NineStar Press, $2.99, ISBN 978-1-951057-73-2
Contemporary Romance, 2019
Jessi Noelle’s Pulse of My Heart opens with a bang. Really.
Vince was breathing hard. Sweat beaded on his forehead and rolled downward, catching in his eyebrow as he groaned in pleasure and release.
“Holy shit, Mac,” he said as the twitching slowed, and he melted into the body under him. He nuzzled the ear of his partner and tenderly kissed the spot just below, where the neck melded into that beautiful head.
Wait, “melded”? Maybe I have seen too many body horror movies and read stories of that nature, but the image in my head is similar to the climactic orgy scene in that 1989 movie Society. I don’t want to spoil that movie further, but that scene is on YouTube should anyone be curious to see what I mean. Warning: that is a body horror film, so yes, it may not be for everyone!
Back to this one, the two truly go on and on.
“Mmm,” his partner purred, hips moving languidly around his trapped member and drawing another gasp of pleasure before releasing him. “Merry Christmas, my darling.”
Wait, what is happening? The guy’s pee-pee is trapped between his own hips? Did that thing get detached and fall between his thighs or something? Wait, maybe this is a body horror romance.
“Are you my night-before-Christmas present?” he asked. “Because I’m afraid that if I stir any creatures—even a mouse—I’ll find this sugarplum is a vision dancing in my head.” After the loss a year ago, and everything he’d been through since, this felt surreal.
If these men could make epic speeches like the above between the rumpy-pump-pumps, something tells me they aren’t enjoying the coitus act that much.
Mac gave him a coy look—the one that tugged sexy-feel threads in his chest—then flipped over beneath him and wrapped arms around his neck, lacing fingers through Vince’s short, butterscotch hair. “Sugarplum, huh? Ah, you do know how to flatter the guy below you who is still slightly incoherent from recent…activities.” He pulled Vince down for a kiss, tongue snaking out to lick the sweat off his lips and making Vince groan a little at the image. He cocked his head, raised his eyebrows, and Vince could feel himself stirring again, hardening against the leg resting on him.
Vince is the fireman, Mac is the journalist. Yes, this is another romance where one can tell who is the top and who is the bottom just from looking at the characters’ jobs. There is no such thing, after all, as a super thirsty hippo bottom of an alpha male—if you are big, strapping, and masculine, you’re going to be on top, no buts and no butts about that.
Vince looked down at him with wonder. “What did I do to deserve you? You’re so beautiful, and smart, and everything I’m not.”
Oh my god, what is happening? Am I supposed to slip into a sugar shock on the first page itself?
“Don’t get it twisted, darling,” he drawled as he framed Vince’s face between his hands, “I’m the lucky guy who snagged the hot firefighter who defines straight-up sexy, pardon the hetero pun.” Mac softly placed his lips on Vince’s, starting at his forehead and working his way slowly, so agonizingly slowly, down.
I don’t get the pun. Is that even a pun? And is that guy seriously going to go down on a pee-pee that had just been inside his chocolate alley? I don’t know if that would be considered kinky or a health violation.
In a flash of searing heat, Vince’s tenderness was replaced with hunger and need. Mac grinned wickedly at Vince’s growl of lust and flipped him over. He hovered above Vince, teasing, letting his breath fall on the sensitive places he’d found and wringing moans of frustration from the beautiful boy beneath him. When his tongue trailed over the bumps of Vince’s abs, the ticklish spot Mac found there caused him to squirm away. And when Mac’s lips engulfed his manhood, Vince lost the ability to form coherent thought.
What sensitive places is he yammering about? The guy’s neck? Vince is a fireman. I hope his neck isn’t sensitive to hot air or something, or else he would get an orgasm the moment he enters a burning building, and that would be tragic for the people inside the burning building. And yeesh, health violation. At least go rinse that thing in the bathroom first!
Everything dissolved into a blur of touch and taste and pressure and pleasure and friction and feeling.
Merry Christmas, indeed.
That is the opening chapter in its entirety. Oh boy.
The rest of the story goes back a few months, because the author is aiming for artistry in this thing. Vince is a fireman introduced in a scene that shows him dramatically saving a puppy. Now I am a dog person, but when I come across that, I roll up my eyes. The author is trying way too hard and too obviously to manipulate my feelings there. The rest of the story sees him and Aidan McGowan hitting up and corny-ing up the sheets in a romance so saccharine that it makes me fear for impending gangrene or something. Seriously, there are cute scarred dogs and all running around—this is a story that could send even the most die-hard Hallmark addict into sugar shock.
Also, the author has Mac addressed as Aidan as well in this story, and which name is used seems to depend on some algorithm only the author knows. Let’s just say that sometimes he’s Aidan, sometimes he’s Mac, and he cleans up pee-pees that have been inside his woo-wee with his own mouth. Then again, maybe he’d given himself a super-cleansing enema prior to the grand event, so he would only taste strawberries instead of E coli.
Pulse of My Heart resides firmly in the “gay romance written by women whose only exposure to gay men is through fanfiction” tier of artistry. It is, in fact, a textbook example of such a story, with sappy over the top sentimentality passed off as plot development, grown up men that behave more like Harry and Ron getting ready for their first sex scene, bizarre choreography of sex scenes, and conversations that resemble cringe-filled lines from a precocious teenager’s first attempt at slash. If there is anything pulsing in here. it sure isn’t the heart.