Title: Sweet & Sour Soap
Author: Susan Laine
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Release Date: December 5th 2015
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Erotic Romance
Page Count: 100 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.9 stars out of 5
Andrew “Mac” McGuire and Dylan Keane are twenty-something heartthrobs in a weekly soap opera called The Lighthouse. They are best buddies on and off the set.
To boost ratings, however, the producers and writers decide to change the two young men’s roles on the show from bad boy and cute geek close friends…into lovers.
When Mac and Dylan start rehearsing the gay intimacies needed for believable portrayals of their new storylines, their fictitious roles and real lives get tangled up. One erotic experiment paves the way for the next sensual scene.
All too soon, neither one is able to tell who is falling in love—their characters or their true selves.
I deliberately requested this story to read for review. I am a huge sucker for friends-to-lovers trope, and an even bigger sucker for anal virgins, so this story, with not one, but two new to gay sex virgins? Oh, I was ready to be in heaven!
Mac and Dylan have been best friends both on and off camera since starting on the evening Soap Opera, The Lighthouse six years ago. Mac’s the official bad-ass bad boy and Dylan’s the sweeter, more laid back one.
Not much got him down. He was one of those perpetually upbeat personalities. A perfect counterbalance for Mac’s cynical antisocial outlook and habits.
When the producers and writers decide to make their characters gay, Mac and Dylan are completely shocked.
“W-what if we don’t wanna do this?” Mac asked, doing his best to control his voice and his emotions.
Mr. Prince gave him a cursory look. “Why do you think there’s gonna be an accident? The gay thing’s locked, boys. It can happen with you holding the reins, or the accident will disfigure you to the point of requiring plastic surgery—and a new actor. Your call.”
Though Mac’s character was one of the show’s heartthrobs, he wasn’t foolish enough to believe he was irreplaceable. No one was.
He couldn’t look at Dylan. He wasn’t sure what frightened him the most. That Dylan would agree and become his lover on the show—or disagree and get fired. They were best friends on and off the air. Either way, things would become weird.
Mac is initially really upset, but not because he’s homophobic, rather because he believes this could potentially ruin he burgeoning career. Dylan, on the other hand, is more worried what it will mean for their future, both on and off the show.
“What the hell are those producers thinking? Nick and Shawn have been straight all this time. I mean, this gay-for-you shit is just a fucking urban legend. It doesn’t really happen. Either you’re gay, straight, or bi. You know, from the start.”
Dylan shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know. People change. Anything can happen. Sometimes you can wake up one morning and realize that your happiness, your soul mate, has been there, right under your nose the entire time.”
After Mac loses some steam, they talk things out and decide to give the new direction a try. Then Dylan suggests they “practice” first.
“S-say what?” Mac found it hard to breathe. His vision blurred as his blood pressure went through the roof. He wasn’t sure if the emotion causing the reaction was nervousness or…or something else.
Dylan shrugged, but his cheeks pinked and he hid his eyes behind a veil of long lashes, which told Mac his friend was anything but nonchalant. “I just thought…you know, that if we did a rehearsal or two, it wouldn’t be so awkward in front of the camera and we wouldn’t waste valuable production time.”
You can guess what happens then, or at least I could. It all follows a predictable pattern. I had really high hopes for the story, but in the end, I just didn’t connect with the characters or the writing. Several things bugged me:
* The stiffly formal to suddenly casual, back to formal writing style;
* the flashes of their soap character’s stories (Now that could have been a really interesting part of the story if it had been written more like a script and less…the way it was.);
* the dropped storylines of angsty parent backstory;
* the unnecessary angst;
* the whole agent business;
* and finally, the tied-up-too-neatly ending that came together in a “How and what just happened?” kind of way to me.
I had high hopes, but I was disappointed. It had potential, tons of it, but it just didn’t work for me.