A guest review by Jenre
This well written tale of infidelity and coming out of the closet tells of Shy Mark who develops a crush on his confident landlord, Aaron, which quickly turns into more, leading to Aaron having to make some difficult decisions about his girlfriend.
Mark Matheson is a rather timid and somewhat introverted college graduate who’s in need of a place to live. He’s just landed his first post-collegiate job and can no longer stay in the dorms.
Coincidentally, real estate agent Aaron Culver is looking for a tenant to rent an apartment in the building that he owns and happens to live in himself.
The price is right, well within Mark’s budget. The location is perfect. The apartment is suitable to accommodate Mark’s needs. The only problem though, is that Mark happens to have a serious crush on his would-be landlord.
Is there any way he can overcome or even conceal his secret fantasies about the successful, confident and very attractive man-of his dreams? Does he even really want to conceal them, and what would Aaron do if he were to discover Mark’s secret? When the two do in fact actually become landlord and tenant, they quickly discover there is more than one way to collect the rent.
Mark is a college student in his final year. He’s also on the books of a cleaning business to make some extra money. He’s a shy bloke who doesn’t have many friends and is rather lacking in self-esteem, but is still cheerful and friendly. When he’s sent on a cleaning job for Aaron who run a successful business, despite only being a few years older than Mark, Mark is overawed at the confident Aaron and forms a crush on him. When circumstances bring the two together, this time with Aaron as Mark’s landlord, the two begin a relationship which surprises them both and leads to Aaron having to decide whether he’s going to take a chance on Mark, or stick with his girlfriend of several years.
This book is surprising in a way, because although it’s written from Mark’s first person point of view, most of the story is about Aaron and the choices he has to make. Mark, is more of an onlooker to all that is happening in Aaron’s life, the catalyst for the decisions Aaron has to make, therefore it was unusual to see the book from that point of view. Having said that, we still get a great deal of insight into what s happening in Mark’s life. He’s a bit of a shy loner, who is only just coming to terms with the fact that he is gay. His sudden crush on Aaron surprises him, as does the feeling of inferiority he gets around Aaron. Those of you who have read Puppy Love by the author will see strong similarities between Petey, the hero of Puppy Love, and Mark. Both are young, inexperienced, with strong submissive feelings of low self-worth. Mark is a sympathetic narrator who falls quickly in love with Aaron and then has to be patient whilst Aaron sorts out his life. On occasion Mark is rather naive in the way he views their relationship and towards the end behaves in a slightly irrational manner with annoyed me a little. I don’t particularly like the plot line of a character who behaves in a way they consider self-sacrificing and acts on impulse rather than talking things over with the other hero, so I found myself groaning a little over Mark’s behaviour at the end of the book.
The theme which is a deal breaker in this book is that of infidelity. I know that many readers cannot bear to read any books with an unfaithful hero and if you are one such reader then this book is not for you. If it’s done well, as it was in this book, I don’t mind an unfaithful hero. In the case of Aaron, he has been seeing his girlfriend since high school, and although he loves her, he doesn’t feel that spark of passion with her. Aaron had a male friend he used to occasionally mess about with, but it isn’t until he and Mark get together, that Aaron realises that his love for his girlfriend is really just akin to friendship, and the love he is starting to feel for Mark is more powerful. Aaron spends the majority of the book coming to the realisation that Mark is the one he wants and that he has to break things off with his girlfriend. As the infidelity is at the heart of the story, I was able to sympathise a little with Aaron, understand his confusion, especially as deep down he is a good and sensible man, who doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but knows his actions will cause hurt whatever he chooses. Despite his flaws, I liked and admired Aaron for not taking the easy route. One word of warning: Before Aaron has decided to split up with his girlfriend, but whilst he has started a relationship with Mark, Aaron has sex with her. During this scene, Mark is listening from his upstairs flat. I have to admit, I found this scene uncomfortable to read, not because of the suggestion of m/f sex – which may put some readers off – but because of the blatant infidelity.
Another theme which is dabbled with in the story is that of dominance and submission. Mark is a natural submissive who would happily serve Aaron in any way he wants. Although Aaron is a dominant man, I liked that he saw the value to treating Mark with love and respect, leading to some very tender sex scenes between the pair. I also liked that the two men were just feeling out their roles with each other, having a go as it were, and trying out what worked and what didn’t work for them as a couple. It made a change from those stories where the Dom is experienced and knows exactly how he wants his sub to behave. Instead this gave the relationship a realistic feel, and was perhaps more romantic because of that.
Overall, despite a few niggles, I liked this book of two men who find each other and come out of the closet together. There was a nice balance of drama, humour and sex, alongside a subject matter that was sometimes difficult to swallow, but showed bravery on the part of the author. I liked that the characters didn’t always take the easy route, that they had their flaws, and yet underneath they were decent men trying to make the best out of unexpected, difficult and yet also wonderful change in their lives. I would recommend The Landlord to those who don’t mind an infidelity plot and who are looking for a well written, romantic story.