Author: Ash Penn
Cover Artist: Ginny Glass
Buy Link: Buy Link Snowflake
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary review: A well written romance with one very lovely character which moved a bit too quickly in the romance.
Closeted eighteen-year-old Steve Chiverton’s fantasy boyfriend is Beau Mason, a quiet and reserved older man who lives on the edge of the village. A man who barely knows Steve exists. Amateur artist Beau’s fantasy is Rick Angell, international rock star and the fuel of many an erotic dream.
Temptation is the hottest club in town, and Steve’s there looking for a boyfriend who can tear down his walls of secrecy. Beau’s there too, looking for indiscriminate sex to ease the pain of a broken relationship. When Beau suffers a minor asthma attack, Steve sees his chance to play rescuer and jumps at the chance to escort his fantasy home.
The sex they enjoy is more intense than Steve’s virginal imagination could ever have supplied. Beau is everything he could want in a boyfriend and far more besides. The unexpected arrival of Beau’s ex-lover sends Steve’s dream-come-true crashing around his ears. How can he possibly compete for Beau affections with Rick Angell, world famous rock star, public heterosexual and bedroom user of Beau’s affections and body?
This story is part of a series of books by Loose Id on the theme of Coming Out. It’s set in a small village in the South of England and tells of Beau who is the secret ‘kept man’ of a famous rock star, Rick Angell. As the book starts Beau learns something about Rick which is the last straw for their relationship. Steve works for his parents in the local newsagents and has lusted after Beau for a long time. He’s not out, but mainly because there didn’t seem to be a good enough reason to expose himself to his father’s biogtry, so he keeps quiet. When Steve helps Beau after he suffers an asthma attack, it starts a chain of events which lead to both men making life changing decisions.
There was much to like about this story which is written in an easy flowing style. I quickly got into the book and my sympathies firmly secured for both characters at first. Steve in particular is delightful. He’s only 18, but has a sensible and mature head on his shoulders which makes him seem older. This is coupled with a crippling shyness and a slightly overweight large body which means he finds it difficult to make new friends and so his only friend is a homophobic idiot, who Steve feels unable to stand up to. Despite this, he really is a lovely, kind-hearted guy and I liked him a great deal. Beau is a very different character being somewhat needy and more flamboyant in the way he thinks and acts. He’s also very lonely and I felt very sorry for him. He’s being used by Rick, and he knows it, but he’s not strong enough to get himself out of the situation, forever living in hope that Rick will magically leave his life of fame behind to be with him.
Rather interestingly, this story begins with a misunderstanding. Beau misreads Steve’s blushes and fumbling attempts at conversation and instead reads it as scowls and homophobic slurs. This is further reinforced by the behaviour of Steve’s dad and friend. It was amusing in an ironic way to see the two different points of view one after the other, especially in one of the key opening scenes where Steve serves Beau in his paper shop. Steve is mortified by the lustful feelings he has for Beau, but all Beau sees is a glowing teenager who he thinks wants to punch him. The first part of the book follows this tangled web of misunderstandings until thins are finally sorted out when they are put in a position where they have to talk to one another. It was an amusing twist on the Big Misunderstanding trope that worked well for me in this context.
The mid part of the book is taken up with a lengthy sex scene between Steve and Beau which is used to bring out certain core characteristics as well as provide a set point on which the plot jumps forward. This was a lovely scene where Steve gets to explore the lust he’s felt for Beau, and Beau gets to be with someone who really appreciates him. I also liked the way they explored the dynamics of sex with Beau teaching Steve and yet still remaining very submissive. It’s rather difficult to describe why this worked so well, but it told me much about them as a couple, and also their distinct personalities.
My main problems with the story stem from the character of Rick. He really is very hateful and selfish and I found very little to sympathise in his character. He also makes Beau seem weak and I lost some sympathy for Beau when the pair are together because I just couldn’t see why Beau was so attracted to Rick. Even with their shared history, it’s apparent that Rick doesn’t love Beau and only keeps him because Beau makes him feel good about himself, and that really didn’t reflect well on Beau. The scenes between them are full of sniping, lusting, and spiteful argument. Neither man come across very well and it made me wonder whether the very lovely Steve wouldn’t be better off finding someone other than an embittered older man.
Another part that didn’t work so well was the way that everything moved so quickly for Steve and Beau. Most of the book takes place in the space of a day and by the end they’ve made a commitment to each other. Even with Steve lusting after Beau from afar for weeks, it was too fast for me. Yes, they had great sex but that was followed by an intensely awkward few hours and I felt there needed to be more with Steve and Beau together – without Rick poisoning everything – before I could be happy about the events in the epilogue.
So overall, I had mixed views about the story. Steve was wonderful, a great mix of maturity and naivety, and my feelings for Beau ran a spectrum of like to dislike to like again. In terms of the theme of Coming Out, I loved that Steve has such a sensible attitude to this, but was prepared to take that step out of the closet when he knew it was time. For that, and the other parts of Steve’s character, I can recommend this book.