David and Conner (Jock Dorm #3)

Title: David and Conner (Jock Dorm 3)
Author: Bobby Michaels
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Novel
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

THE BLURB

David, the oldest boy in his family and a priest, has always been considered special. What his family doesn’t know is that he’s also lonely…probably because he’s good at denying it, even to himself.

Then Conner, a good-looking, tough cop with a soft spot for David, shows up in his life. All of a sudden David is finding it hard to deny a lot of things, including just how much he wants Conner.

Jock Dorm Series

THE REVIEW

David and Conner is the third — and probably last — book in prolific author Bobby Michaels’ Jock Dorm series. I have been reviewing the three-book series in order. Book one, Dar and Gregg, is reviewed here, and book two, Drew and Vince, here. And while you could read David and Conner as a standalone, I would highly recommend you begin with book one.

Even though I included this in my reviews of the previous two books, I thought I’d repeat it for those who happen upon this review first. I am a big fan of Bobby Michaels from back in his Nifty days, reading just about everything he has published under the name RimPig there. If you haven’t already read something by him, there are a few things to note before diving into any of his stories, including this one. First, I find his writing to be honest, opinionated, heart-felt and more-often-than-not very sexually graphic. He makes no secret about where he stands on social and political issues, and many times his stories are commentaries on one or more subjects, such as prejudice, gay marriage, gays having/adopting children, gay coming of age/coming out, parental acceptance and support — or not — of homosexuality of their children, religion, politics, war, the Marines, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” There is also no doubt that these are guys who love guys, with prevalent kinks including fit, athletic bodies, raunchy man scents, and rimming sessions that go on for days (note that there are other, less conventional ones on Nifty that don’t appear in his commercially-published works). Additionally, there is a healthy dose of autobiography in his stories; he has many decades of both writing and loving (his love life is legendary) and his stories usually touch upon some aspect of his many experiences. He is not to every reader’s taste, but I think his stories are worth it.

David is a Roman Catholic priest who takes pride in his work with discarded veterans and the homeless — who are often one and the same — through the shelter at his church. Perfectly fine with his life as it stands, he is shocked to discover attraction to Conner, a homicide detective who comes to the shelter to question a witness to a murder. David has never questioned his sexuality because he is celibate, making it a non-issue, but as sparks fly with the hunky and incorrigible cop, soon David must make some decisions about not only the attraction he feels, but also how those decisions impact the rest of his life — most importantly the vocation he has chosen and loves so much. Is there a way for him to continue his life’s work and be with the man who he undeniably loves at the same time, or must he choose between them?

I will say a few things upfront. One is that even though I had a few issues with it, I liked this book a lot and it perhaps is my favorite of the three in the series.

The second is my guess is that readers will either love or hate this book, with not many in between. It is classic Bobby Michaels, which means it is full of all of the things he is known for — social/political/religious commentary; long, graphic smexxin scenes; debates and conversations between characters that do a lot of explaining; insta-love; insta-child; perhaps easy solutions to challenges thrown at the characters; protags who are not afraid to show emotion. In saying this, if you like stories by this author, chances are you will like this one as well.

Third, there is a possibility that some readers will be upset with the fact that David, the first-person narrator, is a Roman Catholic priest who begins a relationship with another man while still in the priesthood. I am not one of those people as (a) I am a recovering RC myself, and (b) I had an uncle who left the RC priesthood for the exact reasons David considers. I understand that the author and the publisher had some issues around Loose ID’s concerns about this aspect of the book and he had to go back and do some reworking of the story — if not a complete rewrite. I also know that the publication was delayed numerous times because of this.

This story is the longest of the three books, covers about three years and has quite a bit of dialog. As I mentioned in my review of Dar and Gregg, reading a Bobby Michaels story can, at times, be like reading a textbook and that carries over here. There is a lot discussion about religion, politics, psychology, family dynamics and wants/desires versus life callings, and because of the subject matter, this is an angstier, more serious book than the other two, which I happened to like. Additionally, I found the many conversations and debates about the differences between RC and Episcopal theology, doctrine, ideals interesting, though I suspect that it could be different for each reader.

I found David to be a complex, sensitive character who I liked a lot, a community-oriented, social action and service priest — the kind you do not often see portrayed — who has a crisis of vocation versus self-realization. The “virgin priest” who denied his sexuality because it was never an issue, he is faced with discovering love and attraction for the first time, and what that means for the vows he has taken with the church. I felt for him and the decisions he had to make, and felt the author did a good job taking us through that journey for him.

I thought Conner was a good match for David and I liked watching them together. A former Marine raised by his grandparents after his parents’ deaths, he never expected to love again after his former lover died in battle.  In fact, he was so hurt that he does not want to find love at all, choosing instead to hide behind one night stands and quick encounters in the dark corners of bars, which is sad.  I found it ironic that Conner, who has “no use for religion,” ends up with a priest. 🙂

Interestingly, the story opens two years before the end of Drew and Vince, which means that we get to see some of the events from that book via David’s eyes, such as Gina’s death and little Andy’s homecoming, and the very end of book two where David introduces Conner to Drew and Vince.

There are more secondary characters here than in previous installments, with standouts being Mary Catherine, David’s Episcopal priest friend; Henry, David’s parish’s pastor; David, the Episcopal bishop; and Conner’s grandparents. Many of the cast from the previous books make appearances as well.

A few things/issues:

I have to admit that for the first time, I did not like the way the author handled an issue: Mama Colucci. I felt that, even knowing her reaction to the changes in David’s life, the tactics used were, in my opinion, extreme and unfair. Her sons accuse her of life-long emotional blackmail, abuse, and manipulation, but I can’t help but feel that they heaped that right back at her with barely a chance for her to digest the news. Not that I feel that her reaction didn’t warrant heated discussion/argument and perhaps even walking away from her entirely, but the way it was executed made me feel, well, bad for her. I come from a large Italian family — not dissimilar to what is portrayed here, in fact — with an at-times overbearing, manipulative mother, and I would never dream of acting as the three boys and Debbie (Tony’s wife) did here. Luckily, it is a relatively small part of the book.

Without giving details as possible spoilers and although I didn’t have a problem with it — and as is common with other Bobby Michaels books — there is an element of easy solutions for challenges/problems/dilemmas for the characters, something with which other readers may take issue. Along with this, and once again, are several instances where the reader needs to suspend disbelief, such as the level of activities coughsmexxincough one would engage in after major surgery.

Note that David oftentimes does not act very “priestly,” and I felt that sometimes he seemed inconsistent in characterization of what we were shown in the previous story or even early in this one. He swears an awful lot. He cries more than any of the other characters in all three books combined.  For a “virgin priest,” he seems to have no issue jumping into bed with Conner and is an immediate pro at the smexxin, even perhaps the kinkier acts such as felching (sucking semen from the rectum) and snowballing (transferring a mouthful of semen to your partner’s mouth) — both of which are prevalent kinks in this book. While these things didn’t bother me too much, I suspect other readers may find them as negatives.

Oh, and a small, but bothersome editing error? There is a change of spelling from “Collucci” to “Colucci” between book two and three. I was surprised based on the general well-edited nature of the books that this wasn’t caught somewhere along the way.

OVERALL

If you are a fan of the author, of the series, or like a controversial, perhaps thought-provoking romance with a healthy dose of graphic smexxin’, David and Conner, the third installment of the Jock Dorm series, should be a winner for you.

11 comments

  • Evenin’ Sherry. I agree with you that throwing major challenges to the changes in David’s life would have made a somewhat angsty book even more so, but perhaps a middle ground would appease readers? But then it wouldn’t be a Bobby Michaels book. 🙂

  • Yes, you hit all of my “issues” exactly!!!!

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    David’s acceptance of his attraction to Conner, the decision to convert, the vanilla sex much less the kinkier stuff, and the vocalizing during sex……..all seemed to come pretty easily to him. Of course I wouldn’t want to read reams about the angst that would be involved but it was made to appear to be pretty angst-free.

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    And while I was happy to see that the family was going to rally around David and go on the offensive during the family meeting, it turned kind of ugly fast.

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    I greatly enjoyed the series and would hang out with any and all of the main characters! 🙂

  • I have been anxiously anticipating this book since I read the first two. Bobby has a very REAL way of writing, and nothing of his I have ever read has ever turned me off. Life is gritty, as is sex, and I believe that Bobby’s writing shows that. I have attended many different types of churches, and have always found the experiences annoying and frustrating, so I do not “practice” any type of religion. The subject matter, to me, is not offensive in the least, especially since the characters are PEOPLE. I think we take for granted that a Priest or Pastor or Minister are ONLY what the title implies….first and foremost, they are PEOPLE and people are not infallible, nor immune to love.

    • Hi Elaine. I think this book shows that religious personnel, for lack of a better term, are people first. Henry, the pastor at David’s church, has his own tale, and Mary Catherine could be any smart, friendly person you meet and could be friends with.

  • I’ve been following your reviews of this series, having read the first two some time ago but holding off on book three. It seems you’ve done a thorough analysis; I feel as if I have a good idea of what to expect going in so I will likely add this to my tbr pile.
    *
    I am a FARC (fallen away Roman Catholic) with many issues regarding the church, so I find I am interested in the discussions about it in this book. Is it weird that I’m thinking more about that than the kinky smexxin’?

    • I don’t think it’s weird at all, Wren. With these books, I tended to skim the smexxin parts after the first one and so the other aspects of the story became in focus to me. Though I — like Conner — have no use for religion and I am not in the market for one, I found many of the discussions fascinating.

  • I really liked this book and it was my favorite of the three books. David and Conner were very likable and I too found the discussion about religions very interesting. Around 0,2 % of people in Finland are catholic, so catholicism is not a very hot or sensitive topic here. Anyway, that thing with David’s mom actually surprised me. Maybe it’s me, but I didn’t see it coming and felt it was over the top. Also (this is probably not even worth mentioning), Tony’s (business)partner was Jeff in Drew & Vince but here he is Pete. Anyway, the good points way overweigh the not so good ones and I know I’m going to read this many times.

    • Sari
      Since Bobby suffered many health crises over the past several years including a couple of strokes and a heart attack (or maybe more than one), he could be forgiven I think for mixing up his characters. I would blame the editorial staff for such a glaring error since I’m sure they are aware of Bobby’s health issues. I believe strokes affect memory so I’m surprised this was the only noticeable error.

    • Hi Sari. Yeah, the thing with Mama kinda came out of left field considering how adapted she was to Vince and Drew, and even knowing her feelings about David’s vocation, it seemed harsh. I wonder if it’s because we’re female and we’re relating to her, but I think I would feel that way if it had been the father that was being attacked.
       
      The Jeff/Pete inconsistency I didn’t catch (and I’m usually good at that!), but the Collucci/Colucci one was glaring because I had written it several times in my review for JD2. And I, too, think the editors should have caught it; this has been a Loose ID series all along. Bobby has an excuse, as Wave said.

  • Lynn
    I have definitely put this book high on my TBR pile based on your review. I love this series but I’m aware that Bobby sometimes tries to manipulate his readers in terms of his social agenda. 🙂

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    As you mentioned in the review, it’s well known that this book took quite a while to write because of creative differences between Bobby and his publisher re David’s characterization. I think it might have been because Bobby wanted David to have sex with Conner while in the priesthood. Personally, as a lapsed Catholic, I see nothing wrong with two adults engaging in sex even if one of them were a priest, but that’s just me. 😀 Samhain had a very successful series of 3 books with protags who were priests written by Jamie Craig, Vivien Dean and Pepper Espinoza and one of the books went on to win an EPPIE last year.

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    Great review Lynn and I look forward to completing the circle with David and Conner.

    • Thanks Wave.
       

      Bobby sometimes tries to manipulate his readers in terms of his social agenda. 🙂

      Yes, this is true and something one needs to realize before picking up one of his stories, commercially-published or free. I happen to agree with most of what he has to say, though even I feel like I am getting hit over the head at times. 🙂

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