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