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An Unhappily Married Man
Michael Maguire’s love life has always lacked … something. His wife is cold, his children are distant, and he’s desperate for one night of self-indulgence. One night of real pleasure. So he heads to notorious Brixton Park seeking a prostitute, so divorced from his own needs, he isn’t even sure of his type.
A Rent Boy
James Campbell is one trick away from life on the street. Trapped in the world’s oldest profession, he long ago gave up on breaking free. When he sees Michael on a bench in Brixton Park, he doesn’t take no for an answer. James knows he can provide all the pleasure an unhappy, repressed man needs.
That first night leads to an affair so deep, so honest and challenging, neither Michael nor James can predict its end. Each tryst brings them a little closer, sampling every kind of pleasure until nothing is off the table. Not even love…
I’m beginning to suspect that I’m in denial and do have a rent boy kink going on after all, what with the heaps of Pretty Woman books I’ve been reading lately. But perhaps sex workers are just a huge thing in the M/M genre in general? (yeah, no, that was not really a question). This book follows the pattern that is to be expected of the trope and yet is…Something Different indeed.
This book both impressed and underwhelmed me. Several aspects of the story I think were handled really well by the author. The MC’s, a sexually repressed dad to two teens caught in a loveless and sexless marriage, road to self-discovery and happiness is interesting. Not because there is anything original about a (perceived) straight man falling head over heels with a rent boy he picks up in a park one night. No, he’s a peculiar character. Not particularly sympathetic and almost robotic in the way he goes through life, yet you’ll find yourself rooting for him when he confidently reaches out for glimmers of happiness. Although this is not a depressing read at all, there’s something bittersweet about it. It makes Something Different feel ‘real’ as opposed to a merry-go-lucky fairytale.
There were a few things that threw me. Stuff you don’t usually come across when picking up a book that follows this trope. The un-PC way in which the MCs handle the risk of STD’s might raise an eyebrow, but these two are obviously not alone in their approach. Again, this makes their story feel more real. Less appealing I found the portrayal of the MC’s wife, who’s painted as a bitter and cold woman. I don’t have any hang ups about cheating in my reads, but I tend to dislike when the MC is provided with an excuse by turning his spouse into a villain.
And then there is the ‘dirty talk’ that didn’t really gel with me. Showers are not a mandatory thing for me in books, but somehow frank references to feces are still a bridge to far… Then again, I usually just bury my head in the sand when it comes to the specifics of, let’s say, bare-backing MCs on crisp, white sheets after a day of hiking followed by a copious meal consisting of burritos with black-bean salsa. Here, certain comments made by the MCs managed to pop my bubble of squeaky cleanness. More uncomfortable are the recollections of abuse, endured by one of the MCs while in his teens (trigger warning!). Baggins takes no prisoners when it comes to describing these scenes. Although short, they are hard to swallow because of their explicit nastiness, but undeniably well-written.
If you haven’t read anything else by this author I’d recommend starting with the excellent Protection or, if you like your reads a little fluffier, Fifteen Shades of Gay. Compared to Baggins’ other works – and this was the last book by her I hadn’t read yet — this one fell just short of the mark for me.
Susan – 2.5 stars
Title: Something Different
Author: T. Baggins (also known under the name S.A. Reid)
Publisher: Lyonnesse Books
Pages: 112 pages
Release Date: October 1st 2011
Purchase Links: AllRomanceebooks