Title: One Shot
Author: Rowan McBride
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M Sci-fi Romance.
Length: 93 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Nick Carlyle understands the intricacies of his job better than anyone. He lives to crunch those numbers and his skills are valued throughout the company. If his personal life might be lacking, he doesn’t notice, especially whenever he steals a harmless glance or two at Riley Jameson’s tight body. But he’s the boss, and that means look but don’t touch.
When a universal flu shot is developed, it’s hailed as a miracle, and rightly so. But the seemingly harmless side effects begin to change the world, warping the statistics that Nick’s always used to guide him through life. Everything he thought he knew is suddenly upside down.
No one changes as much as Riley. Suddenly the young man is bigger, stronger. He’s also aggressive in ways Nick isn’t prepared for, and for the first time analyzing the numbers does nothing to help the situation.
Now, his numbers only add up when it comes to Riley.
I have to admit it was the cover which first caught my eye for this book. It’s rather striking, isn’t it? After reading the blurb and extract I decided that this sounded like a light, fun read. It was.
The book begins with a very self-assured Nick. He’s happy with his height and looks. He’s secure in his place in the company where he works leading a team of accountants and he’s frankly quite smug about his possibilities for promotion in the future. All this starts to change when a new flu injection comes onto the market. It has some curious side affects, one of which is that it makes a person experience a growth in height. Suddenly everyone at work is taller than Nick – even the women – and he start to lose some of that self assurance. Nick is obsessed with numbers and statistics and he knows that taller people are more likely to get promoted, so the chances of him getting on in the company is slipping. He’s also worried about the flu jab because a small percentage of people actually shrink rather than grow. Eventually, Nick finally bites the bullet and has the jab, only to find that he made the wrong choice.
Nick is the first person narrator in this novella and how you view this book will depend entirely on your feelings for Nick. He’s a seething mix of supreme confidence in his ability as an accountant and complete insecurity about his height and what he sees as his place in the company. Because he spends so much time agonising over this he is completely oblivious to his surroundings and his co-workers. You can either see this as quite cute and sweet or that he’s a idiot. I actually liked Nick. He wasn’t perfect and some of his characteristics – such as the height obsession and concern about his job – did get rather irritating at times. On the whole, though I liked that he worked hard at his job, that he was kind and supportive to his co-workers; that he just got on with his job regardless of any problems he was having. I also liked how, slowly, throughout the book he begins to unravel bit by bit until he is forced to face some of the things he has been unaware of, especially Riley’s attraction to him and the way that he is viewed by other people in the company.
The other major character in the book is Riley. He has an unusual reaction to the flu jab in that it makes him grow really tall and build up muscle. Nick is dismayed about this because it makes Riley seem huge and intimidating. Nick is attracted to Riley and yet also hates how Riley makes him clumsy and forgetful and lose the control he is so desperately clinging onto now that everyone else is taller than him. And yet Riley is also experiencing uncertainty. He is fairly new at his job and craves Nick’s approval, he’s also treated like some sideshow freak. This, coupled with his obvious attraction to Nick, made him a very sympathetic character.
Even though One Shot has a fair amount of angst in it – due to Nick’s excessive worrying – it’s not a heavy read. There’s lots of fun to be had with the inversion of height in Nick and Riley and how Nick’s lack of height actually works to his advantage. There’s also a lot of humour around Nick’s lack of understanding over how he is seen by other people. He has such a disinterest in his own looks – other than whether his clothes fit properly – that he doesn’t understand that he’s actually a very attractive man. This led to a number of humourous and embarrassing situations for Nick, along with several misunderstandings, which added to the light tone of the book and also went a long way to smoothing out some of the irritating things about Nick’s character.
One Shot is about the triumph of the ‘little guy’ and I liked the overt, and rather exaggerated, yaoi overtones which permeate the book. These yaoi conventions are also played with in an amusing fashion with the enormous Riley being a mix of physically dominant but emotionally insecure and the small Nick being physically puny but emotionally strong – the opposite of what you would expect.
Overall, I enjoyed this well written novella which I found rather difficult to put down. The only negative thing about the book was Nick’s annoying obsession with himself and his position in the company at the beginning of the book, which I can see may put some readers off the book at first, but that does settle down as the book gets going. Other than that this was an amusing read with interesting, sympathetic characters which played nicely with inverted conventions. I’d recommend this book to those who like yaoi or who are looking to read something light and engaging.