Title: Stage Fright
Author: Pender Mackie
Amazon: Buy Link Stage Fright
Genre: contemporary mm romance
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius.
Summary: Romance between a stripper and bartender in Las Vegas.
After six months dancing in a Las Vegas all-male revue, Jesse Snowe is used to being groped by enthusiastic females, but he’s more interested in Val, the sexy new bartender. Jesse’s tired of the closet, but when he thinks of coming out he gets stage fright. The thought of telling his fellow dancers he’s gay makes his palms sweat and his heart race and not in a good way. Dating Val under the watchful eyes of the dance captain could reveal Jesse’s secret and might be more of a gamble than Jesse’s willing to take.
For Val Tremain the glamor of Vegas is wearing thin. He’s even less enamored with his new job, but knowing he’ll see Jesse’s beautiful body makes it easier to go to work. When Jesse hints he’s interested Val can’t believe his luck. But Jesse’s latest dance routine encourages a little too much audience participation and Val struggles with jealousy.
Jesse knows his job’s hard on their relationship and being closeted doesn’t help. Strangers slap his butt every night, yet he’s afraid to touch his lover in public. If he wants this relationship to work Jesse may have to reveal more than just his body.
I have read several short stories by this author and really liked them, so I was curious to see what she would do with a full length story. I will admit that I groaned when I saw that one of the MC was a stripper as I almost completely gave up on reading about strippers some time ago – too many “mostly sex and no or very little plot” bad experiences. My curiosity, however, won and I asked for the book.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised in that regard. This is one of the few stories that I have read that treats stripping like work. No, I do not doubt that it is very hard work and not for everybody. What I am saying is that I mostly have read stories which used the MC being a strippers as an excuse to put more and more sex scenes in the story instead of telling a good story where MC just happens to be one. I really liked that Jesse’s job in a sense moved his developing relationship forward – both good and bad things that came with it. In fact I really liked Jesse ; I thought he was strong, fun to get to know and an interesting character.
I also thought that Val was annoying as hell. I thought he made way too much of a deal of Jesse being in a closet. Jesse was closeted at work only, he was out to friends and family, and who the heck says that you even have to let your coworkers know about your personal life in the first place? I thought his jealousy was not warranted by anything (either you trust your boyfriend or you do not, no matter where he works IMO) and that everybody gave him a pass on that, and I wished that Jesse would have kicked him to the curb and never came back. I also have to say that I found Val’s character to be not as rich as Jesse’s. I am talking about knowing very little about him as a person besides him being a very jealous one. At the same time I thought Val was drawn very consistently.
And I really liked the way their separation was handled in this story. It made perfect sense to me and this is from someone who found the mandatory break up/separation in romance novels annoying and tacked on plenty of times. Here the separation came because of Val’s jealousy which he showed pretty early in their relationship.
I wanted Jesse to be happy and for his sake I cheered at the end.
I really enjoyed the writing overall, but you will probably ask me why not a higher grade then?
At first I actually thought about keeping quiet about this issue completely as I was worried that I would start ranting because a lot of the readers have some hot button issues and this has been one of mine for a while. I figured that if I am afraid that I would not be able to address it professionally, I may as well not say anything at all. After I finished this review, I went to check out Goodreads to see what other people were saying. There was only one review there which called it as the reviewer saw it and I decided that ranting or not, I should say it, because that was exactly how I felt about the issue. I was incredibly unhappy with the portrayal of *all* women who go to male strip club. I am not kidding – it is as if the author took a very broad brush and portrayed all women who come to enjoy themselves as how to put it? Well, as if they were absolutely incapable of controlling themselves. I was having a very hard time with it.
If that does not bother you, I think you will enjoy the story more than I did.