Title: Cover Art
Author: Caroline Stephens
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: n/a
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: 36 pages
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: The pleasant start to this short story fades into ordinary sex.
Blurb: Shy erotic romance writer Ryan Michaels bases all his hero-characters on Nick Driscoll, the model who graces the covers of his books. After meeting Nick in person at a publisher get-together, Ryan is smitten but convinced that Nick would never be interested in him. Fantasy suddenly meets reality when Nick asks Ryan out for coffee. Can Ryan believe something that feels like a scene from one of his books is really happening to him?
I have always had some difficulties with short stories and novellas; as a literary form an author needs a high level of skill to do them well and often just the simple lack of space inhibits excellence. The set up to Cover Art is quite interesting in that you are essentially reading a story supposedly happening to an erotic romance author, Ryan, who usually writes such episodes starring the cover model he has a crush on—so the writer lives his own work in fact.
I found the initial build up between the gorgeous model (a nice guy not a jerk) Nick Driscoll and the shy, klutzy but cute Ryan to be just enjoyable enough to get me wanting to know how it would work out. Well, we all know where it’s going, but the devil is in the details—except it wasn’t. Approximately thirty-five percent of the book was the big sex scene. It was just ordinary—not badly written, just not memorable or even that interesting. If I’d been reading this one just for me I’d have skimmed it.
Now it could be reviewer’s rot has set in—that I have become desensitized by all the delicious sexy words I’ve been getting. I checked this out by rereading some other stuff, particularly shorter than I’d normally read. I am now adding to my notes on the thesis I am secretly compiling on how to write really, really, good sex.
What I have learnt from the difficulties of the short story form is that it’s very hard to build up the sense of intimacy with the characters that translates into shockingly good sex on the page. The kind, albeit tender, sensual, kinky, loving or just downright dirty, where there is almost personal frisson of involvement because it means as much to you as it does to the characters. There are a few writers that I can think of who do this amazingly well and often in short story or novella form. Perhaps sometimes the trick to the writing is just less is more, but not always as there are some very long sex scenes which are intensely erotic! Okay, so no easy answers here.
However, getting back to Cover Art, I hadn’t enough page time to really care about what was clearly of great importance to Ryan and then I wasn’t engaged enough to enjoy what was going on. This was a pleasant story, the first half keeping my interest, but then instead of being climatic, it finally did just fade away.