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Sometimes you can’t see the silver lining for the clouds.
Abandoned as a baby and now working as a rent boy, Daniel finds it hard to let people get close to him. But nightclub bouncer Rob has a kind face and he’s helped Daniel out once already, so when he catches Daniel on a bad night, Daniel accepts his offer of money and goes home with him.
Even though it breaks his heart.
Letting Rob pay him for sex may have wrecked their friendship just when Daniel needs all the friends he can get. But there are more reasons why he hasn’t seen Rob since that night — and one in particular that makes building a relationship seem almost too much to hope for.
Well, oops. I couldn’t find the number of pages for this story, but having just read Merrow’s short rentboy story Raising The Rent, I anticipated this one to be of similar length. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Making it Pay is actually only approximately 10 pages short (the actual story minus the bio etc.). It’s therefore way too short to be reviewed for Boys in our Books. But honestly, I feel bad for looking a given horse — or in this particular case: a Shetland pony — in the mouth, so I’ll make an exception this time.
So let’s start by saying that I’m not someone who avoids short stories. In the hands of a crafy author, every word can add atmosphere and meaning and even the shortest stories can pack a punch. But I also need to be realistic here, few people will be rocked off their socks by a 10 pages short formula story about a poor and troubled rentboy and his knight in shining armor, a client. As always, there’s Merrow’s signature writing to enjoy, the lovely Britishness, the easily flowing dialogue… But there’s no room for character development. Neither is there space to establish something that resembles a believable connection between the MCs. And worse, I completely managed to miss that ‘ thing’ the rentboy (and narrator) of Making It Pay struggled with most. So when the bomb got dropped suddenly, I had to browse back to pick up on the clues.
This is just me pondering….I just noticed that it’s on Amazon for 3 (!) dollars… And a version of this short story first appeared in the Dreamspinner Sindustry anthology, under the title ‘Sunshine’. Making It Pay is apparently around 10% longer than the previously published version. Oh-kay…I don’t understand why a 10 pages story would be published individually instead of including it in another book as a bonus, or perhaps offering it for free on the author’s website to boost traffic or create buzz for an upcoming release.
Oh well, recommended for hardcore Pretty Woman/Cinderfella and Merrow fans. It won’t leave much of an impression, but it’ll be a pleasant enough 5 minutes.
Title: Making It Pay
Author: J.L. Merrow
Publisher: JMS Books
Release Date: November 16th 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon