Byrnes, Rob 1958-
Byrnes, Rob 1958-
Born 1958, in Rochester, NY. Education: Graduated from Union College.
Writer. Has worked in politics.
The Night We Met, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Trust Fund Boys, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2004.
When the Stars Come Out, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to Strange Bedfellows, edited by Dominic Santi and Debra Hyde, Xlibris, 2000. Also author of Rob Byrnes Blog.
Rob Byrnes writes novels featuring homosexual protagonists that critics have praised as well-written entertainments that do not dwell on such heavy themes as AIDS and social stigmas. In reviewing When the Stars Come Out, Randy Ham observed on the OUTstanding Amarillo Web site, that Byrnes's book does not fall into one of the two typical gay literature categories of "A) Groaning Under The Weight Of It's Self Importance, or B) So Tawdry It Would Make Jackie Susann blush." Instead, "Byrnes has managed to conjure a third category of gay fiction for me: Relevant, and yet Spicy."
In his "charming debut romance" The Night We Met, as Whitney Scott described it in Booklist, struggling writer Andrew Westlake falls in love with a closeted, gay Mafioso named Frank DiBenedetto. Despite warnings from friends, he becomes romantically involved, only to find himself the target of both Frank's fiancée and various mobsters. "A rousing conclusion powered by mistaken identity, car chases, guns and narrow escapes sets the icing on this confection," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor, who called the book a "clever, compulsively readable first novel."
Comedy and a satirical look at high society mark Byrnes's sophomore effort, Trust Fund Boys. A handsome, down-on-his-luck actor teams up with his lover to win the affections of wealthy but closeted gay men by convincing them they are well-to-do "trust fund boys." It is a colorful tale that Out in Baltimore Web site reviewer H.M. Key admitted is not "high literature … but certainly [offers] some great writing and an interesting story." Key asserted that "Trust Fund Boys proves that [The Night We Met] … was not just a fluke." Although a Publisher Weekly called this particular offering a "facile, featherweight beach read" filled with unsympathetic characters, Scott, writing again in Booklist, named it a "charming, well-paced gay romance."
When the Stars Come Out is Byrnes's most complex novel to date. Writer Noah Abraham is working, unsuccessfully, on a book about closeted gay men working in Beltway politics when he stumbles upon a bigger story. Coming home to New York after his father has a heart attack, Noah meets Bart, the personal assistant to former B-movie star Quinn Scott. Quinn's career was destroyed when his actress ex-wife, Kitty Randolph, learned he was gay. Noah decides that Quinn's story is more interesting than the project he was working on, and Byrnes uses this set up to explore the relationships between Noah, Bart, Quinn, Kitty, and Quinn's lover, Jimmy. "The secret to a book like this is its believable, sympathetic characters," stated Ham, who concluded: "Not many books can leave you feeling inspired, but this one does." Booklist critic Scott declared that "Byrnes turns out another deftly written and enticingly complex gay romance." A Publishers Weekly contributor admitted the novel has some "cheesy moments," but added that "clever dialogue and an astute rendering of the prices people pay to keep secrets buried" will appeal to readers of all sorts.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2002, Whitney Scott, review of The Night We Met, p. 65; May 1, 2004, Whitney Scott, review of Trust Fund Boys, p. 1544; September 15, 2006, Whitney Scott, review of When the Stars Come Out, p. 37.
Lambda Book Report, winter, 2007, Tom Eubanks, review of When the Stars Come Out, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, August 26, 2002, review of The Night We Met, p. 41; May 24, 2004, review of Trust Fund Boys, p. 43; July 10, 2006, review of When the Stars Come Out, p. 54.
Books to Watch Out For,http://www.btwof.com/ (May 1, 2004), Richard Labonte, review of Trust Fund Boys.
Out in Baltimore,http://www.outinbaltimore.com/ (September 24, 2004), H.M. Key, review of Trust Fund Boys.
OUTstanding Amarillo,http://www.outstandingamarillo.org/ (January 1, 2007), Randy Ham, review of When the Stars Come Out.