Different Strokes

Title:  Different Strokes
Author: Stone Richards
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, interracial
Length: short story  (80 PDF pages)
Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Summary Review: A romantic reunion between two dimensional characters, together with clichéd prose and dialogue produce predictable results. A fair effort but needed some work.


Mike Robinson is a successful structural engineer. Donis Shepherd owns a fitness gym. In high school they fought their attraction for each other, then, in a weak moment, they acted on their emotions–and were discovered in a compromising position. Confused and embarrassed, Mike left town–only to return now hired to build the city a new expansion bridge. He’s never forgotten Donis. Has Donis forgotten him? Can they renew those once passionate feelings? Or has too many years passed and passion waned?


Mike had always been shy and could not understand why he was not attracted to girls, choosing to go out by himself or hanging out with a few male friends, until Donis came to town when he was 18 and changed his world. They had the same tastes and were inseparable until that fateful day when his father found them naked in his bedroom, just about to have sex. Mike left Stockton almost immediately for college and neither he nor Donis set eyes on each other in the time he was away, even though Donis still lived in the town where they went to school.

Now Mike was back, the owner of a construction company that had won the bid to build a bridge in his hometown, a job that would take at least 2 years to complete. Of course it was inevitable that he and Donis would meet, and as he couldn’t get him out of his thoughts Mike figured that he might as well get it over with so that he could get on with his life. When he found out that Donis owned the local gym he stopped by to renew his acquaintance, and of course everything from then on was predictable.

This could have been a much better book, in my opinion, if there were more conflict or complexity to make the lovers’ characters interesting. At best I would say that they were two dimensional. When they met Donis wasn’t even angry at Mike for disappearing for 10 years before showing up again, which was unusual considering that he had spent so much time trying to find out from Mike’s parents where he was, without success. It was too unbelievable that Donis would just jump into the sack with Mike as soon as he returned, with no recriminations for dumping him and not trying to find him, which would have been easy, considering  he never left town.

What I didn’t like

Mike internalized the incident in his bedroom over the years and relived it all the time during the 10 years he was away from Donis, to the point where it became tiresome and repetitive.

The first time Donis and Mike had sex it was “insta love” and they started talking immediately about moving in together the very next day, which seemed a bit hasty.

The prose was at times clichéd with all the talk about “soul mates” and “do you believe in fate?” I wondered if I had wandered into a Harlequin Romance by mistake.

The two characters were too likable, and seemed to have no flaws to show that they were just as human as anyone else, warts and all.

What I liked

Mike’s commitment to his profession and his construction team. The author obviously had done a bit of research into the industry so there was enough content to interest me.

I liked the detail about the project, which added some credibility to the plot.

The protagonists were not a total loss, in fact, with a bit more work on the part of the author they could have been fully three dimensional.

I had other issues with this story but they were not material.

Stone Richards writes well and if he or she can create complex characters and plots I would definitely be interested in reading more books by this author.

Different Strokes would be of interest to fans of the author.


I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball


  • Simsala
    The only thing that saved this book for me was the detail about the construction project and his team. The rest of it was a wash.

    When I re-read parts of this story late last night I changed my rating to 2 stars because it was even worse than I remembered but the system didn’t update it until this morning.

  • Hi Wave,
    seems like you reviewed one of Stone Richards`better books !
    I read “Lovers” by him/her – a sure-fire 1star rating. 🙂
    Thanks for the review


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