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Fifteen Shades of Gay (For Pay) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
4.5 stars rounded to 5.
I extremely disliked the title of this book. It reflects the story pretty well, but if I had not seen the good reviews on Goodreads, I would have never picked it up, because I thought it was a parody of that book that must not be named. It is just my personal dislike - I do not want any book I like to have any association with that book . As I said, it definitely fits the story, but I thought that the writer who seemed to have such great writing skills (just look at that awesome blurb!) could have found another one which fitted the story too.
Fortunately the title is the only thing I really disliked about this book. The writing is vivid and engaging, both main characters have some pretty serious flaws and still the writer managed to make them likeable for this reader. The relationship between a closeted politician and a prostitute/escort is of course not a new set up in mm romance, but I thought that the book took the old trope and made it its own.
Both Andre and Cormac have flaws. I mean, I certainly never expected to like a closeted republican politician like Cormac - I could never blame any character or person in real life for being in the closet, but I certainly cannot stand hypocrites and boy, did Cormac look like one to me several times in the story. And I still loved him. I believed that he had a good heart, I got the reasons why he was so messed up and I believed that he wanted to do better.
In a sense Andrew was even more interesting to me. To tell you the truth I did not exactly expect to like him either, because "uncomfortable around gay men" according to the blurb IMO is the deeply understated characterization of how and what Andrew felt about gay men, something I also usually have no patience for in fiction or real life. Having said that, Andrew absolutely was not the character I expected him to be based on the blurb.
You know how often you read a book you think that character acts irrationally but your impression just does not match what the writer is trying to convey?
Well, I think in this book the writer conveyed the theme of the good person acting irrationally, explained why and made Andrew very sympathetic to me. I really loved Andrew and thought he and Cormac made a wonderful couple.
I also really loved Andrew's devotion and love of his sister Mari, who was a wonderful character, somebody I am not going to forget any time soon. The only thing I want to note is that the blurb states that Mari is a cancer patient and if you had a loved one battling cancer, consider the possibility that this book may upset you not because it was poorly handled, but because it was very realistically done IMO.
I am once again left with the thought that the good writer can make any plot trope, any character flaw (or almost any character flaw) shine for me. This book was just a joy to read and in the hands of lesser writer similar plot and characters could make me throw this book against the wall.
I liked this M/M romance a lot.
Like many others I was initially put off by its title and I only downloaded it because of the reviews stating it had little to do with the notorious serial whose title it copies. The above mentioned notorious serial actually makes a cameo appearance disguised as the one read by the lead's ill sister but that is about all there is to it, luckily for everyone.
First, writing is fairly good. There is the random typo, the clumsy turn of phrase but they are few and do not disrupt the reading experience.
The plot is tight, believable and realistic without being too gritty, especially not in the hospital scenes.
The treatment of Marie's illness manages a correctly sombre tone but it is not depressing and this is no mean feat. I particularly loved the few barbs aimed at the inhuman Usonian healthcare system.
The love story is heart-warming without being sappy.
Characterization is probably the main asset.
Side characters are all good with the possible exception of Andrew's and Marie's father who is sometimes a little too close to the caricature. Cormac's friends could have used more development to better flesh out the story.
Andrew and Cormac are just loveable. They feel real and alive with all their faults and weaknesses. The POV belonging exclusively to Andrew I feel Cormac's personality would have needed more dialogues to be fully developed.
What I feel is the book's main fault lies in some hurried psychological transitions, some of them quite major.
- First of all, how on Earth is Andrew thinking about a job as a male escort for gay men if he is that uncomfortable around gay people? How does it happen? Why not working as an escort for women instead? Romance is often about two people pushed together by unlikely circumstances but those circumstances should be deftly treated.
- Second, there is a huge loophole between Andrew's first gig and his later assignments. One moment he is nearly sick just for having to be physically close to a gay man, soon after he is performing sexual acts (I cannot give too many details without spoilers) like an experienced prostitute. How he manages to overcome the worst of his fear and to actually enjoy them remains unexplained.
- The relationship between Andrew and his father evolves (once again I cannot give too many details) without their having had the necessary meaningful conversations. The hostility Andrew feels against him not for being gay but for abandoning his family is never addressed.
These are those I can recall but there were several less significant ones that peppered the whole plot.
As a side note I feel I must point out to the author (a lady) that while her gay sex scenes are generally well done, it is usually impossible for inexperienced men (and for most experienced ones) to enjoy gay sex without lubrification. The pain is excruciating...
I should probably have taken one more star from the rating but on the whole this romance is compelling and reads with little effort.
Andrew stole my heart and Marie is such a spit-fire, I wanted her to pull through (even if I knew that was a one in one thousandth chance). And Cormac? Oh Cormac! A log cabin Republican who doesn't consider himself to be one because he is so hidden in the closet, he doesn't know how to come out!
It is a basic story: Andrew, an aspiring actor, lives in NYC and is taking care of his sick sister who is (unfortunately) dying from breast cancer. He can't get a part to save his life so he decides to work as a male escort and this is how he meets Cormac, a closeted gay Republican politician who resides in the sunny state of California.
There are so many different facets to this book, including Paresh, a character who wins me over in the end and a host of other support characters who make this book worth reading. The great part about this book is none of the characters, no matter how big or small their roles are, seem like cardboard cutouts. Everyone is a real, living breathing entity. I feel like I could know these people and because the author makes the characters so real, no one is all good or all bad. T. Baggins shows humans in all our glory.
All the characters are flawed but so are we, as people. There is an HEA and after everything Andrew and Cormac are put through, I smiled when they were finally able to be together. The moral of this story: to thine own self be true.
P.S. Am I hoping too much for a sequel?
***I received an ARC for an honest review of this novel from the author***