Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Selling It

Selling It
Selling It by Sara York

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was more of a 1.5 stars; rounded up for the sheer ridiculousness of it.

Police detective Blaine has only recently transferred to DC, and he’s glad that no one here knows about his homosexuality, or his past as a prostitute. On top of that, he has to deal with a serious case of loneliness, which he attempts to drown with frequent anonymous fucks at a gay club, and his meddling female partner, who thinks him morose and keeps trying to remedy that by setting him up with her friends.
Once Blaine realizes his attacker of so long ago ago might actually be the very perp he’s looking for here and now, he realizes he can’t very well keep hiding much longer – which causes an understandable conflict of interests in him. This is why Blaine, at first, buries his head in the sand and says nothing. But then two things happen that force him to reveal his secrets. Nate, a young prostitute Blaine formed a connection with, is attacked and barely makes it out alive, and Blaine meets Andy, a dancer and actor, a man he deems worthy to come out of the closet for.
Once he’s made his decision, Blaine pulls it through, and soon things look golden. He and Andy practically live together with the blessings of Andy’s protective friends, and the murder case starts moving. But then a series of strange coincidences puts Andy’s friends on the killer’s hit list, and suddenly it’s Andy’s life that is at stakes, and Blaine is Andy’s only hope for survival.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Perhaps a bit far fetched, but who cares, it’s fiction after all, isn’t it? And the mystery wasn’t all that bad, actually, even though it required some suspension of disbelief, especially with the series of hunches and coincidences that had Blaine show up just in time to save his lover’s life.
The taut writing style didn’t appeal to me overly much, but that’s mostly a matter of taste. The same may apply to the multiple POV’s; aside from Blaine and Andy, several other character have their say, including Nate, and Blaine’s partner Lucy, and even the killer, who was a bigoted, megalomaniac nutcase who behaved so erratic I couldn’t help wondering how he remained undetected as long as he supposedly did. Some parts were really well wrought out, particularly the harrowing misery of living on the streets and the day-to-day ordeal of turning tricks for a living. I also found it remarkable that the rent boys were always referred to as prostitutes, never some more derogatory term.

But, the romance – omigod...
Andy’s and Blaine’s first meeting in Blaine’s favorite hookup joint (their second meeting, actually, since Andy had already caught a glimpse at Blaine driving by him on the street) had me scratching my head due to the instant connection they formed. It wasn’t the insta-lust that puzzled me, given the location – two attractive strangers in a gay bar, serious flirtation, what’s to expect? Certainly not what actually happened, which would be commitment-shy Blaine talking about their future relationship by the second sentence they exchanged, and adventurous Andy virtuously calling it an early night because of his early start the next day. Each went home into his own bed. Then again, perhaps they were just being mature adults, they’re both over thirty after all, I thought.
However, it went on in the same vein. Andy almost weeped into his pillow from longing for Blaine the same night. Meeting on the street on the next day by chance, Blaine kissed Andy in front of his partner Lucy, effectively blasting the doors of his closet wide open (after having talked to Andy once for less than half an hour, mind!). But the real kicker came once they FINALLY had a closed door between them and the world for the first time (three days after said first meeting). Now you want to picture two sexy and horny and insta-enamored guys, hot kisses, condom on, lube applied where it’s supposed to go, and then the following scene happens:

..."Blaine grabbed Andy and turned him around, then pulled him into a crushing kiss. They were panting in seconds; sweat beaded on Blaine’s chest and the lube from the condom was cold against his belly. Andy was driving him crazy, but he wouldn’t mess up this relationship with a quick fuck.
He pushed Andy away. “No. I’m not doing this right now. I want you in my life for a long time. I want to get to know you.” What the hell was he doing? He could be inside this wonderful man right now. His entire body hurt with desire.
Andy’s face grew serious. “I want us to last, too.”
“We can’t do this right now.”....

Sweet and considerate, aren’t they? Epitomes of reason. I couldn’t take anything serious that went on between them after that. It didn’t help that, once they’d established that it was twu wuv for both of them (they all but started picking china patterns shortly after the scene above, after all), Blaine kept agonizing over how Andy was too good for him, how cop’s relationships never lasted, how Andy was surely to be disgusted with Blaine’s past, his scars, his work (all this after Andy had reassured him to the contrary).
And the ending was just over the top, from Blaine’s riding in to Andy’s rescue, literally guns blazing, to the “he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not” going on during their hospital reunion scene. It almost didn’t matter that things smoothly fell into place for both of them, professionally as well as privately, and Blaine’s past trauma was miraculously healed by Andy’s unerring love, and that Nate just dropped from the story somehow after playing such a crucial role for the most part.

This book would’ve made a halfway decent mystery without the romance part, and a real nice parody on the m/m romance genre without the serious and sensibly written parts about teenage prostitution. As it was, it went both ways and arrived nowhere, unfortunately.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review: Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel
Fallen Angel by Eden Winters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One thing in advance: this is not a light and easy read. Not unexpectedly so for those who are familiar with this book's prequel, [b:The Angel of 13th Street|8125589|The Angel of 13th Street |Eden Winters||12921252], but rather unlike many other books from Eden Winters. With this book, the author shows herself from a more serious, pensive side.

This is very much Noah's story; one could justifiably call it his backstory, since there are many flashbacks to his rentboy years and to his hangups on Billy, his former boyfriend and fellow rentboy.
Although we also get Jeremy's voice, and although there are quite a few erotic scenes (and I loved to see Jeremy as Noah's mature, self-conscious lover in those), Noah's problems were there front and center.
Outside the bedroom, Jeremy and Noah had less page space together than Noah's inner musings took, and they walked parallel for a big part of the book rather than together, each caught up in his own problems. Their relationship is established, though somewhat under duress lately, mainly with Jeremy's upcoming departure for college, but also with the changes that Doc, Noah's mentor, puts on the streetworker organization for which Noah has been working during the last ten years.
But that's just the surface. The real problem is, for one, that Noah hasn't quite arrived in his still-new relationship. He's still full of guilt and remorse about Billy, so much so that he wakes from sleeping screaming his former lover's name (much to Jeremy's chagrin) Unconsciously Noah is still thinking of Jeremy as his "ward", someone he has to protect and keep safe at all cost, even though he knows that Jeremy is all grown-up by now, even though he acknowledges Jeremy as his equal partner. As a result, Noah keeps things to himself, even keeps things FROM Jeremy, and tries to work out everything by his lonesome like he was used to doing before he had a partner. Which, of course, puts some strain on their relationship. This goes beyond typical male incommunicado, it's a problem Noah doesn't even realize he has and, once he does, has to work at very hard to overcome.
For another, Noah is seriously burnt out. But with his abovementioned communication issues, Noah won't even admit his state of emotional exhaustion to himself, much less ask for help from his nearest and dearest. His friend have to drag him out of the swamp of his self-destruction by his hair, which doesn't go without some kicking and screaming on Noah's side.

This is a character-driven book. Following Noah's slow struggle out of the chains of his past is not always pleasant, even exhausting at times, and yes, as other reviewers have stated, the ending has its melodramatic moments, and there's a loose thread which bothered me as much as it did Simsala. But I was once again taken by the honesty of this tale, by the sincerity that shines through the pages.
Not for every mood or every day, but definitely recommended

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