A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: Escaping the horror his life is, a young man discovers that heroes really do exist, and that it is possible to beat the odds and have a happily ever after.
Blurb: Gay, nerdy and extremely shy, scientist Dr. Edward Atherton is desperate for his first sexual encounter in order to avoid being a 30 year old virgin. With his birthday fast approaching, he gives up traditional routes and goes in search of a prostitute. The young Goth he meets in a back alley in Soho, London, isn’t exactly what he had in mind, but he soon finds himself in bed with Fox Baillie having the sexiest time of his life.
When he wakes up to find Fox gone and with him Edward’s computer, he feels embarrassed and used. Problem: still he can’t get the skinny, pale young man with the black hair and eye makeup out of his mind. He finds Fox once again in the alley and is treated to a hand job up against the grimy wall.
The last thing Fox expected when he’s ordered by his ex-military father to seduce Dr. Atherton and steal his computer is that he’ll actually find the dude sexy and enjoy the encounter. Ignoring the danger from his brutal father, he continues to seek out Eddie to continue what they started. But what kind of future is there for a scientist and a rentboy?
Review: Please be warned, Rentboy is not for the faint of heart–nor is it for anyone who cannot stand a healthy dose of violence. This violence all too often comes in the form of an abusive father beating the crap out of his son. Sorry, there is no kind way to describe what Fox’s father William Baillie does to his son, in fact, I am showing real restraint in leaving the explanation at that statement above.
The story revolves around Fox (real name, Afton) who survives the constant horror of an abusive father (ex-military turned gun for hire) and an alcoholic mother who, her self, endures the flying fists and non-stop hate that spews from her husband’s mouth. To complete this family scenario is identical twin siblings, Alder and Arden who from birth have been beaten and left trapped inside their own disturbing autistic world. They are the most precious thing to Fox…until Eddie Atherton comes along.
Eddie was meant to be a job his father beat Fox into doing. Fox couldn’t care less why he was to steal from the brilliant scientist, he only knew that if he posed as a prostitute and did what he was told, he could avoid his fathers flying fists for a brief moment. So he does exactly what his father asks and discovers that Dr. Edward Atherton is not only weirdly brilliant, but a first class decent and honest man–a modern day hero by all accounts.
And Fox, for the first time, falls deeply in love. To his utter dismay, Eddie does as well. Now Fox has to decide whether to tell Eddie that everything the scientist felt was built on a stack of lies and that, in order to survive his fathers wrath, Fox had inadvertently delivered the man he loved into the hands of truly evil forces.
Rentboy was stunning in its ability to keep the reader on the edge of their seat and pull them into a world where one alternately cringed in horror and shouted hooray in abandoned glee. Author Fyn Alexander once again mates up an older man with a young college age boy and then turns the tables ever so slightly in making the boy the truly stronger and more dominant of the two. That twist makes for some of the more poignant and funny moments in an otherwise dark and, at times, bleak novel.
Do not get me wrong–this novel was brilliant. The characters blazed off the page straight into our hearts and minds and, yes, provoked more than one nightmare in this reviewer. The reality of Fox’s coping mechanism (self-mutilation) to the horrific final scenes that include vicious torture of both the main characters left me stunned. They also made me read all the faster in the hopes that there would be a happy ever after somewhere in this fast-paced, gritty and dark novel.
Yes, dear reader, there is–a happy ever after. And when the author drags you limping and breathless to the final pages, you sit back and shake your head at one of the most impressive and compelling stories ever to grace the page. Along the way, Fyn Alexander throws fans a sweet cameo of Kael and Angel–those of you familiar with the author’s work will recall this team. It was a delicious moment, one that made me laugh out loud.
Rentboy squeezed out of me a gamut of emotions and presented to me a gripping mystery that left me dazed by its complexity. The story peeled back one layer at a time. Constantly moving, with delightfully humane and sometimes despicable side characters, the novel swept me along in its frantic pace and left me shaking at some of the darker, more violent scenes. But, dear reader, none of the violence was gratuitous with each episode being critical to unfolding the plot.
Rentboy is one of the finest mysteries I have read in a long time. However, dear reader, you should go into this with your eyes open. The violence depicted throughout this story does not ease up; it, in fact, drives the story most of the time. Having said that, I must also say that if you can handle this type of story, I guarantee you will find it to be top notch story telling at its best.
As always, the decision lies in your hands, dear reader. I recommend you dive into this one–with eyes open and a strong heart–but dive in nonetheless. Rentboy by Fyn Alexander is a five star read in this reviewer’s book.