Liquid Silver Books, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-62210-263-1
Contemporary Romance, 2015
A guy who is almost a priest walks into a bar… Okay, there is no punchline, as that is the premise of Cecil Wilde’s Pleasures of the Flesh.
I’m not sure when in the present is this story set in, but Elias, our almost-priest hero, apparently cannot hide his sexuality any longer so he decides to just drop everything and flee the priesthood. I thought these days people can leave the priesthood is a somewhat reasonable manner, such as applying for dispensation or, if they can’t wait, just walking out to get shagged and be happy.But Elias acts like he’d left behind a room full of dead bodies when he fled. At any rate, he stumbles upon a bar with a hot guy, Seth, in a small town with happy, accepting people that will help Elias puts his demons to rest.
You may assume that the title would suggest that this is a hot story, but it is actually a pretty tame story of the angst-ridden dude who finds peace and love in a small town. It is very talk-heavy, and this can be a problem if you’re the kind of reader who can’t stand it when the author tries to use every word but “said” unless it is an absolute must to do so. Hence, characters swallowed, cleared their throats, licked their lips, and generally act rather deranged in between conversations. The author doesn’t even vary things much, so characters just keep doing the same things back to back. Several characters cleared their throats once after another while talking on one page, while on another page, one guy just keeps reaching out to Elias. I guess Elias just keeps taking a step back or something, because that hand never seems to be able to reach him. When such things happen, the characters all resemble mechanical toys programmed to do the same thing one after another. Cute for a few seconds, but distracting after a while.
Pleasures of the Flesh is at its core a simplistic sweet story that can get hammy and even heavy-handed with its message of acceptance and such. Everyone is so nice and sympathetic to Elias, and Seth must be one of the best boyfriends ever – so sensitive, patient, and understanding – so the whole thing feels like an excuse to play on my heart strings and make me go all droopy-eyed for Elias, surely one of the most contrived wounded doe characters I’ve come across in a while.