Title & Link: Bullet (Blue Boy #1)
Author: Garrett Leigh
Cover Artist: GD Leigh
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella (103 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A dark and gritty look at the boys of the porn industry and what makes them tick.
Blurb: Levi Ramone entered the gay porn market for one reason, and one reason only: he needed the cash to pay his momma’s spiraling gambling debts. Seven years later, he’s a veteran with a reputation as one of Blue Boy Studio’s most ruthless tops, and when his boss suggests it’s time for a change, he finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun. Figuratively speaking, at least.
Enter Sonny Valentine, a go-go dancer at Blue’s sister club, Silver’s. Levi has secretly admired Sonny from afar for years, but there’s a problem. He can’t stand Sonny and the feeling is entirely mutual. When Levi learns Sonny is to play the third part in a scene he already considers his worst nightmare, he figures things can’t get any worse.
But when preparations for the scene from hell collide with tragic events in his personal life, he finds his fast-growing, red-hot attraction to Sonny just might be the only thing left between him and a bullet.
Blue Boy Series
Review: Bullet by author Garrett Leigh marks the first book in what I sincerely hope will be an ongoing series about the boys from the fictitious porn film company, Blue Boy Studios. This novel is an unvarnished, gritty look at the porn industry and some of the boys who grace her films. Each drawn there for different reasons, it quickly becomes apparent that for Levi Ramone this is simply a job–a means to an end. Rarely does the number of men who are paraded before Levi to film with even make an impact on him. For three years, he has mindlessly shot each sex scene and collected the paycheck that would allow him to care for his mother.
An only child, who at a young age lost his father to suicide by shotgun, Levi now cares for his bitter, and ofttimes abusive alcoholic mother, Bella. Now, unable to care for herself and barely lucid enough to do even the simplest of tasks, Bella is the burden Levi must bear. Hence he works two jobs, one repairing motorbikes with his best friend and the other shooting porn. Every part of his life is neatly compartmentalized so that he does not need to reach beyond his exhaustion and self-loathing to really examine where he is going in this life he has been handed or even contemplate letting down his guard long enough to let another man in.
In an unprecedented move, the studio asks the rough and aloof “top” that Levi has become known as to do a three-way scene and be a “bottom” Not only is Levi asked to try anal sex for the first time ever, it will be with the biggest and roughest top the studio has on the payroll. The third member of the scene will end up being a dancer that Levi not only dislikes, but the only man at the studio that can seem to get under his skin. Everything in Levi screams to turn the scene down, but the money is huge and his mother is being evicted from her current apartment, and there are bills to pay and he…he is trapped. When Levi finally agrees to the scene, little does he realize how greatly his life is going to change and just how effective the young dancer, Sonny Valentine, is at pushing his way into Levi’s carefully controlled life.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the freshman novel, Slide, by Garrett Leigh, I was greatly anticipating this new novella by her and I was not disappointed. This is an unvarnished and gritty look at what motivates men to sell sex on film for a living. The author delves deeply into the psyche of her porn star. Levi is no pushover, rather he is angry and strong, often treating other actors with disdain and even cruelty. While he is never physically abusive, it is his aloof demeanor and uncaring attitude that tells the other man in the scene that they are of little or no importance to Levi Ramone. The sex for Levi is beyond casual, it is almost on auto-pilot, a means of release that will not come from his own hand and nothing more. So, when he comes up against the outspoken and equally angry Sonny, Levi is pulled up short at the image of himself that Sonny harshly presents. For the first time, Levi begins to realize how much the deep bitterness and horrific life he has been saddled with affects the way he treats his fellow actors.
Already burdened with such guilt and remorse, Levi’s tenuous grip on his emotions now threatens to burst wide open and he is truly frightened with what he may find there. The pain and suffering of this man was palpable. Author Garrett Leigh has such an incredible gift for writing multi-layered characters who are slowly revealed piece by piece within her carefully crafted story. Bullet was the story of a man who had been beaten down so often that he simply erected walls around himself in an act of self-preservation. He was just so unhappy, so wounded, your heart just bled for him.
I believe the real talent of author Garrett Leigh lay in the way in which she allows her characters to be vulnerable. This story shows the utter breakdown of one man’s life and the tentative beginning of a new life and love that will ultimately save him. There is no big or neat happy ever after in this novel but there is such definite hope and potential for happiness. And, to be frank, that is just brilliant for to give this type of story any other ending would have done a real disservice to the character and the truth of the writing.
The only difficulty I had with the novel was the anger that came off of Sonny in nearly every encounter with Levi. I felt at times it limited his character and made it a little less believable for Levi to be drawn to him. Levi was haunted, surrounded by the anger and resentment from his mother and to have that same intensity of emotion in the man he was finding himself falling for was just a bit too much to believe. I would have thought he would shy away from someone who was nearly as intense emotionally as his mother.
However I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the next installment in this Blue Boys series. In Bullet we are introduced to just a few more porn boys, never too many that it is overwhelming but just enough to whet our appetite and spark our imagination to hear their stories. This was a well done novella with a gritty story to tell and a redeeming ending that left the reader hopeful. I really enjoyed it!