Title: Chicken Ranch: Hunger
Author: Amanda Young
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 110 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Disowned and cast out of his home, eighteen year old Declan Mayo turns to the only thing he can think of to help him get back on his feet. Working at the Chicken Ranch, a rural brothel that caters to women and gay men, seems like the perfect solution. He isn’t about to let a lack of sexual experience stop him from taking what he sees as a way off the streets.
Falling in love with one of his clients wasn’t in the game plan, but Declan can’t seem to help himself. Killian Hamilton is sweet and kind, with a stutter Declan can’t help but find adorable. Surely, if anyone could overlook Declan’s choice of employment, it would be a kindhearted man like Killian.
But Declan didn’t figure on Killian’s connection to one of the brothel’s regular clients, and now his love life’s about to blow up in his face.
I have a fondness (perversion?) for stories which contain prostitutes as heroes, so this story based in and around an all male brothel sounded intriguing. On the whole I liked the story with only one or two minor niggles to dim my enjoyment slightly.
Declan is down on his luck. He’s been thrown out of his home when his dad found out he was gay and all his dreams about going to college are now up in smoke. He can’t get a job as he’s living on the streets so he’s starving and desperate. When a hustler tells him about the Chicken Ranch, an all male brothel on the outskirts of town, Declan decides that he’d rather sell his body than starve. After a somewhat unconventional interview with the owner of Chicken Ranch which included lying through his teeth about the fact that he’s a virgin, Declan is taken on. His first customer who wants more than just a blow job is Killian, a shy accountant, who makes Declan’s first time special. A few weeks later Killian and Declan come across one another in a local supermarket and arrange a date.
One of the best things about this novella is the contrast between Declan and Killian. Declan is quite happy-go-lucky despite his cares and worries about his father. In some ways he suits his job as he’s good with people even if he does find the job demeaning at times. He’s happy to make the best of the situation he is in and pragmatic enough so that even when he’s earned enough money to perhaps move on, he keeps his job because it earns more money than the alternatives. In contrast Killian is very shy and speaks with a stutter. He’s not good at relationships and his only friend is a bit of an idiot who Killian is too nice to get rid of. Killian likes his job mainly because numbers are less confusing than people. When the pair come together therefore they are a perfect match with Killian’s shyness and lack of self-esteem counterbalanced by the more outgoing Declan. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside when they were together.
The other characters in the book were less well drawn, mostly because the length of the novella made it difficult to focus on anything other than Declan and Killian. However, I liked the descriptions of the other prostitutes working at Chicken Ranch and the conversations where they swap their reasons for working there were amusing and insightful without being overly harsh. In fact, although these men sell their bodies for money, the story contained an upbeat note which was perhaps not entirely realistic for brothel workers but worked with the optimistic theme of the book. The character of Killian’s obnoxious friend, Cash, was a tool only for the purposes of the story and as a result came across as very one dimensional.
As I mentioned there were a couple of little niggles. Firstly, Killian is completely accepting of Declan’s job which I felt was a little unrealistic. He doesn’t ask Declan to stop working as a prostitute, even when they are officially dating and having sex, when Declan’s job, no matter how safe he is, may impact on his own health. Secondly, there was a minor misunderstanding late on in the book which completely lacked originality. In fact I was hoping that the author was not going to wheel out that particular chestnut, but she did and I was disappointed as the rest of the story had a certain flair and originality which was, in my opinion, tarnished a bit by the use of this particular plot device.
Overall, Chicken Ranch: Hunger is a bright, breezy read that I enjoyed very much. You may find that you have to suspend your disbelief a little when reading it, but I didn’t mind that. Amanda Young writes interesting stories on the whole and this book is no exception. I’d recommend this book to fans of the author, those who like stories about prostitutes and anyone looking for a light, quick read.