Title: Behaving Badly
Author: GA Hauser
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary romance, M/M/M/M menage
Length: 171 pages
Rating: 1.75 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Jenre
Loose cannons make life interesting—until they blow up in your face.
Action! Book 4
For once, things are going well for Mark Antonius Richfield. His career is fulfilling. The love of his life, Steve Miller, and best friends Jack and Adam round out his personal life to the fullest. What could possibly go wrong?
Enter eighteen-year-old Alexander Lehman. A member of “Generation seX”—with a voracious appetite for older men.
At first Mark doesn’t notice anything unusual, but Steve sees instantly that the young man could be Mark’s clone. The reason? Mark has an illegitimate son, as sensual, gorgeous, and mischievous as himself. With the same penchant for causing trouble.
As Mark takes a crash course in parenthood, the newcomer’s roving eye lands on Steve, who finds himself lusting after a younger version of the hot hunk he fell in love with.
All Mark can see in this complicated, age-before-beauty contest, he’s the one in danger of coming out the loser…
This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I didn’t know anything about GA Hauser or her books when I started reading. I’m sorry to say that this book failed for me on many levels which I shall now attempt to explain.
Mark and Steve are living in opulent splendour. They had a bad start when Steve absconded with Mark from the altar in a previous book, but are now putting all that behind them and getting on with the rest of their lives. Just as things settle down, Mark has a surprising visitor, eighteen year old Alex. Alex is Mark’s son, the product of a quickie between Mark and the dancer at a strip club nineteen years earlier. Alex is gay and has suffered quite a lot of verbal and physical abuse from his step-father as a result. Mark and Steve take him in, but Alex causes a rift when he comes onto Steve and behaves inappropriately towards Mark and Steve’s friends.
I first became suspicious that this book may not be quite to my taste when Alex arrives on the scene. He is full of teenage outrage that Mark abandoned his mother all those years ago – because she gave Mark her phone number and he never called her back. I suppose this was understandable but I fully expected Mark to point out that Alex’s mother was just as willing to have sex with him, nor did she attempt to find Mark once she realised she was pregnant. After all it’s hardly Mark’s fault that he knew nothing about the product of a quick shag in a dressing room. But no, Mark is filled with remorse, blames himself and takes Alex in to live with him and Steve. This seemed like a very odd thing to do. Neither man knows Alex and, although he looks the spitting image of Mark, don’t know for sure that he is telling the truth, yet they just invite him into their lives with no thought or planning.
Alex proceeds to disrupt their comfortable existence by coming on strongly to Steve right from the get go. How does Steve respond to this? He lusts after Alex, spends most of the time with a hard on and touches Alex constantly, cuddling him and stroking his hair. Both Steve and Mark talk to Alex about how inappropriate it is to blatantly come on to his father’s lover – which Alex does by stripping off in front of him, flirting outrageously and offering to sleep with him. Alex also listens in and even watches Mark and Steve having sex. Yet neither of the two older men modify their own behaviour to make it easier for Alex to get over his infatuation with Steve. Both men have loud, noisy sex at every opportunity, they fondle each other’s genitals in front of Alex and walk around naked in front of him. The whole thing made me feel a bit queasy. On the flip side Mark and Steve also treat Alex like an overgrown child. They let Alex sit on their knees for cuddles; they carry him upstairs and tuck him into bed; they constantly pet him like you would a small child. Every time this happened I was pulled out of the story because it was so unbelievable that they would treat a grown man this way.
Another problem I had with the book was that all the gay men in the book (which pretty well make up most of the numerous characters in this book) were the good guys and all but three straight characters were evil, homophobic, abusive people. This ‘them and us’ mentality made me really uncomfortable and did not give a true representation of life. Other than family, Mark and Steven only seem to know and socialise with other gay men, which was another oddity. The only nice straight characters were Alex’s mum and sister. In fact the scene where Alex goes home to collect his things was one of the better written, more touching scenes in the book. I felt that it was a shame that both Alex’s mother and sister effectively disappear after that point with only one short phone call later in the book to show that Alex remembered their existence.
Behaving Badly reminded me greatly of a daytime soap opera complete with wooden characters who behaved in a way that was over the top. The book consists almost entirely of dialogue and action tags which gave it a stagy feeling. There were some serious themes in the book: Parental abuse; the loss of youth; attempted suicide; but these themes were overshadowed by the fact that all the gay men (apart from Mark) lusted openly after Alex. Alex bathed in the glow of their appreciation and it is constantly reinforced that he acts like he does because he doesn’t know how to control himself around gay men. At one point Alex says…
“I agree. I want to be surrounded by my own kind. I’m sick of ridicule.”
…which again just reinforced the ‘them and us’ feeling I got from the book.
I suppose I can understand that Alex’s childhood and subsequent bullying by his step-father has left him feeling alone and unloved. The way he acted though was thoughtless and embarrassing yet the gay men encouraged him, lusted after him and made comments about how sexy he is in front of him all the time. After a while I began to wonder who was being the most inappropriate: a young, confused man or several men who were old enough to know better?
By far and away the best scenes were those involving Alex on his own away from the influence/attraction of the older men. During these scenes he came across as a quirky teen who has had the misfortune of being rejected by most of his family. Later in the book he gets together with a boy his own age and I found their attempts at privacy quite amusing.
Apart from that, there were a number of other areas that rang false about this book and I could go on and list them all but I won’t. You’ll have to take my word for it that there were at least four occasions where, if I hadn’t been reading this on my e-reader, the book would have hit the wall. Behaving Badly just didn’t work for me in so many ways that I can’t even begin to recommend it. I’m sure that the fans of GA Hauser’s books will read and enjoy this book but I’m sorry to say I didn’t.