elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

One Shot by Rowan McBride

I'm not new to the "muscle growth" books by Rowan McBride, but everytime I'm in awe at how enthralled they made me. There is something in this play of contraposition, a big strong body that can overshadow another smaller one, but at the same time being a protection against the world... I don't know, I think it's my kink. Actually I have always loved the story where the male partner is bigger than the female one, in het romance it's easy to find, not so much in manlove. With her exaggeration of the muscle growth, and sometime the aid of paranormal events, Rowan McBride makes it possible also in man on man couple, and I drink these stories all at once.

This time the author chooses to give almost a possible explanation to the sudden change in shape of both main characters: a flu shot with some unexpected consequences. Nick is the prodigy kid in a big firm, at 27 years old he is already head of his department; Nick is also the perfect boss, sure of his value, he is not worried in share his passion for work with his colleagues, helping them in improving their work. Nick has no problem at work, but it's not the same at a personal level; I think Nick is probably shy, he doesn't see himself as a man with something to give in a relationship, he thinks that his only value lies in how good a job he can do. And so he is blind to people around him searching his attention. Like Riley, the new kid on the blog.

Riley is not much younger than Nick, only 4 years old, but the difference seems bigger since Nick doesn't allow him near than necessary. Looking at Riley, so young and innocent, it's like looking at a mirror, Riley is too similar to Nick and it scares him: if Riley is weak, so is Nick. And then Riley is Nick's subordinate, and nothing between them can happen, no matter how pretty Riley is.

Then the flu shot, and the different reaction it has on Riley, who grows bigger and confident, and Nick, who instead loses height. The small advantage Nick had on Riley, being a little bit older and a little bit taller, disappears and Riley starts to becoming more and more demanding, for attention and maybe something else. And Nick, that wasn't so sure of himself even before, is not forced to face a difficult truth: he desires Riley, and more Riley is big and strong and more Nick wants him.

Before their change in size, I think Nick liked Riley as you can like a pretty pet, but not love. Nick needed and wanted someone different, if not bigger than him in size, at least in age or social status. So maybe Greg, an older colleague to whom Nick always looked as example, could have been the right man. Riley wasn't really that man, he was younger, smaller in body, he gained less money... it's not that Nick is shallow, it's only that he needs a man he can look up to. But Nick has underestimated Riley, the young man is not so simple as he believes, and he has a plan.

I like how complex and interesting both men are, even if probably Nick has the lion share. He comes really out of the page, his little idiosyncrasies, the useless worries, how he can easily influenced by the smallest events. Nick projects an aura of self-assurance, but he is a good liar, he loves so much numbers and statistics since in them he can find that security that he lacks in life, the number doesn't lie, and they are more sure than real life.

And the there is Riley, who seems always so sure, thanks to his physical strength, but who then, in the end, is only a 24 years old guy in love. Actually he is not so different from Nick, and since Nick needs that difference to consider a partner, without the muscle growth, Riley would have never had been a chance. Again, it's not that Nick is shallow, it's a natural thing, like a selection: Nick is searching someone stronger than him to fill a void he feels, the only chance Riley has with him is to fill that void.

One Shot seems apparently an easy and light story, but I think that it's really a psychological study: Nick is so complex and detailed that I had trouble to let him go at the end of the story, I arrived to the last page not wanting to turn it since I knew I wouldn't have had anything more to read.


The Rainbow Awards: First Week results: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/811346.html

Cover Art by P.L. Nunn
Tags: author: rowan mcbride, genre: contemporary, length: novel, review, theme: office affairs

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