This is one of the most nice novella I read lately. And it's strange since usually I don't like BDSM story, but this one is a very slight shade of D / s play, so light that it's more a real "play" between the two men than a real lifestyle.
Luke is 23 years old and he is in love for the first time, even if he still doesn't know it; he is having a perfect relationship with Justin, an 18 years old boy he met in his usual hook up night club. They meet two days per week, on Wednesday and Saturday, and even if Justin in way younger of his usual dominant lovers, he is always able to make their encounter perfect. He is controlled and confident, he leads Luke with a skill that is almost too much for a boy his age; after sex, he is gentle and caring, and he is actually able to have a conversation other than during sex. He cares for Luke's ordinary life, he kindly asks how was his day, if he is tired or worried... Justin is perfect, too perfect.
Luke is a submissive, no doubt about it, but he feels inferior to Justin in everything, not only during sex. It's not right that Luke, older and more experienced, is always the first to come when they are having sex. Luke focuses on this point as the proof that he is not right for a man like Justin. If he is not able to outlast his lover during sex, he is not good to have a real relationship with him. With time, Justin will realize how inferior Luke is, and he will dump him. There are a lot of self-consciousness issues inside Luke that are boiling, and he is not able to overcome them; he is so full deep under them that he is risking the first and only good relationship he is having in years.
Justin maybe is the one that I found a bit too much unbelievable. I don't know, maybe it's only since, from my point of view, 18 years are too young to be so self-confident. Justin is independent, with a good work, a car, a good life, strong basis and positive attitude toward a steady and long term relationship... maybe too much for his age? But there are little chances that he is coming from a good and positive environment, from a supporting family that allows him to grew in the man he is now. If so, it's possible that he is so mature even at only 18 years old. Justin has that aurea around him, the aurea of a boy who is happy and comfortable with himself, an happiness that usually is something you haven't reached but it grew with you. And when the turning point of the story will reveal that yes, Justin is really an 18 years old boy, it's even nicer, since it will prove that he is not some aloof and detached sex machine.
The author is really good in rendering the feeling without making the story full of angst. Luke's issues are real, but he faces them with a light and funny attitude, almost all the time enjoying himself and being good for his lover. If there is a little pouting for not being able to last longer than Justin, it's soon forgotten when Justin cuddles him after sex. Overall the mood of the story is more fun than angst, but fun doesn't mean that the story is not well plotted and good developed; I find it's always a bonus when it happens in a novella, since I believe it's harder to plot and develop a good story in few pages than doing it in a full novel.
Amazon Kindle: You First (Perfect Timing)
Time To Do by Kim Dare
This is one of the most romantic love story I have read lately.
Brennan and Rigby are best friends since forever. It's not clearly said, but I have the feeling that they come from middle-class families that probably lived in the same neighborhood and their parents were probably friends. For all their life, where it was Brennan there was also Rigby: schools, holidays and now college, always together and more or less in the same house or room. Even in college they are roommate. Brennan is the wiser and Rigby the happier. Brennan is gay and Rigby is straight. When Brennan came out to his best friend, Rigby said, cool, lets go eat a pizza. Rigby is so comfortable around Brennan that it's not important for him that his best friend his gay; his love for Brennan goes beyond their gender. They love each other so much, that it's almost incestuous to think that something could happen between them.
While Rigby loves Brennan like a part of himself, Brennan is like a brother, better Brennan is a part of his past, present and future, Brennan loves Rigby like a gay man can love another man. Brennan compares every man in his life with Rigby, and every man looses in the comparison. So when Brennan finds a list by Rigby, a "things I have to do" type of list, and he reads that his friend is open to the chance to have sex with a man, Brennan jumps in: he offers to Rigby to be his training ship. Problem is that Rigby doesn't even remember the list, and when Brennan offers himself, it makes Rigby sees his best friend Brennan with different eyes. Brennan has never talked about sex with him even if he has always listened to Rigby's past experiences with girl. Till that moment, Rigby probably has never ever realized that Brennan has a sex life, and that sex life is something Rigby has no part in. It's some side of Brennan's life that he doesn't know, and he doesn't like that: Brennan is him, and he has no right to give himself to someone else.
Now, don't get me wrong, Rigby is not possessive of Brennan in a selfish way; probably if Brennan had a steady relationship with a good man, maybe Rigby could be fond of the idea. But what he is learning about Brennan is about one night stands with strangers in the backroom of some bar. This is no acceptable, Brennan is better than that. Rigby has really at heart Brennan's good, even more than Brennan himself. For example, while Brennan is willing to let Rigby experiment, for the chance to have at least some fond memories, Rigby feels that it's not right for Brennan. What I liked most is that Rigby didn't jump to the obvious conclusion without thinking, he pondered his choice: Rigby had some expectation on his future, a family, children, things that, if he plans a relationship with Brennan will have to change. But again Rigby proves to be more than the happy-to-go guy that he seemed at the beginning of the story: in a way he is way more wiser than Brennan.
The story is a perfect example of two favorite gay romance subgenre of mine, "Friends with Benefits" and "Gay for You". Rigby loves Brennan despite his gender, Rigby is not gay, but he is not even straight; he could be bisexual, but he is planning to have a monogamous relationship with Brennan... so what Rigby is? He is simply a man in love, a man that wants the best for his partner, even if the best for Brennan means that Rigby has to renounce to something he considered important. In the balance of life, Rigby arrives to the conclusion that it's better to follow his heart.
You probably have understood that I'm very fond of Rigby. It's not that Brennan is not a good character, I like also his mix of pretty boy who has the potential to be a strong man; I like how he was always basically faithful to Rigby, if not with his body at least with his heart. I like him above all since he was able to inspire such a devotion in a man like Rigby. But as I said, I think that Brennan is not so wise as he looks, that he really needs someone like Rigby beside him, someone who forces him to face the truth and not to hide; if left alone, Brennan tends to shield against the world closing himself in a ball and not letting anyone inside.
As I said, this is a very romantic story. I like the setting, College, I like how young the characters are, how everything is still possible for them. I like the feeling I had at the end of the story, that this two boys will become happy and strong men, and that probably the life will be good for them.
Amazon Kindle: Time To Do (Perfect Timing)
Amazon: Perfect Timing Vol 1
Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (October 7, 2009)