Dreamspinner Press, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-935192-77-0
Contemporary Romance, 2009
Aww, aren’t we all cute today? Meet Sam and Hank. Sam is a studious sixteen year old jock who has no idea that he’s gay. Clearly it’s because he hasn’t read enough gay romances from randy digital publishers because if he has, he would have realized that he is a walking volume in the Encyclopedia of Gay Clichés in Romance. Hank is the new kid who has a car and is destined to be a hit with the ladies.
We then move forward a few years in the story so that Sienna Bishop won’t get arrested for writing kiddie porn. Sam realizes that he’s getting an arousal from watching what he shouldn’t when he spies on Hank getting it on with some icky woman, so wa-hey, the closet door is threatening to break open. But he’s convinced that Hank is a determined connoisseur of tuna so he is afraid to introduce Hank to a new kind of diet. You’d think that the fact that Hank enjoys getting naked and doing it to icky women in front of Sam will mean something, but as I’ve said, clearly Sam hasn’t been reading enough stories from Torquere Press and, of course, Dreamspinner Press. Heck, at the rate we are going, clearly Sam hasn’t even been visiting the Nifty Erotic Stories Archive as often as he should have.
Still, I have to say this: I find this story very sweet, actually, even if it is so clichéd that a blind man could have mapped this story out without the aid of Braille. There is a strong element of tenderness and friendship in the relationship between Hank and Sam that feels real enough to convince me that the whole thing may just work well even if these two are, at the end of the day, young kids. Likable kids, yes, but still, a little too young to be telling me that they are going to have something really good.
You can probably guess at my problem with this story. It’s a common one, one that I have grumbled about many times before. Yes, the guys in this story don’t act like realistic jocks their age. They come off more like sensitive emo young girls to me. Ms Bishop does try to make her jocks behave and talk “manly” at various times here, but such efforts only end up making me cringe because they are so artificial and far from realistic. Will gay romance ever get the male characters right? Well, in this story, not really. Maybe one day, perhaps.