While the books we feature on the blog are what we read most of the time, you will definitely find a couple of our shelves filled with more adultish type books. Scandalous books. Books with a little more smex, and perhaps a kink or two. We know these books and reviews aren’t for everyone, which is why we’ve decided to post these “after hours.”
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: May 7, 2012
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Forty-five-year-old English professor Nathan Qells is very good at making people feel important. What he’s not very good at is sticking around afterward. He’s a nice guy; he just doesn’t feel things the way other people do. So even after all the time he’s spent taking care of Michael, the kid across the hall, he doesn’t realize that Michael’s mob muscle uncle and guardian, Andreo Fiore, has slowly been falling in love with him.
Dreo has bigger problems than getting Nate to see him as a potential partner. He’s raising his nephew, trying to leave his unsavory job, and starting his own business, a process made infinitely more difficult when a series of hits takes out some key underworld players. Still, Dreo is determined to build a life he can be proud of—a life with Nate as a cornerstone. A life that is starting to look like exactly what Nate has been looking for. Unfortunately for Dreo—and for Nate—the last hits were just part of a major reorganization, and Dreo’s obvious love for Nate has made him a target too.
Mary Calms is a new to me m/m author. I’ve read several great recommendations on an a previous release of hers, Frog, and I thought if I was ever given the chance to check her out, I’d definitely take it. I’m too cheap to buy a book by an author I’ve never read before, especially in this genre, so when I saw Acrobat on Netgalley, I took it as a sign. I actually finished this last night, so for once I’m writing the review with the story fresh on my mind. It’s so much easier to write the review right after I read a book, and I have no idea why I don’t make this a habit. Chalk it up to my insanity, I guess.
If I were to have a gay man as a best friend, I’d want him to be exactly like Nate. He was described as a “swiss army knife friend” and based on what I read in the book, that’s an apt description. He’s an English Lit professor, and has so many varied interests and can hang out with anyone and have something to talk about. His students love him, his department loves him, and his best friends are his ex-wife Melissa and her husband, Ben. How many people can say that about an ex? He’s very handsome and never has any trouble finding dates, he’s just never met a man that he loves passionately and would be willing to give everything up for. He’s 45, has a 27 year old son he and Melissa conceived one drunken night in college, and is a sort of parent to his 16 year old neighbor, Michael. Michael lives with his uncle, Dreo, after his mother died four years ago and Dreo gained custody of him. Nate fills in the gaps with Michael when Dreo is working by helping Michael with his homework, giving him a place to hang out if Dreo’s not around, and taking him to culteral events like the opera for extra credit at school. Nate and Dreo have said maybe 20 words to each other in all their time of “sharing” Michael, and Nate has never looked at him more than just Michael’s uncle.
Dreo is the muscle for the local mob boss, and has been in love with Nate from afar ever since they first met. Dreo knows that in order to be a proper guardian to Michael and worthy of Nate’s love, he needs to get out of the business. He’d already told his boss he was done, when tragedy happens and Dreo is almost killed during a shoot-out, resulting in his boss’s death. He turns to Nate for solace and comfort, and Nate is shocked to discover that Dreo is gay, when he’s only ever seen him with women. Dreo is unlike any man Nate has ever been with. He refuses to allow Nate to play his usual games that allow him to keep his distance from his partners. Dreo also proves to be the dominant of the two, even though he’s the younger man, which cinches the deal for Nate. And when I say younger, I mean way younger. He’s 28 to Nate’s 45. Nate struggled a bit with the age difference at first (as did I), but Dreo convinced him that he doesn’t care and doesn’t think of him as too old.
When Dreo finally convinces Nate to take a chance on them, it’s beautiful and wonderful but isn’t without it’s hurdles. Dreo will never fully be out of the mob business, and being gay and upfront about it angers a lot of the more traditional mob guys. Add in an ex of Nate’s that refuses to let go, and Nate and Dreo have quite a bit to overcome to reach their happily ever after.
Acrobat is told soley from Nate’s POV, which made it a little hard to get to know Dreo. They didn’t actually decide to start a romantic relationship until about halfway through the book, right after a heavy make-out session in a laundry room (super hot!). I thought their relationship happened a little too quickly. The only real build-up was their passing conversation when Dreo came to pick Michael up, or they’d run into each other walking in or out of their building. Nate didn’t even know Dreo was gay until he practically jumped him in the laundry room. While I was happy Dreo wanted absolute commitment, they moved pretty quickly into saying “I love you” and then moving in together at the end of the novel. It was a bit jarring, actually, how they went from zero to sixty in what seems like just two pages.
I also had a few issues with the author’s writing and choices in a few parts of the story. There was a general undertone of femininity throughout the book, which bled over into Nate’s character and how he sometimes acted and spoke. Even the more flamboyant, effeminate gay characters I’ve read were still manly. I can only imagine how difficult it is for a woman to write a book from a man’s perspective – and a gay man’s at that – but I want to forget who the author is and concentrate on the story. Also, there were a few parts in the story where Nate acted immature for his age, and I had a hard time remembering he was in his mid-40′s. I don’t think 45yr old men should be stuffy and boring, but Nate should have known what was appropriate and what wasn’t. In one scene, Nate is hiding from an annoying professor in his department behind the desk of a female co-worker, and while she’s talking to the annoying guy trying to steer him away, Nate blows up her skirt. I know he’s gay, but it’s still the workplace and it was awkward and inappropriate as a reader. I don’t know, maybe I have more personal boundaries in the workplace than others do or something. In his own quiet way, Nate was outrageous but sometimes he carried it a little too far. Or the author took it too far, I guess I should say.
My Summary: Besides the few issues, I liked the story in general. I liked Nate, and I was glad he found someone he could finally relax with and let in. Dreo was sexy and mysterious, but I didn’t have as great a connection with him as I did with Nate. He just wasn’t in the story enough to make that connection. The dialogue was a bit hokey in places, and I lost my reading rhythm a few times when random things cropped up that seemed out of place. I’m glad I didn’t buy the book, but I was entertained and this was a solid middle-of-the-road read for me.
My Rating: B