Title: Charlie, Rentboy (Working Boys #1)
Author: J.P. Barnaby
Cover Artist: Angsty G (Photographer, RJ Sebastian)
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5+ stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A love story that goes against all form and convention and shamelessly revels in its clever delivery.
Blurb: Got two hundred and fifty dollars for an hour of fun? Then say hello to Charlie, a hot little rentboy working his way through an engineering degree on his back. He’s got shaggy blond hair that’s great to hang on to while you fuck him from behind, and sweet innocent blue eyes that look very enticing when he gazes up at you with your cock in his mouth. That is, until he’s hired by innocent rich boy John Middleton, head of Middleton Communication. John is so far in the closet he could find Narnia. But when John and Charlie get together for an explosive weekend of sex, everything goes to hell.
Review: There are, on rare occasions, certain novels that slap you in the face–wake you up to the very real people that live in the shadows of our less than savory world. They are the young men and women we pass on those certain street corners, the ones we like to pity and denounce as “common” or worse, “used and cheap”. Charlie has never been cheap…nor does Charlie allow himself to be used. Instead he keeps himself, his heart, his mind, his very soul wrapped tight behind layers of disdain and sarcasm. He performs a service and he, by his own admission, is damn good at what he does. But it is always Charlie who runs the show, who chooses the client, who acts the part. Until he meets his latest “John” and for the first time, Charlie’s heart wants–no, needs to come out and learn if love is really all it’s cracked up to be.
John Middleton is perhaps the loneliest man on the planet. He has wealth untold, runs a company his deceased father loved, and has not one friend whom he can trust to like him for who he is rather than what his money can do for them. All he really wants is to attend art school and maybe, just maybe, have a boyfriend. Unfortunately, he is relegated to “hiring” his dream man and so John meets Charlie…and life changes irrevocably for both of them.
There is nothing sugarcoated about Charlie, Rentboy. If you are thinking that author J.P. Barnaby is going to give you hearts and flowers, think again. Instead she is going to give you a real glimpse into the lives of two men who are polar opposites yet actually suffer the same tragic feelings of loneliness. However, while John rushes to embrace love, Charlie (aka, David) locks it out and refuses to even consider the possibility. How this author manages to turn the tables on Charlie and thrust him into a life he never wanted is sheer genus.
For once the boy who was always in control scrambles to gather up the fragments of his shattered life and regain solid ground. But John has turned the tables on Charlie and then does something that leaves Charlie breathless–John offers to walk away. He offers to give Charlie back his life, with little or no strings attached, a huge sum of money and the written promise that Charlie can end the deal within a set time. John gives Charlie the choice he’d never been offered before…to risk falling in love. For the first time, Charlie is not just a rentboy, he is someone whom another man has fallen in love with, who wants him, despite his past.
I loved that the author refused to tie this relationship up neatly. I delighted in the fact that to the end, Charlie kept his hand close, refusing to call it love, but realizing for the first time that he respected another man enough to miss him, to want to be with him, to give the idea of love a chance. My heart was lost to both John and Charlie. There was such sadness inside John–it was almost painful to read yet so lovingly written that you could not help but fall in love with him. And Charlie…oh my. He is brash and snarky, yet has such a tender soul hidden deep within the armor he wears around his heart.
I wanted this story to go on and on. I wanted to see them six months down the road, see them fully and completely invested in one another, see them in love. But author J.P. Barnaby merely dangles the possibility of that kind of future before us and then wisely puts the story to bed, leaving us with the choice to speculate on where the road would lead these two lovely men she so painstakingly created for us.
I highly recommend Charlie, Rentboy by J.P. Barnaby to you. I believe this edgy, fast-paced novella will leave you wanting more and, really, could you ask for anything more?