A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: If this had been supposed to be a parody, it would’ve been a good one. Unfortunately, it was likely meant to be taken seriously.
The Blurb: Love heals all scars. Teens are dying and Blaine Wilson, a DC police detective, knows why. The scars on his right leg, left rib cage and left collar bone are a brutal reminder of his past as a teen prostitute, and a key to solving this investigation.
Blaine’s trips to gay bars are reckless but he’s searching for solace for his wounds. When he meets Andy everything changes. Dating Andy forces him out of the closet at work and then he has to admit his past indiscretions to his captain.
Andy falls in love at the drop of a hat and he’s promised his two best friends he won’t fall so easily again. When he meets Blaine he’s helpless to resist the instant attraction.
Andy and Blaine are dedicated to making their relationship work when the killer targets Andy and his two best friends. Can Blaine save his lover and Andy’s friends without losing himself?
Reader Advisory: This book deals with issues relating to male teen prostitution, including non-graphic references to underage sex. It also includes themes of murder and violence against gay men, and occasional scenes from the point of view of a homophobic villain.
The Review: A former prostitute turned cop? A serial killer who marks his victims in quite the same way said cop had been marked by a still unknown attacker years ago? The cop’s love interest being targeted by the very same killer the cop is hunting ? The concept had me hooked on the spot. The story started out interesting enough too, right at the crime scene, with Blaine the cop on the verges of losing his self-control as he takes in the victim’s wounds and realizes how they relate to his past.
Blaine has only recently transferred to DC, and he’s glad that no one here knows about his homosexuality, or his past as a prostitute. On top of that, he has to deal with a serious case of loneliness, which he attempts to drown with frequent anonymous fucks at a gay club, and his meddling female partner, who thinks him morose and keeps trying to remedy that by setting him up with her friends.
Once Blaine realizes his attacker of so long ago ago might actually be the very perp he’s looking for here and now, he realizes he can’t very well keep hiding much longer – which causes an understandable conflict of interests in him. This is why Blaine, at first, buries his head in the sand and says nothing. But then two things happen that force him to reveal his secrets. Nate, a young prostitute Blaine formed a connection with, is attacked and barely makes it out alive, and Blaine meets Andy, a dancer and actor, a man he deems worthy to come out of the closet for.
Once he’s made his decision, Blaine pulls it through, and soon things look golden. He and Andy practically live together with the blessings of Andy’s protective friends, and the murder case starts moving. But then a series of strange coincidences puts Andy’s friends on the killer’s hit list, and suddenly it’s Andy’s life that is at stakes, and Blaine is Andy’s only hope for survival.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Perhaps a bit far fetched, but who cares, it’s fiction after all, isn’t it? And the mystery wasn’t all that bad, actually, even though it required some suspension of disbelief, starting with how a former teen prostitute like Blaine could turn out a cop in the first place, what with security clearance and background checks and such, continuing with the actual course of the investigation (for example with Blaine demanding of Lucy she use her female assets to get a reluctant witness to spill the beans) and not yet ending with the series of hunches and coincidences that had Blaine show up just in time to save his lover’s life.
The taut writing style didn’t appeal to me overly much, but that’s mostly a matter of taste. The same may apply to the multiple POV’s; aside from Blaine and Andy, several other character have their say, including Nate, and Blaine’s partner Lucy, and even the killer, who was a bigoted, megalomaniac nutcase who behaved so erratic I couldn’t help wondering how he remained undetected as long as he supposedly did. Some parts were really well wrought out, particularly the harrowing misery of living on the streets and the day-to-day ordeal of turning tricks for a living. I also found it remarkable that the rent boys were always referred to as prostitutes, never some more derogatory term.
But, the romance – that’s where this story really ran out of the rudder for me.
Andy’s and Blaine’s first meeting in Blaine’s favorite hookup joint (their second meeting, actually, since Andy had already caught a glimpse at Blaine driving by him on the street) had me scratching my head due to the instant connection they formed. It wasn’t the insta-lust that puzzled me, given the location – two attractive strangers in a gay bar, serious flirtation, what’s to expect? Certainly not what actually happened, which would be commitment-shy Blaine talking about their future relationship by the second sentence they exchanged, and adventurous Andy virtuously calling it an early night because of his early start the next day and both of them going home alone that night. Then again, perhaps they were just being mature adults, they’re both over thirty after all, I thought.
However, it went on in the same vein. Andy almost weeped into his pillow from longing for Blaine the same night. Meeting on the street on the next day by chance, Blaine kissed Andy in front of his partner Lucy, effectively blasting the doors of his closet wide open (after having talked to Andy once for less than half an hour, mind!). But the real kicker came once they FINALLY had a closed door between them and the world for the first time (three days after their above-mentioned first meeting). Picture two sexy and horny and insta-enamored guys, hot kisses, condom on, lube applied where it’s supposed to go, and then the following scene happened:
Blaine grabbed Andy and turned him around, then pulled him into a crushing kiss. They were panting in seconds; sweat beaded on Blaine’s chest and the lube from the condom was cold against his belly. Andy was driving him crazy, but he wouldn’t mess up this relationship with a quick fuck.
He pushed Andy away. “No. I’m not doing this right now. I want you in my life for a long time. I want to get to know you.” What the hell was he doing? He could be inside this wonderful man right now. His entire body hurt with desire.
Andy’s face grew serious. “I want us to last, too.”
“We can’t do this right now.”
Sweet and considerate, aren’t they? Epitomes of reason. I couldn’t take anything serious that went on between them after that. It didn’t help that, once they’d established that it was twu wuv for both of them (they all but started picking china patterns shortly after the scene above, after all), Blaine kept agonizing over how Andy was too good for him, how cop’s relationships never lasted, how Andy was surely to be disgusted with Blaine’s past, his scars, his work (all this after Andy had reassured him to the contrary).
And the ending was just over the top, from Blaine’s riding in to Andy’s rescue, literally guns blazing, to the “he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not” going on during their hospital reunion scene. It almost didn’t matter that things smoothly fell into place for both of them, professionally as well as privately, and Blaine’s past trauma was miraculously healed by Andy’s unerring love, and that Nate just dropped from the story somehow after playing such a crucial role for the most part.
This book would’ve made a rather decent mystery without the romance part, and a real nice parody on the m/m romance genre without the serious and sensibly written parts about teenage prostitution. As it was, it went both ways and arrived nowhere, unfortunately.