Beaten Track Publishing, $0.99, ISBN 978-1-78645-266-5
Contemporary Romance, 2018 (Reissue)
Say hello to Niall. He stutters, acts like the most sensitive snowflake ever, and has only his dog Zen for company—not in that way, people, this isn’t a werewolf romance, alright—ever since he had his heart broken ages ago. Oh, and he’s gay. British too—this story is set in the UK. Seriously, with these traits, Niall may as well has “BOTTOM” tattooed on his forehead. Oh, and yes, he is one. Am I psychic, or am I just exposed to too many gay romance clichés?
Well, our hero will get to let his hair down when a much younger man, Zak, moves into the neighborhood. He’s American, outgoing, manly, fresh out of college, talks a lot, and has “sapphire” eyes. I do an image search to see what a man with gems stuffed into the eye sockets look like, and get distracted by all the lovely, gory, Lovecraftian images that showed up. Uh, anyway, these two interact a lot, and I actually like how these two don’t jump into bed right away. The author has them doing little things together, building the relationship up like an old-fashioned romantic movie, and the whole thing is more sweet than sexy.
Now, this is going to get me some angry emails, I suspect, but oh my god, after a while, I keep wanting to shout Not a Word to Niall myself. Just like how it becomes exasperating to read of a constantly pausing heroine in a Barbara Cartland novel, I feel like screaming after following a few dozen pages of Niall’s stuttering. Each time he stutters over a word, I find myself holding my breath, waiting for him to get the word out, and I can only take so much of this breath-holding every few seconds before I have to put this story down and do something else.
Also, I find this story a little hard to believe. You see, I’m an introvert, which explains why I have a website and not a YouTube channel. Yes, also I have a stutter that plagues me at the most inconvenient moment since I was a teenager. Here’s the thing: this story will be believable had it been set in the 1970s or 1980s, when there is no Internet like it is today. Ever since I went online, being an introvert never really mattered when it comes to meeting people; in fact, it’s so much easier for me to socialize online than offline. Also, the Internet connects me to people that share hobbies and interests that would make my real life neighbors scratch their heads, and it also allows me to express myself and be creative. So yes, while I think I would likely end up like Niall if I ever were that pathetic in those days, I find it hard to believe that Niall would be what he is in the era of Internet and what not, unless he really is that pathetic.
This guy is so socially awkward that he behaves like the junior in the relationship, instead of Zak, and he seems to have absolutely zero personality aside from all those clichéd traits that mark him on page one itself as the quivering bottom waiting for the manly man hero’s throbbing pee-pee to finally make him realize what being a
woman bottom feels like. In other words, Not a Word feels way too much like every other slash story written by a woman that does all her research through mainstream TV shows and Twitter.
Seriously, Niall, not another word. Mummy has had enough, and she’d like to take a rest now.