind, but because of his unwavering, ice-cold composure. As a psychiatrist, he values sanity. And sanity can be found in work, restraint, and self-control.

Not many know of that one time in the past when The Cruel Doctor Frost lost his cool. His ill-advised, secret affair with a student left Simon deeply wounded. Since that day, every minute of Simon's life has been a struggle to remain sane, functioning. He's managed so far - as long as he is needed, as long as his work makes a difference, Simon can scrape together enough strength to get up in the morning and run off the nightmares. But when his friends begin drifting away, his beloved protégé becomes independent, and the man who bereaved Simon of his precious sanity might return... Simon's mind and body stop responding to his impressive willpower.


I loved Roe Horvat debut mm novella, The Layover which I read earlier this year after a friend recommended it on Twitter. When the author offered ARCs of  their latest release, I jumped at the chance and wow, what a story that turned out to be - achingly beautiful!

The story is told in 3 parts - present, past and back to the present. It's a very angsty romance, heart-breaking, the first two parts in particular brought tears to my eyes more times than I care to admit. While I liked the ending, I felt it was a bit rushed and would have loved to see more of the way Simon and Matej worked the issues between them. 

Simon is a brilliant portrayal of a complicated man going through difficult times. He appeared cold and disillusioned, a cynic masking his pain behind sarcasm and lashing out on his friends in an attempt to hide how lonely and miserable he is. He is a psychiatrist and tries to self-diagnose (he has dysthimia) and self-medicate himself... that doesn't go very well.

He is a truly unforgettable character. We see him with his friends and colleagues and family and glimpses of his time with Matej and i every interaction we see a different facet of his personality. He appears cold and unapproachable and yet I wanted to hold him close, promise him that everything will be OK, give him hope to go on.

And then we have Matej, a complete opposite to Simon in so many ways, attractive, lilvely, the center of any party but very much like Simon, acting out in order to escape his issues. We don't get his POV until late in the story and this kept me as a reader in the same position as Simon, totally enamoured with Matej, yet angry and confused about his actions. And then, boom he is back and the everything tilts off its axis. 

We do get his perspective on things before and now, yet I felt it wasn't enough. I wanted to see how he got to be the person he was when he got back, how he dealt with the past and became who he was in the present.

Part 3, the resolution felt a bit rushed. We see Simon and Matej angry and hurt and so far apart from each other and then the forgiveness and getting together happened without them really working through their issues. I read this as HFN ending with the promise for them to work together on overcoming past hurts and both acknowledging the efforts it would take to be together and showing a commitment to go all the way.

One of the best things in this story for me was the strong sense of place the author created. As an Eastern European myself it spoke to me so much and made me feel at home. Prague reminded me a lot of Sofia - with its old small steers, the summer heat, the tramways, the old majestic buildings, the pressures of the old patriarchal society.

Overall, I really enjoy this author's writing style and find their stories speak to me on deeply personal level. This mm romance is a recommended reading if you are looking for a emotionally intense story that will give you all the feels.

PS: There are some deleted scenes on the author's website that are not to be missed.

Purchase links: Publisher / Amazon

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