Rating: 4.5/10 Title: Blue Collar: A Torquere Press Taste Test
Authors: Mychael Black, Laney Cairo, Jay Lygon, Angelia Sparrow
Genre: Gay erotica
URL: Torquere Press
Other Information/warnings: Explicit m/m sex
Summary [from the publisher]: Blue collar boys are all about playing as hard as they work. That’s the idea behind this Taste Test. From truckers to dock workers and bike mechanics, these boys are all about greasing up and getting down.
My Review: A collection from Torquere Press that features a diverse group of authors, Blue Collar is a pleasant enough diversion into the world of the working man and the men who love and/or one night stand them. The four stories here represent a variety of styles and tones and some certainly worked for me better than others, with two of the four pieces clearly standing out. While I personally would have liked to see a broader swath of blue-collar men (the stories here deal primarily with characters in and/or connected to the trucking or automotive field), the collection as a whole — though a tad uneven for me– was a fine way to pass an hour or so.
COMING OFF THE ROAD by Mychael Black
Who hasn’t missed their honey when they’ve been on the road for a long time? That’s the premise that launches Mychael Black’s Coming of the Road, with Kelly — who works the bays for a trucking company — pining for his lover Isiah, a long-haul trucker who has been on the road far to long for either’s taste.
Black certainly captures the pent up passion a separation can bring about. He provides a plethora of sex in a short seven pages, with masculine characters and enough bulges and throbs to fill a much longer work. However, for me, when the story was done, I didn’t really know much about these lovers (except they know how to get it on) and their eight years together, resulting in an emotional disconnect for me and no way to really distinguish between the two characters. I personally wanted to know the romance — the little things in their life besides hard cocks — that ties them together. Black attempts to bring some of this together in the end, with Isiah surprising Kelly with a gift, but for me the gift was so closely tied to the sex that it didn’t really reveal much more. All in all, though, for those looking for non-stop sweaty action, this is absolutely the piece for you.
CLASSIC by Laney Cairo
Trey is a bike mechanic, specializing in the servicing, repair and customization of all manner of machines. When a leather-clad stranger rides into his shop on a classic BWM Boxer, the two take it and each other out for a road test.
Cairo certainly knows her bikes, laying out details of the Beemer with an eroticism that gives makes one long for a little chrome and some serious power between you legs. Add in the tall, mysterious, and hot Stranger, and the piece also takes on a slight Man With No Name feel, evoking an almost old-fashioned western feel without resorting to horses and cowboy hats that can sometime be a cliché.
Though not the most multi-faceted, the characters are very appealing and the sex is well done. What makes this one of the two-standout pieces of the collection is the erotic descriptions of the bike countered with the passion of the men. There’s only one criticism I would have of the piece. I wish the author had trusted that her metaphor was strong enough to carry the piece. Too often, after a loving description of the bike or its required maintenance, the characters fall into a clumsy pointing out of the double entendre (I can do it quickly, but I’d rather strip everything back, examine it closely, then replace all the lubricant. — Followed by I’m all in favour of lubrication.). The author clearly meant this as flirtatious, but had already accomplished such with their talk of the bike. All in all, a very nice entry with an interesting style that makes me want to know where else Cairo can go.
RIDING OFF INTO THE SUNSET by Jay Lygon
Still recovering from dumping his boyfriend, drummer boy Tim decides that his band mates are right: a gig in Los Angeles is the perfect remedy to jolt him out of his Christmastime depression. So he hits the road in a beat up van. But somewhere between Buckeye, Arizona and Blythe, California, the expected happens and the van breaks down. Luckily, a stranger Tim nicknames “Cowboy” is more than willing to help the boy out.
Clearly, the standout piece, Lygon’s entry is filled with very interesting characters and an atmosphere and tone that are subtly provided and rich in character-building detail (Anyone whose ever driven between Buckeye and Blythe will smile at the description).
In the old days, this would have been termed a DF story — delayed fuck — as the fun is in the tension created wondering if and how the two characters will get down to it. But unlike the DF movies and literature of the past, you absolutely do get to see the two get together and the time Lygon spends setting up the story pays off well in the end. Lygon also uses quick asides to help create the character of Tim. Now, sometimes in stories this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Here it works very well, each second-long interlude giving us insight into whom Tim is, what his insecurities might be. The result is a very dynamic character. Lygon skimps a little on the details for “Cowboy,” which renders him a little more one-dimensional but gives him a very nice mysterious air about him. As the story progresses, we do learn more, and “Cowboy” does indeed become a fuller character. Lygon also peoples the short with the other two band member who — though skimpy on details — are very appealing, leaving you wanting to know if there is more to be told about this band.
There are only two minor problems I had with the piece. I, personally, could see how the two characters were going to get together coming from a mile away. It doesn’t really detract from the story and — frankly — I don’t know how this could have been made less obvious. Second, and a little bit more jarring for me is the character of Tim itself. While extremely likeable, there are times that his character takes on more of a feminine feeling. Not that the character is effeminate in a twink sort of way, but at times I felt I was reading a female character rather than a male character. Even given this reaction, however, I still found Tim — and his band mates — interesting character that I wouldn’t mind visiting with again.
HOT LOAD by Angelia Sparrow
Long-haul trucker Glenn pulls into a roadside rest area and meets John, another trucker, and the two decide that a little action certainly couldn’t hurt. So, they park their trucks near one another’s and decide to have some fun in the cab of John’s rig. But has Glenn just made the biggest mistake in his life? Or has he just been handed a unique opportunity to better his station in life.
Like Cairo before her, Sparrow certainly knows her world and she writes it well, with a style that is initially intriguing and so rich in detail you can practically smell the diesel and feel the fatigue of the truckers. But as a story, the piece suffers from a couple of lapses in logic (18 wheelers are quite loud, especially when parked so closely to one another; Glenn’s website) and the ending relies very heavily on a damn-near deus ex machina that seems completely unrealistic in the very realistic world Sparrow has created. The latter seems almost tacked on to give a semblance of an HEA.
While the sex here is quick and relies at times on clumsy double entendre, it is satisfying enough, but the logical leaps I had to take as a reader were beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief. I wish my introduction to Sparrow had been a different story as I really felt there is some interesting writing going on here and a lot of potential. Despite excellent world building and some fluid prose, the piece just couldn’t over come the logical flaws for me.