Title: Sindustry Volume 2
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 332 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Jenre
Rentboys, strippers, hookers, and porn stars—these men are making a buck the hard way. This is Sindustry, where a quick fuck is more likely than a romantic kiss. But while they face the harsh light of reality every day, unexpected love finds them in all sorts of crazy ways. Take a look at Sindustry from the outside in, because for these guys, happily ever after is just around the corner.
I have to admit I had mixed feelings about reading this anthology. On one hand I’d enjoyed Sindustry Volume 1 so much I was looking forward to another set of stories about those who live and work in the seamier side of the gay lifestyle. On the other hand I was practically convinced that these stories were probably the ones which didn’t ‘cut the mustard’ enough for the first anthology and would therefore be of lower quality than the first. I’m happy to say that although, unlike the first anthology, there were a few stories which I didn’t connect with, the quality of the stories was still consistently high – and some which surpassed those in Sindustry Volume 1.
My three favourite stories from the anthology were mostly from authors who were new to me.
Wanting More by Cari Z begins with a cringe-making scene where our hero Alex, a lap dancer and prostitute, is taken home by a ‘client’ whose lover returns early from a business trip and walks in on them. Alex is numbed by embarrassment but is treated kindly by the wronged man, James. A few days later James turns up at the lap dancing club and requests a private lap dance with Alex. Alex is deeply attracted to James who begins to take Alex home for sex. Alex then finds it harder and harder to takes James’ money but can’t see a way of letting James know of his feelings.
The main thing that attracted me to this book was the sexual tension between the two men. The entire story was heavy with it and the scenes where James and Alex come together incendiary. It was so obvious that they were right for each other. The relationship develops over weeks so the growth in love and affection was very realistic and I was cheering these men on all the way.
The Meaning of Perfection by Taylor Lochland told the story of prostitute Felix who, along with his friend Jack, strike a deal with a local hotel owner that they can use a couple of his rooms for their business at a low cost. Part of the deal is that the owner, Julian, gets to have a regular appointment with Jack at a discount rate. Felix and Julian hit it off straight away with a common interest in Greek mythology and it isn’t long before they become friends and, on Felix’s side, affection and love begins to grow. Felix wants there to be more, but Julian has always rejected his offers until Jack steps in to lend a hand.
Once you get over the unlikeliness of the premise – would there really be a hotel owner willing to offer out rooms to prostitutes? – then this story was quite lovely. Julian was a very shy man who preferred his books to real human interaction. The way that the two men form a friendship first was a delight to read and I was highly satisfied when the men finally came together. The character of Jack was also well drawn and he had a great down-to-Earth attitude which counterbalanced Felix’s idealism. A great all round story which brought a smile to my face.
Exposure by Marguerite Labbe and Fae Sutherland was another story crammed full of exciting sexual tension. Sebastian is a photographer for a gay porn magazine. He is instantly attracted to one of the models, Angel, and asks himto return for another job shooting photos for a BDSM catalogue. Angel isn’t so sure he likes the idea of being restrained for photos but throughout his time with Sebastian, Angel begins to realise that he may have submissive tendencies which Sebastian is happy to indulge.
The story is very similar to that of A Strong Hand by Catt Ford (reviewed by Kris, here) but in Exposure the character of Angel is strong and unwilling to fully embrace the submissive lifestyle. I liked that Sebastian liked this in Angel and that there was a sense of give and take in the relationship which can sometimes be missing in D/s stories. The way that the authors added layer upon layer of tension between the two men in both the photo sessions was compelling and I read the story through quickly, eager to discover how their relationship would develop. The story ends as the two men move tentatively into a D/s relationship which is to be continued in a story coming up in another anthology later in the year.
Honourable mentions need to go to Sunshine by JL Merrow and See Me, Feel Me by Zahra Owens, both of who had a character with a disability, and to Unorthodox Utopia by GS Wiley whose story of a hairdresser and an Internet porn star dealt with the serious issue of partner abuse. It was heartening to see stories such as these, which address difficult situations, included in this anthology.
Sindustry Volume 2 was another great set of stories with a wide variety of themes and characters. I’d recommend this to anyone who liked Sindustry Volume 1, but also to those who want to read good quality writing.
That’s my part of this review over. I’m now going to hand over to Wave who wanted to add her feelings about one of the stories in this anthology: Night Moves by Patric Michael.
Night Moves 4.5 stars out of 5
A cocky, self assured hustler discovers much more in life than just turning tricks when he goes on a date – a real date – with the shy, soft-spoken driver of the black pickup that’s often cruised by his corner but never stopped. Until tonight.
Jesse was standing on his regular spot waiting for the johns or dates to proposition him. As he watched them cruising his corner he made sure that he projected the right image, with his “package” out in front and every other important body part well positioned; after all, he was meat in a buyer’s market. He had to keep reminding himself that in his business he was a product, and each car and driver was “potential.” Three hours later he noticed the same black pickup truck he had seen several times over the past month driving slowly by but never stopping. Disappointed that the truck didn’t stop this time either Jesse quit for the night, but on his way home there was a surprise waiting for him, the driver of the pickup truck.
Turns out that Rafe, the driver, was shy, an introvert who had never picked up a prostitute before and he had been building up his courage for weeks to approach Jesse. To Jesse’s surprise Rafe just wanted to spend time with him not purchase his services, and they end up at a local club. As they get to know each other Jesse realized that Rafe was genuine and he’s thanking his lucky stars at meeting such a wonderful man who could be the answer to his hopes and dreams, for a night or even maybe a week; when his past, in the person of his former Master, rears up and bites him in the ass. It seems like the end for Jesse and Rafe, and Jesse’s hopes for something better, if only for a very short time.
I loved this story because of its terrific prose and great characterizations and the wonderful “visual” of Jesse trying to market himself in his seamy world while making a buck, at the same time keeping an eye out for the cops and “dates” who had a different agenda. Despite the fact that he had had sex for money with countless men he remained unspoiled by his environment and it was clear that this was not the life he chose. Rafe was unbelievably sweet, in many ways Jesse’s foil in terms of his life, and he made Jesse feel like a whole person whose life counted. When they eventually had sex it was incredible and erotic as they went into sensory overload. Rafe made love to Jesse and used all of his skill, and then some, to prove that he had a few tricks of his own, and Jesse showed Rafe that he was not just another trick.
This is another wonderful story by Patric Michael who is fast becoming a favourite and an auto buy.