Thursday, April 7, 2011

Swiftly Dusted: Review of precious_boy by K.Z. Snow

Author:K.Z. Snow
Title: precious_boy
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Date: January 5, 2011
Length: 142 pages

Backblurb/Goodreads link | author's website | buy link

Genre & keywords:
M/M, Romance, Contemporary, age gap, prostitution, twink/young hero

Synopsis in short:
When Jon ‘accidentally’ watches an amateur porn video, and sees the lithe, blond young man who's doing naughty things with a bearish, older man, he's seduced...and feels like a pervert afterward… because Ethan, the youth in the video, seems a little too young, despite the fact he runs his own escort service. Worse yet, Jon gets the nagging feeling he's seen him before. When they meet in a Chicago hotel room, Jon’s past, present, and possibly his future begin to converge in alarming and confusing ways.

Setting: The protags ‘meet’ via internet and when they first meet in person it’s an escort type of date. This ‘porn and prostitution’ setting is what piqued my interest and made me want to read this story, but I guess it won’t be to everyone’s liking. Anyhow, it was an intriguing and well-executed theme which bypassed becoming stereotypical in my opinion.

POV: This story is told from Jon’s point of view, in first person. I did miss Ethan’s thoughts, for I had hoped to get a (better) explanation of how he ended up in the world of prostitution. But beyond that, I loved Jon’s narrator’s voice. It’s laid-back with sharp twitches of humor: “All the starch seeped out of my sense of decency. Suddenly I was nothing more than a twenty-eight-year-old man with a boner, and not even a call from the pope would’ve made me soft.”

H/H & characterization: Jon is a 28-year-old book reviewer with a pretty solid and settled life. Ethan is a 17-year-old twink, turning 18. His choice to work in the adult industry is the focus of this story, like how the heroes deal with Ethan’s choice is the focus of their relationship. But there’s more to these characters. Jon also has to come to terms with one of his former lovers and his own lacking interest in commitment. I appreciated that the choice of POV made Jon a three-dimensional character with his own inner conflicts. He could’ve easily become a stereotypical hero as the older and more mature ‘rescuer’. I missed a bit of that depth in Ethan’s characterization, but he stayed miles away from being a cardboard character, thanks to the excellent descriptions of his personality and behavior through Jon’s eyes. His characterization is also backed up by the presence of his family background, which gives him more layers and shows some of his development.

Empathy level: Due to the limited point of view it was much easier to empathize with Jon than it was with Ethan. Still, Ethan’s situation is a fairly easy one to imagine yourself in, although it stays a bit obscure how he got in that situation to begin with. At one point in the story I had some difficulty to understand Jon’s motives for doing what he did at that time, because it felt as if he was unfaithful somehow. But I can also see how this fits his character, his doubts and insecurities. And how nicely this and the following events show his growth, something Ethan helps him to achieve.

Heat level: The plot has plenty of sex and hot moments in it, but the first real sex scene between the protags takes place when we’re already three quarters into the book. Then we’re treated to a lyrically beautiful love scene which is tender and very sexy. Jon and Ethan’s chemistry is good, even without them having a lot of explicit sex scenes. 2 out of 3 flames

Angst level: This couple’s road to happiness is one with many bumps and holes in it, with quite some leaving and coming back. A very important issue, about how to live your life, is topic of discussion between the heroes. Yet, this wasn’t all too dramatic or heart squeezing. It was dealt with in a thorough and clever way without it becoming a tear jerker. I did sniff a bit at the end though. 0.5 out of 3 hankies

Overall entertainment level: I did not only enjoy Jon and Ethan’s slow but steady growing trust and developing relationship, which was all very well-paced. But I also found the secondary characters, like Jon’s mother and his best friend Vic, highly entertaining. Additionally, Jon’s retrospective view on his past, caused by his former lover Donald, in order to learn something about himself, was interesting. As a whole the plot is cleverly constructed. And the final revelation about Ethan’s screen name - ‘precious_boy’ - made it all come to a full circle in a moving and glorious way.

Final judgment:
Unlikely couple plays a game of push and pull which is well-written and cleverly constructed, and brings a highly satisfying and sweet happy ending.
4.5 out of 5 stars


  1. How do he even get to work, you have to be 18 so couldn't the feds bring them all down for selling it

  2. @Blodeuedd: Good question. When nobody knows about your real age or that you're working in that industry, it's easy to stay under the radar I guess. :)

  3. @Blodeuedd I believe it was more of a private site, he wasn't working for an established porn company, anyone can put up the disclaimer saying they are 18 and post porn on the internet on a website. So I think that was how they did it because most professional studios are quite cautious now I think after a few scandals.

    Your review was great Janna. You said exactly what I would. Very analytical, wish I could think that clearly about why I liked or disliked something. Great job.

  4. I can't read the review because I have the book, but haven't read it! :)

  5. @Tam: You're right, no porn company. It was more an X-tube kind of thing, I think (not that I know anything about that of course, it's all hear-say *g*).
    Ow thanks, Tam, you make me blush. I hope it isn't the boring kind of analytical though, lol.

    @Chris: Well, you better bookmark it then, missy, and come back reading the review when you've finished the book. ;)
    Btw it's spoiler free.

  6. Great review, Janna! I really like how organized you are about analyzing it in the various categories (characterization, angst level, sex scenes, etc.) Very nice! I don't think I've ever seen another reviewer besides you break out an "angst" category, but I appreciate it because I tend to roll my eyes at too much angst.

    I'm with you on the book. Very nice read, but I would have felt closer to Ethan if I'd had his viewpoint. I know what scene you're referring to with the "seemed like cheating" feeling, and I was actually ok with it though what you said did cross my mind. I saw it as Jon being totally confused and doing something he'd later kick himself for. :)

  7. Nice review... I was annoyed with this book.
    ***spoiler alert***
    The age difference didn't bother me, but the fact that Jon was with the father and then a day later was with the son really squicked me out. It troubled me and really didn't allow me to connect with the book. It also made me like Jon so much less.

    I enjoy KZ Snow's writing, but these characters I just didn't connect with.

  8. I really enjoyed this one although that "incident" did bother me a bit as well. Like Mariana said, the going from father to son squicked me. Otherwise a great story.

    Wonderful review, Janna! :)

  9. I love how well you articulate your thoughts in your reviews, thank you. I really need to try KZ Snow's books.

  10. @Val: Thanks, Val. I find myself often looking for remarks about the angst level of the story in reviews, because I'm not always in the mood for an angsty story. And other times I crave for it. ;) I figured there are probably more readers like me who want to know about it before starting to read a book...
    That scene turned out to be a controversial one among some readers, and I think it's rather brave of the author that she has written it. Personally I wasn't bothered by it, because in the end I thought it added to the complexity of the characterization and it made the two heroes more equal partners than when Jon would've been less imperfect. :)

    @Mariana: I see your point. :) For me this wasn't too big a problem, because I thought the author did a good job explaining where Jon came from, what his insecurities were. And that he needed this mistake to see his own faults. I also liked that Ethan seemed to see things clearer than Jon did before he made that mistake.
    I'm glad you enjoyed KZ's other books, Mariana. And hopefully you'll connect again with the characters of her next book. :)

    @Lily: Like I told Mariane the incident didn't squick me but I can see why it did you. :) I think this book/incident is a good example of how the moral argument (see my post from March 11) plays a different role for different people.
    Fortunately it didn't affect your overall enjoyment of the book too much. :)

    @orannia: Thank you for the compliment. *blush*
    I think you should give them a try indeed, I know I'll definitely be reading more of her books myself. :D


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