Calling the Show

Title: Calling the Show
Author: J. A. Rock
Buy link: (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: Short Novel
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 rating stars

A Guest Review by Raine

Summary Review: Young, vulnerable and complicated explore love and kink backstage in this clever and funny show with sexual hula hooping as additional extra – a heart warming hit.

Blurb: Senior stage manager Jesse Ferelit and sophomore light board operator Simeck Whedon meet while crewing a college theater production. Jesse hates everything about Sim — his lack of theater experience, his obsession with LGBTQ politics, his infatuation with, of all things, hula hoops. Well, he doesn’t hate everything. He doesn’t mind Sim’s eyes, or hair, or his surprising ability to be cool in a crisis. But Jesse is graduating in just a few months, and if there’s one thing he does not have time for, it’s a relationship.

Sim knows exactly what he likes: civil rights, the circus, and sex. And he knows what he likes about Jesse. In the control booth, Jesse is exactly Sim’s type — a natural leader, collected and confident. But outside the booth, he seems reclusive, acerbic and uptight — hardly Sim’s type at all. Is a relationship with Jesse a real possibility, just a fantasy, or a hopelessly lost cause?

When Sim offers to teach Jesse how to hula hoop as a way to relax and loosen up, the lessons ease the two men out of their individual circles and into an unexpected shared world of sex, kink, friendship, and eventually love.


Written in alternate first person chapters, this book displays the unusual personalities of the two main characters, Jesse and Simeck with skilful intimacy. How these young men get over their initial dislike of each other and build a strong and intuitive relationship forms the backbone of the story. This is set against a fascinating background of a vibrant college theatre, with a well written cast of interesting cliche free secondary characters.

Primarily it seems as if Jesse with his idiosyncratic mix of limited social skills, psychotic control tendencies, nervous tension and surprising kindness is going to dominate as the character with ‘issues’. This description by Sim of an early shared meal together delightfully reveals some of Jesse’s particular peculiar qualities,

We ate in the costume shop. We had to make sure we were at least seven feet from any costume at any given moment – Jesse had used some algorithm to figure out splatter potential.The beef stew wasn’t the dog – foody stuff from a can. I was pretty sure Jesse had actually made it.

However as the book progresses it becomes clear that Sim is far from what his crowd pleasing smile suggests.Their exploration of each other’s personalities is revealed with a lovely, light and very funny touch. Jesse has created various mechanisms that help him cope with his problems. Working as stage manager for the theatre dept’s productions helps him painfully to accept that he can’t control everything given the unpredictable nature of drama. Sim superficially seems an easier and more settled character, however his own well founded insecurities are also gradually teased out.

Their sexual relationship is placed within an imaginative display of their personal inclinations toward BDSM. This tentative exploration of their individual kinks is done informally but they are both aware of the labels of the more formal manifestations of BDSM. Their discussions and worries about their sexuality is very well done and added to the effective way we become part of their continually developing relationship. As they consider who really is ‘calling the show’, I really liked this insight of Sim’s,

The whole concept of doms is just another way society’s obsessed with hero making.

There are no easy labels to fit what they enjoy together and BDSM is not used here as some kind of therapy.

Sim’s mad hula hooping skills were an unexpectedly enjoyable addition to this story. It gave another unpredictable, fun……. and did I mention very hot……element to the relationship.

This was an unusual, thoughtful and funny book, focusing with great depth on the main characters. I had an occasional problem with the changing personal point of view, but in the main, the device only enhanced the level of close involvement with these two amazing young men.




  • I’ve seen the comments about hula hooping on my update feed on GR. So I was already curious about this one, but this review makes me all the more interested. I’ve also been looking forward to reading Wacky Wednesday. I swear, one of these days my TBR pile will collapse and crush me, even if it is mostly ebooks! :hysterics:

    • Hi jeacyci,
      I’m always in shock and awe of people who have TBR piles, as I am so greedy I devour everything at once….but due to unexpected circumstances I actually have 4 books waiting, and it feels good. Wacky Wednesday is one of them and so far it is fab, and I don’t like body switch plots normally.

      Hope you get round to reading both of these great books, J A Rock is now on my must buy list. 😀

      • Stares at Raine contemplating how it is possible lol. I made huge dent in my TBR lately and it is still over 200 books long lol. It used to be twice a much so I am doing good 🙂

          • A lot of them are from older days – I am much better now about reading what I bought right away. But yeah and it used to be much longer 🙂

            • Funny, I’m the opposite! I used to be much better about reading them right away. And then there was some sort of tipping point, and my TBR seems to get ever-longer rather than shorter! 😮

      • I have a very bad habit of buying more than I can read. I like to have a “stash” for a rainy day, biblioholic that I am. And, like any addict, that has a tendency to get a little out of control sometimes… 😀

            • I have another recipe – buy a book and then realize that you are not in the mood for it and postpone it for later and then do it with another one. Or look at the last page and realize that you do not like the ending. Lather, rinse, repeat :). Buy several books in a row just because you liked the blurb and do it every other day of the week – but I guess this is the variation of yours buy more than you have time to read. But honestly my days of buying indiscriminately at least are over – “the book is good enough just because it has two guys in it” may have been enough for me three four years ago, but so not now. If I can read Ginn Hale, Tamara Allen, Sarah black, Heidi Cullinan, Ann Sommerville, Marie Sexton and the list can go on, you bet I will take much more careful look at every book I purchase.

              • Minus the “look at the last page” bit, that’s exactly how I did it! I was just being succinct (for once! :bananadancer: ). Well, that plus “stocking up” when Fictionwise has a big sale. I think having so many friends on GR with similar tastes is part of it, too, as I discover more books I’m likely to love that way.

                I think I’ve always been pretty careful about what I buy, but I’ve also discovered so many favorite authors by now. And I love being able to download a Kindle sample to get a feel for the writing if I’m tempted to try a new author.


Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: