The Choice of Men: a novel


When his first sexual encounter is with his Mormon missionary companion – a man – Heber Averil is first elated and then dismayed.

His near-drowning the next day in the Loire river convinces him that here, on his mission to pre-World War II France where he has promised to serve the Lord, his very soul is in peril.

He vows to never again touch a man, yet a year later he finds himself in the arms of an alluring Frenchman.

As the years pass the struggle to reconcile the church’s teachings, love for his family, and his true nature haunts every aspect of his life.

Paperback and ebook are available on Amazon. Paperback is available at Bookshop and for order at all online and local book stores.


The Choice of Men is a poignant and resonant story of one man’s struggle between his basic nature and his desire to follow the tenants of his religion. Although the novel is set in the ‘40s and early ‘50s, the issues explored in it continue today for many men and women, and for those who love them. It’s a must read.”
— Herbert Piekow, Writer

“Samantha Waltz tells a poignant story of forbidden love, inspired by her father’s life. I’m impressed with how well Waltz captured the tragic trap of gay men like Heber, wanting to do the right thing, be good persons, making painful life choices with the best of intentions, and trapping others (usually spouses) in their misery… As the years pass, (this man’s) struggle between the church’s teachings, his marriage to a wonderful woman, and his love of their daughter tears at his soul, haunting every aspect of his life. Can (he) reconcile the outwardly righteous Mormon with the man inside, a man God made to love other men?”
— Alan E Rose, Award-winning Author, As If Death Summoned

The Choice of Men “…is a fire in the darkness that we need right now to illuminate homophobia…it celebrates Pride Month in an enlightening way…The ways [this young gay Mormon] tries to hide his ‘choice’ from his friends, family, and religion in an era surprisingly like our own make for an emotionally affecting story with a riveting ending.”
     — Cassie Premo Steele, Award-winning Ecofeminist Author of 16 novels and books of poetry

“Impossible to put down. The Choice of Men takes you on a journey through suffering and bliss, while keeping you on the edge of your seat and rooting for a happy ending for everyone … an engaging story of values and beliefs that can tear us apart or bring us all together.”
— Jay VanDenBogaard, Counselor

“Reading Samantha Waltz’s compelling new novel made me happy that I found this book as we celebrate Gay Pride Month. The book made me cry, made me love literature and poetry folks a bit more, made me deeply grateful for my own sense of inclusive family and community, made me appreciate the writer’s keen sense of place, made me hurt for most of the characters,  made me grateful for a good read that might pry open a few more minds and hearts on the polarizing questions of gay rights, gay being, gay marriage, gay blessing, gay life, gay love, gay existence. Thank you Samantha Waltz for writing The Choice of Men.”
— M Fleming, 33 year Secondary Literature and Languages Teacher

The Choice of Men takes us all on a deep emotional dive into the turbulent waters of the unaccepted man. Waltz slips us into the shoes of the ‘other’ and takes us on an eye-opening and authentic walk.”
— Ron J. Turker, The Wandering Jew of St. Salacious

The Choice of Men is such a timely book – a historical novel that about a man forced by society to live a life that denies the truth of who he is. He fights prejudice by trying to pass as something he is not. Painstakingly researched, this book gives intimate glimpses into Mormon traditions, family life of the 40’s and 50’s and what it is like to realize your church and community can’t accept who you are. It’s both heartbreaking and suspenseful to follow his journey, rooting for him to find self-acceptance and terrified at the same time about what may happen when his truth is revealed.”
— Jeanne Silaski, Writer

“I got the book and it is sooo good.  One of the best books I’ve read. Samantha Waltz is a fabulous writer.  With my bad eyesight, I can only read about an hour at a time but have been pushing it because once I start reading it is hard to put it down.”
— Carmen Webb, Reader

“Anyone who has an LGBTQ family member (and who doesn’t?) will find compassion, hope, and understanding in this book, a book that is believable, gripping, and has the power to change lives.”
— Tami Tack, review in the Columbia River Reader

“Finished The Choice of Men last night and want Samantha Waltz to know what a powerful and important book she has written. I haven’t read a book on this subject this authentic in, well, forever. My emotional reaction was too complex to articulate without a lot more processing. So much resonated so deeply with me. I would like the author to know how much I appreciate her taking on this project and what a beautiful job she did in capturing characters and struggles and telling those stories honestly.”
— Pat Emerson, Reader

“A thought-provoking and engaging novel! In this powerful work of fiction, we follow Heber, a young Mormon who desperately wants to comply with the guidance of his faith but feels an undeniable attraction to men. Returning to Utah from his missionary work in France, Heber finds a wonderful woman to marry and fathers a child, but life begins to slowly unravel. 

“This is a remarkable hero’s journey told deftly by Samantha Waltz. She illustrates the mores of society in mid-century America, and shows how difficult it was to be a gay man during those times (as it still is in many settings today.) Throughout the novel I cheered for Heber and the other characters as they discovered how to live, love, and to define what family means on their terms. A very worthy read.”
— Elizabeth King Gerlach, Just This Side of Normal, Autism Treatment Guide 

“This amazing historical novel deals with issues of homosexuality that are equally relevant today! I finished reading this excellent book at 3 a.m. last night. I couldn’t put it down! Samantha Waltz does an amazing job of helping us understand what it is like to live in society as a gay man. I fell in love with the characters, and could feel their happiness and their pain. I would recommend this book to everyone. Definitely a must-read for those who do not understand that homosexuality is not a choice!”
— Connie Kaseweter Pullen, Writer

“The Church haunts gay life, especially for an insider. What if you couldn’t step away from the church? And aren’t sure you’re gay? The Choice of Men lets you get inside the life of a gay Mormon in the ’40s and ’50s and see how twisted the whole ‘God’ thing can get. A classic tale of love that overcometh.”
— Ken Stokes, Tending the Garden Island

“… a thought-provoking and skillfully written novel … the characters are well developed and believable.  I could feel each one’s struggles.  The sex scenes were both vivid and tasteful, not an easy combination.  I learned a lot about Mormon beliefs and practices…having grown up in the time the book takes place, my memories of the times match the attitudes and the physical descriptions in the book.”
— Dee Whitney, Reader

“I think the irony of the title is front and centre because it’s not the choice of your sexuality that matters, but the choice of how you treat the people in your lives, including yourself that matters. Staying in the closet is most definitely a choice, just like coming out of the closet is a very important, hard choice to make. And choosing to get married to a woman when you know you are gay is a powerful choice for you and for her, as is the choice to be unfaithful to your wife… to seek comfort in anonymous sexual activity is most definitely an impactful choice…It’s not about choosing your sexuality, but about choosing your behaviors.”
— Chris Higgins, Writer, Vancouver BC

“I finished reading The Choice of Men quickly because it was excellent and very engrossing. I felt so caught up in the world of Heber, Ruth, Eric and Elizabeth and kept wanting to read on! The book is so well structured and paced and it was easy to imagine the world of the characters. The historical details are woven in very subtly. It’s a sad story but with a hopeful and uplifting ending… I love all the detail of Pasadena and LA at the time period…I know it is still a difficult world to be gay in.”
— Vivian Hassan-Lambert, Writer/Reader, London & LA

 “I just finished The Choice of Men—and I loved it! I was totally engrossed in the story, and really liked how the pain of Heber’s trying to be something he was not was shown. And his relief when he could be authentic. It really helped me understand my own parents’ marriage. My dad came out to my cousin, but never to me. I can see his struggle to fit into the traditional marriage role, his love of looking the part, and his deep fear of being found out. I understand his rage as being part of being stifled. I appreciate the author showing how damaging the Mormon Church can be—or any religion that forces hetero values. This is  a very important book — a book that needs an audience. It is important that readers really understand how damaging it is when people feel they must deny who they are.”
— Tamsel Tack, Reader

“I have tears running down my face as I finish this book… Amazing story and writing!  ,,, Totally moved my soul and spirit!”
— Kathy Gibbard, Reader

About the Author

Award winning author Samantha Waltz sold her first story at age eleven to a local newspaper. Her next stories appeared in American Girl, and she later worked as a guest editor and assistant editor for Mademoiselle.

She is the author of seventy anthologized personal essays and the editor of Blended: Writers on the Stepfamily Experience.

She has extensive editorial experience and has taught her Tell ‘Em and Sell ‘Em workshops to hundreds of writers, helping them craft excellent stories.

The Choice of Men is her first adult novel. She has been fascinated by the exploration of a theme about which she cares passionately.


“Samantha Waltz writes with scrupulous honesty and compassion, in a voice as pure and clear as a mountain lake.” Molly Gloss, acclaimed author of The Jump-Off Creek, The Hearts of Horses, and Unforeseen

Back Story

This book began with a series of frank, open conversations with my father about his life as a Mormon active in the church and as a closet gay. I wanted to understand the difficult and damaging dynamics of my family as I grew up. After many drafts and a great deal of help from two gay men, I’m hoping in this work of fiction to share my passionate belief that everyone loses when we mandate who a person should be rather than respecting who that person actually is. While this is an historical novel, it is, unfortunately, still relevant today, not just in the Mormon church but in far too many segments of society.


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