Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-61922-885-6
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Real World is an actual sequel to Off Campus. At least, that’s the impression I get, given that the main characters in these two stories have the same names. I have not read Off Campus – and I’m still not sure whether that makes me lucky or not – so do your best to overlook any mistakes I may have made in the plot summary.
So, Tom Worthington and Reese Anders are now together. One used to be a straight-acting jock, one is the sensitive, creative, forlorn type, and I’d leave you to guess which bloke is which from their names alone. (Hint: the jock isn’t named Reese, because that will break a stereotypical notion, and we can’t have that.) Tom, in addition to being a manly man, also has a troubled issue: his Ponzi-scheming father was arrested for killing someone while driving and now he is about to be released.
The author proceeds to go all social justice hee-haw on me:
Even someone as careless of staying on top of current events as Reese would hear Tom’s father was getting sprung from prison on an early-release program for nonviolent offenders making restitution to the community.
Minimal prison time was apparently one of the perks of being a rich white dude who had only destroyed lives by breaking people financially. Tom didn’t understand why his father should get off any lighter than someone who had killed people in a drunk-driving accident. Especially since his father hadn’t been drunk. He’d known exactly what he was doing the entire time, and didn’t regret a damn thing.
Hey, don’t roll up your eyes. These elements are very important, as we all know all those self-proclaimed trans genderfluid POC-kin white college kids reading this story from their safe spaces in their “No cis-white scums allowed!” dorms need to have their opinions validated 24/7. They will get very triggered otherwise, and they will then scream for everyone else to resign, and their mummies and daddies will get angry and withdraw their donations to their college. We really don’t want that to happen or the American education institution will face a total collapse.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the right for unfettered sodomy in safe spaces free from evil corporate-scum white daddies.
But first, an important interlude from Planet Cousins!
“I figure I gotta give her five or six years to get used to the idea, before I can wear her down enough to say yes,” Cash had told him. Heteronormative relationship rituals were so not Steph’s thing. “It’s a campaign of attrition, dude.”
Reading this story will help all those old geezers out there brush up on their modern lingo, and help them understand what all those brats are yammering about the next time they show up at Thanksgiving!
Tom is blue because his evil daddy is coming out of jail, and Reese is blue because his boyfriend is withdrawn and silent. Can these two find a way to… wait. Wait. What is this?
When he was done, Tom stood over Reese, looking down at him, so quiet and serious. Reese eyed his own pale, thin body, distorted under the smooth skin of water disturbed only by his breathing. He wondered sometimes what Tom saw when he looked at him. Because Reese liked his own face well enough, but his body was nothing special. Not like Tom’s glossy, golden muscles and strong limbs. Reese’s cock lay against his thigh, soft in the hot bath, and that didn’t look special either, although Reese liked the way his dick looked when it was hard. Strong, straight, with balls that didn’t distract from the main focus. He swished an arm through the water and broke the smooth surface, shattering his body into a hundred wobbly lines.
Excuse me, Ms Cousins? This is disgusting. For all that talk about celebrating non-heteronormity and buggery and down with white privilege thingy, WHAT IS THIS? Is Reese celebrating the disgustingly stereotypical, unrealistic body image perpetuated by misogynistic, transphobic, racist popular media that are run by cis-white males? Why aren’t we celebrating diversity? We should be featuring guys with tiny dicks in our stories, fat guys with tiny dicks and giant FUPAs! We must love guys with pasty white skin rather than tanned golden complexion, because assuming male beauty equates to only golden muscles is insensitive to people who live in Greenland and Antarctica, and don’t get me started with the whole “only good dicks are straight ones” thing. What if I have a crooked dick? I WILL BE SO TRIGGERED. I DEMAND THAT SAMHAIN PUBLISHING FIRE THE AUTHOR NOW. (PS: I need to pay rent, please send money to my Patreon account, thanks.)
On a more serious note, this story is basically an epilogue to Off Campus, and it exists to confirm that these two are perfectly, deliriously happy together forever and ever. It doesn’t have much tension or plot, so, as someone who have never read the previous story, I don’t have much emotional investment in this. I’m amused by all the superficial checklist-ticking of Tumblr values, but I don’t really care whether these two stay together or break up. They are basically stereotypes anyway, so hey, if even a truck runs them down, there are many more similar couples to read about.
Still, I can’t be too down on a story with a line like this:
Blowjobs didn’t fix everything, but they sure did put a guy in a better mood for spending the day, the week, on spreadsheets and Excel formulas.