Title: The Crush
Author: Elizabeth Lister
Cover Artist: Winterheart Designs
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 119 pages, 32K Words
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Summary Review: This book could have been a lot better with more plot and less sex.
Jack Claridge’s sister, Amy, has a big crush on her English professor, Michael Donovan. When Jack agrees to accompany her on an outing with the object of her affection, the last thing he expects is the professor’s reaction to him. One surreptitious hand-job later and Michael is hooked. But will Jack ‘use him and lose him’ or does Jack care for the professor more than he thinks? And what will he tell Amy?
The blurb pretty well covers the plot of this story. Normally this type of book would not interest me but I had read and reviewed Elizabeth Lister’s first book Exposure which I liked a lot, so I wanted to try The Crush to see if there was a new twist that would make the story unusual, but there wasn’t.
Jack Claridge was a freelance writer who worked in the Chapters bookstore in Ottawa and Michael Donovan was the youngest Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa. Jack’s sister Amy who sang in a local band had returned to university to complete her degree and Michael was her professor. She had a huge crush on him because he was good looking and charming, and she persuaded Jack to go to a movie with her and Michael so he wouldn’t feel it was a date, since obviously that would be a conflict as he was her prof. When Jack saw Michael he was immediately attracted to him and Michael seemed to return his interest, which begged the question – was he straight or gay? That question was soon answered when they met in the public washroom a few minutes later and kissed. Amy, not knowing about the kiss, asked Michael out on another “date,” a concert by her band, and she made Jack tag along. However the guys left to go to Michael’s apartment while she was on stage.
Michael was falling for Jack who was a typical hot, young, twink. Jack appeared to be only interested in a good time and one night stands while Michael, who was 10 years older, was sick of the singles scene and was looking for a relationship. I had difficulty understanding what Michael saw in Jack because he was a bit of an air head. It wasn’t that his character was two dimensional, he was just juvenile for a 25 year old, but I suppose this was a case of “opposites attract.”
Several things bothered me about Jack and one was he was a size queen. The first time he and Michael had sex he measured Michael’s dick. I thought this was somewhat crass in a romance. Here’s part of the dialogue:
“Michael, it’s the goddamn Holy Grail…”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Jack, it’s just a cock,” he muttered and moved away from me. “Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so big.”
“Blasphemy, Michael. Don’t ever say that.”
He sat against the headboard, drawing one knee up. “Is that all I am? Just a guy with a nice ass and a big cock?”
“Well, no. You’ve got a great apartment and an impressive literature and music collection.”
He didn’t laugh. He gazed down at the sheets and shook his head slightly. Then he looked at me. “Jack, I don’t know if I can do this.”
“Do what? Fuck me crazy? I’m pretty sure you can. With a weapon like that…”
“I thought I could do this with no strings. I want to do it. But I…can’t.”
“That’s really too bad, Michael.” I looked at his cock once more,imagining how great it would feel inside me.
“That’s it then?” he said.
The Crush is told from Jack’s first person POV. As I indicated above, initially I thought he was very superficial and not very likeable and it took me a while to warm up to him. Amy was also selfish, something that I suppose had to do with their history when they were teenagers; for Jack some of his teenage experiences still rankled which probably made it easier for him not to feel too guilty about stealing Michael.
My other concern about this book was the amount of sex in it. I would say that 60% of the book was Jack and Michael having sex, leading up to having sex, playing with each other before and after sex, talking about sex, buying sex toys, and on and on, at the expense of the story. After a while I just skipped a lot of the action because the sex was boring. I know that some readers love books with lots of sex so those readers will enjoy The Crush. I would have preferred more plot so this book will not be high on my list of re-reads.
One scene really surprised me – Jack and Michael gave each other hand jobs in the movie theatre with Amy sitting next to Michael. This made her appear to be totally clueless and not very observant. On the surface she seemed bright enough but it took her a while to catch on to what her brother and her crush were up to, and then all hell broke loose because she thought Jack should have kept his hands off Michael, which I thought was ingenuous since Michael was gay and was never hers.
To summarize: I liked Michael’s character but I’m still on the fence about Jack and Amy who were playing juvenile games with each other in adulthood. The story would have been more enjoyable for me if the MCs had spent less time having sex and got to know each other better before declaring love everlasting. Conversely, the writing was good and it’s obvious that Elizabeth Lister has the potential to develop into a much better author. Towards the end the book improved marginally but not enough for me to recommend it, and if you want to read a better book by this author you should pick up Exposure if you haven’t read it