A guest review by Jenre
A superbly satisfying conclusion to the consistently wonderful Conventions series, sees Lucas and Trent battling with vindictive ex-bosses and living a life where Lucas must stay in the closet.
When Trent agrees to move to Los Angeles with Lucas, he knows things aren’t going to be easy. Between a lawsuit, Lucas’ closeted status, difficulty finding work, and a few other things, ‘not easy’ turns out to be an understatement.
Lucas can’t regret bringing his lover to L.A., but he also can’t live openly with Trent the way he wants to. When an unexpected film role makes Lucas even more high-profile than he already was and an unknown enemy steps in to complicate things even further, Lucas has some hard choices to make. Trent’s happiness, and Lucas’, depend upon making the right ones.
I’ve enjoyed this series by TC Blue right from the start, but what has really had me sticking around are the characters of Lucas and Trent and their ongoing relationship. The first book Conventional Wisdom was a lighthearted romp containing two very different heroes who enjoyed a lust filled weekend together. The second book, Conventional Education, took that relationship forward, so that the characters were developed and there was hope of a future together. In this book, the sex becomes incidental as the emphasis shifts more to character based drama, and a plot which is more focused on taking us through all the loose ends and blockades that were set up previously in book 2.
At the end of the previous book, Trent, our goth computer gaming geek, has pretty much had all his dreams of hitting it big in game design destroyed, through the actions of a selfish boss who tried to pass off Trent’s work as his own. Trent is left with no apartment, and no job. Even worse, Mac slaps lawsuit after lawsuit on Trent leaving him over-qualified and yet unable to find work in his own field. Trent has moved in with Lucas, but even there nothing is simple. Lucas is deep in the closet, and the possibility of breaking into the big time means he has to stay hidden there. This causes expected tension between the pair as Trent struggles with his self-esteem and feeling like a ‘kept woman’.
Having followed this series to its conclusion, I feel like I know Trent and Lucas pretty well as characters. In this book, I really enjoyed seeing the characters change and develop according to their circumstance, but most of all, I loved being surprised by an unexpected nuance, which lifted the character of Trent especially into someone I could really relate to. Trent, to put it mildly, is put through the ringer in this book. He’s being all but crushed by Mac and his lawsuit, and yet is strong enough to stand up to him, even when he often feels like giving in. I liked that Lucas was a support for him, and through Lucas’ ongoing affection and by providing Trent with a place to live, Trent has the resources which allows him to keep strong. Lucas is also a cause for anxiety for Trent, mainly because the pair have to keep their relationship a secret. After the end of book two, I thought that this would be the biggest contention between the pair during this book and I was pleasantly surprised at the way both Trent and Lucas dealt with this aspect in a sensible and mature fashion. Another aspect of the plot which appealed to me was in the way that the two men have to adjust from having a comfortable (if sexually frustrating) long distance relationship, to living together. I found it delightful that both men were able to work through any problems before they became too big to deal with, thus cementing their love and strong emotional connection to each other.
There were other things that I enjoyed about the book too, especially the character of Kate, Lucas’ girlfriend, who I found to be one of the best female characters I’ve read in an m/m book for a long time. She’s warm, understanding and amusing, and I found myself wishing we had been told more about some of the darkness in her that is only hinted at in the book. The other characters who flit in and out of Trent and Lucas’ life, were also well rounded and added greatly to the complexity of the book, especially Trent’s friends Allan and Rob. I also liked the glimpses we saw into Lucas’ job as an actor, as well as some of the scenes involving the legal battle between Trent and Mac.
I have to admit, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this book, except for one thing, maybe, which happens right towards the end of the book. This twist in the plot forces a change, and I felt that, whilst I could understand the necessity for having it, it seemed a bit sudden and made the plot change rather abrupt. Perhaps I feel this way because I really wanted the plot to go a particular way, and this event meant that the same outcome was achieved but not as satisfactorily as I’d hoped. Sorry for being vague, but I don’t want to give away spoilers!
Other than that little niggle, Unconventional was a pretty terrific book. I’ve loved seeing progress of Trent and Lucas in this series, and to follow them on their journey of love. For those of you who have read books one and two, this is an immensely rewarding conclusion to the series. If you haven’t read books one and two, then you should, and soon!