Title: Fifteen Shades of Gay (for Pay)
Author: T. Baggins
Cover artist: n/a
Publisher: Vodoo Lily Press
Amazon Buy Link:Fifteen Shades of Gay (For Pay)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 70000 words
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Great writing, closeted republican politician, male escort who thinks he is straight, but who is really and truly bisexual, one of the best female characters in this genre…and one of the least liked titles I have ever seen in this genre. Oh my.
Andrew Reynolds is determined to stay in New York City as long as his sister Marie, a cancer patient, needs him. But despite his good looks and talent, Andrew hasn’t managed to find work as an actor. With his bank account empty and his credit cards maxed, Andrew needs money fast. Gay escorts make a nice living, but there’s one problem–Andrew isn’t gay.
Ever since his early teens, when Andrew’s father shocked everyone by coming out, Andrew has been uncomfortable around gay men. Pretending to be gay will be the role of a lifetime. From male/male dates to erotic toys, spankings and more extreme play, Andrew must satisfy his clients without revealing his usual tastes.
… AND ROMANCE
Andrew’s first date with closeted politician Cormac Donovan ends in disaster. Yet with each successive booking, the attraction between them grows. As Andrew struggles with unexpected new feelings, Cormac puts his senatorial career in danger. And what began as a way for Andrew to earn money becomes a one-way ticket to heartbreak–or lasting love.
If my summary did not make it clear, I extremely disliked the title of this book. It reflects the story pretty well, but if I had not seen the good reviews on Goodreads, I would have never picked it up, because I thought it was a parody of that book that must not be named. It is just my personal dislike – I do not want any book I like to have any association with that book :-). As I said, it definitely fits the story, but I thought that the writer who seemed to have such great writing skills (just look at that awesome blurb!) could have found another one which fitted the story too.
Fortunately the title is the only thing I really disliked about this book. The writing is vivid and engaging, both main characters have some pretty serious flaws and still the writer managed to make them likeable for this reader. The relationship between a closeted politician and a prostitute/escort is of course not a new set up in mm romance, but I thought that the book took the old trope and made it its own.
Both Andre and Cormac have flaws. I mean, I certainly never expected to like a closeted republican politician like Cormac – I could never blame any character or person in real life for being in the closet, but I certainly cannot stand hypocrites and boy, did Cormac look like one to me several times in the story. And I still loved him. I believed that he had a good heart, I got the reasons why he was so messed up and I believed that he wanted to do better.
In a sense Andrew was even more interesting to me. To tell you the truth I did not exactly expect to like him either, because “uncomfortable around gay men” according to the blurb IMO is the deeply understated characterization of how and what Andrew felt about gay men, something I also usually have no patience for in fiction or real life. Having said that, Andrew absolutely was not the character I expected him to be based on the blurb.
You know how often you read a book you think that character acts irrationally but your impression just does not match what the writer is trying to convey?
Well, I think in this book the writer conveyed the theme of the good person acting irrationally, explained why and made Andrew very sympathetic to me. I really loved Andrew and thought he and Cormac made a wonderful couple.
I also really loved Andrew’s devotion and love of his sister Mari, who was a wonderful character, somebody I am not going to forget any time soon. The only thing I want to note is that the blurb states that Mari is a cancer patient and if you had a loved one battling cancer, consider the possibility that this book may upset you not because it was poorly handled, but because it was very realistically done IMO.
I am once again left with the thought that the good writer can make any plot trope, any character flaw (or almost any character flaw) shine for me. This book was just a joy to read and in the hands of lesser writer similar plot and characters could make me throw this book against the wall.