Author: L.B. Gregg
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 20,000 words
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
A pair of College students find themselves lost in the woods in this fast paced, spooky Halloween tale.
College sophomore Alexander Strauss has one rule: no messing around with straight guys. Especially not his mouthwatering roommate, Shannon. When their ride share drives off the side of a mountain, the two young men find themselves deep in an uninhabited forest searching for their missing friend. Wandering the famously cursed grounds of Dudleytown, Alex figures something truly unholy must be at play, because only insanity could tempt him to break his cardinal rule.
Alex is on his way home from college for the weekend and sharing a ride with his friend Ricky and roommate Shannon. Taking a short cut turns out to be not the best idea when the jeep careens off the road, leaving only Ricky injured. Before they can find help, Ricky disappears and Shannon and Alex are left combing the forest in the dark for him, unaware that danger is lurking round the corner.
I’m a big fan of L.B. Gregg’s writing, especially the witty dialogue and the breakneck pacing of her books. This book didn’t disappoint in that regard. The story is narrated from the first person point of view of Alex, whose dry sense of humour permeates the story. He’s been in love with his roommate, Shannon, for weeks, but has had bad experiences with straight men before, as he says in a heartbreakingly matter of fact way:
I’d had sex with plenty of guys I didn’t like—and I always regretted it. Always. Because, too late, I learned that those dudes thought it was a good time to knock me around after I jacked them off.
It was background information like this, plus the way his thoughts often belied his actions which endeared me to Alex. For example, his thoughts run a mile a minute as he imagines horrors in the woods, and amusingly recalls all the dreadful horror flicks he’s ever seen; but when action is called for he has a cool, sensible head on his shoulders. As with all first person narratives, it was harder to understand Shannon, as we only see him through Alex’s eyes. Despite this he was still a likeable character with the familiar take charge attitude of many LB Gregg heroes but this time without the arrogance. The couple worked well together, and if I found myself amused that they could get down and dirty in the forest with danger on the horizon, then I just put it down to the hormones of young men!
The story itself moves on at a fair rate and was a good mix of the romantic plot and Halloween scares. Those of you who are faint of heart may find some parts a touch gruesome, but I thought the gore fit well with the horror movie-like themes of the book. It certainly helped that there were light moments to the story, with a number of humourous asides and information, such as how Shannon and Alex came to be roommates, to lift the story from being too heavy. In the end I felt the balance between scares, tension, romance, lust and humour was just right, making this a perfect read for Halloween lovers.
I had two small niggles about the story. Firstly, was the way in which the complication between Alex and Shannon worked out. I don’t want to say too much because it’s this which starts the ball rolling for the pair, but Shannon’s explanation about exactly what had happened earlier that day seemed weak to me. Perhaps it just needed a few more sentences to show the motivation of the other person. However, in terms of emotional impact for Alex and as a catalyst for the relationship between him and Shannon, it worked, so it was only a minor niggle. The second one was even more minor in that there was an over-abundance of similes used throughout the story and after a while I found it distracting.
Those fans of L.B. Gregg are not going to be disappointed with this story. The swift pacing, sympathetic characters and spooky story had me hooked and I read quickly to the end of the book. If you like tales of dark goings on in the woods, chills and thrills, and don’t mind a bit of gruesome stuff then I’d highly recommend Dudleytown. I enjoyed it a great deal.