Author: Fae Sutherland & Marguerite Labbe
Publisher: Amber Allure
Genre: contemporary gay romance
Length: Novella / 100 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5
A guest review by Kassa
Friends. Lovers. Realists. Up-and-coming rocker Ben Copeland and struggling actor John Calder have an unspoken understanding. Mutual pleasure, no strings attached, no demands made, not to mention chemistry so scorching it needs a warning label. For more than a year they’ve sexed their way from one coast to the other, and Ben’s beginning to think he might just have found the key to a perfect “relationship.”
Except now John’s gone and fallen in love. Ben’s career is finally skyrocketing and the last thing he wants or needs is the complication of too many dangerous emotions. John’s not one to take no for an answer, though, and when the “Scottish Don Juan” puts his mind to something, even a man like Ben had better look out.
This is a hot novella filled with aggressive masculine men who are stubborn to a fault. Although they are moody men, most especially Ben, this is light on the angst. The story tends to use stubborn anger as the most pervasive emotion over drawn out emotional turmoil. The focus on sex almost overwhelms the story to its detriment, but overall this is an enjoyable, easy read using some well known and loved themes. This will appeal most to fans of the authors as there is very little variation on the rock star theme found in numerous stories.
The premise is based on two celebrities, an actor and a rock star, that are friends with benefits. John and Ben met a year ago in a bar and have an easy no strings attached relationship. Both are in the entertainment industry and they enjoy the side benefits of their work (aka sleeping with fans) while seeing each other whenever possible. Their easy companionship slides to a halt when John wants more and Ben panics. However, neither is willing to completely let go so John takes a risky gamble on a happy ending.
The story is told in third person, alternating point of view with some significant pronoun confusion. There are a few editing errors but mostly the writing is rather clean. The characters are decent and three dimensional, yet the focus on the sexual relationship leaves the emotional connection and depth of personality wanting. The two men are easy together and engage in rough, mind-blowing sex often. Neither questions nor examines why the sex is so much better together versus with others but simply indulge in the rush. Other than one or two conversations, the reader is never shown their companionship – only the hot sex and sarcastic dialogue. Supposedly the men are friends beyond the sex but that’s debatable as there is very little context shown to establish that. There are hints, such as the phone calls, but very little in comparison to the sex scenes. The depth of emotion comes almost entirely from great sex and mutual satisfaction.
This makes for a fun and hot story to read but doesn’t develop the relationship or characters beyond their charm and stubborn superficial nature. Ben’s fear of commitment is not adequately explained, merely used to keep the tension high and the two apart until he can come to grips with his feelings for John. John’s surprise at his own willingness to commit is also not well explained as John spends the entire story trying to first tell Ben about his feelings and then to convince Ben to admit to the same. The carefree no strings aspect of his personality never really presents itself.
For all these flaws, the mostly clean writing and hot sex scenes carry off an enjoyable story. This is primarily due to the plethora of erotica because frankly these authors can write some scorching sex. The biting dialogue and banter between the two – again mostly during sex (see a theme yet?) – is enjoyable and entertaining as the big, bold personality of the physically smaller Ben comes out dynamically. The theme of reluctant celebrities is tried and true and these authors offer very little in the way of a fresh, innovative take but still deliver an engaging story.. Even if the emotional connection between the two men suffered in the face of so much sex, the dialogue and characters are fun with a fast pace and quick read. It’s not a story that I’d read again but Ben as a moody, mouthy dominating bottom is worth the price for this story.
As a side note this is one of those stories where a rating isn’t always accurate. Due to the problems and holes in the story, the rating is actually lower than the entertainment value would suggest. I think readers who are looking for an easy, forgettable but engaging story with rough sex are going to devour this book and not care about the problems. So I can easily suggest this particular story when you’re in the mood for something like this.