A guest review by Jenre
Ian and Cal have known each other since they were kids. When Cal offers to let Ian move in with him, Ian doesn’t even let the fact that Cal is gay factor in. It’s supposed to be a joke when Ian brings home a fish bowl with no fish, but when Cal buys fish and comes into Ian’s room to check on them, Ian starts seeing more of Cal than he’d counted on, and liking what he sees. There’s really only one logical way for Ian to sort out his feelings for Cal. Buy more fish.
Soon, he’s a regular hobbyist with an excuse to get Cal in his bedroom several times a day. He has no idea what to do once they’re there. Throw in Marcy- the adorable pet store geek who keeps him plied with bait- a bad chili dog, a game of strip Go Fish, and a raging case of food poisoning, and Ian’s about to lose his gay virginity the way only he could… ass backward.
I was attracted to this story because it sounded like quite a fun little read. After all the angsty books I’ve been reading recently, I fancied something light and this cute little Gay For You story involving two best friends whose fish buying habits bring them together was just the ticket.
Ian and Cal have been friends since childhood. Ian has recently moved in with Cal after his last flatmate got married and he couldn’t afford the rent on his own. Cal is gay and Ian is straight but obviously lives in bisexual denial as he covertly checks out Cal’s assets:
Cal was bent over his clothes hamper, one hip cocked, wearing nylon running shorts over black spandex leggings that went to mid-thigh. Probably chilly outside that morning. There were still sweat stains under the arms of his t-shirt, and it clung to his lower back in a way that really framed his ass.
Not that Ian had ever thought about framing Cal’s ass.
In order to make his new room seem less barren, Ian buys a fish bowl, then Cal gets some fish for it, then Ian buys more fish, then they need a bigger tank, all the while there’s lots of flirting and special looks as the tension grows between them. Unfortunately neither man is willing to break the deadlock for fear of ruining their friendship.
There was much to like about this book. The story is written from Ian’s third person point of view and he’s a very accessible narrator. I found myself laughing a number of times over his protestations that he isn’t gay and also his attempts to cover up any conversational slips where he may come across as being girly in any way:
“I like the water. When the sun shines through, it makes little rainbows on the wall…” Now he was the one making the what-the-f*ck face. He could not believe he’d just said that. He cleared his throat again, because, what the hell, that couldn’t possibly seem dodgier than the blush already burning up his cheeks. “And, um, I get chapped in the winter. Thought it would be like a humidifier.” Oh, yeah, good save. Dermal hydration issues were way manlier than little rainbows.
I also liked the easygoing relationship between Cal and Ian. It’s obvious that their friendship runs deep as they have a whole lot of shared history. Their conversations containing much light-hearted banter and casual insults were humourous and also very realistic. Even the growing sexual tension between them didn’t spoil their relationship as this was mostly ignored, like a large elephant in the room. As this is only a short story there wasn’t really room for many other characters but I really enjoyed the friendship that firstly Ian and then Cal develops with Marcy, the shop assistant at the pet store, who has a delightfully dry sense of humour.
The mark of a good comic story is in the laugh ratio which was high with this story. I found myself snorting with laughter on several occasions, especially at Ian’s many humourous observations and asides and the way that Ian finally decides to take control and attempts to seduce Cal over a game of strip go-fish. This humour contrasted nicely with Ian’s increasing frustration leading up to a delightfully satisfying conclusion when the men finally decide to acknowledge their feelings for one another.
The story wasn’t without fault. I sometimes found it a little difficult to picture the positioning of the characters especially when they were together. I was also getting a tad impatient with Cal and Ian as they continued to pussy-foot round each other and felt that this bit was perhaps drawn out too much. However, don’t let these little niggles put you off what was basically a smart, funny friends to lovers story which I would recommend to anyone looking for something to put a smile on your face and warm your heart.