Author: Kit Zheng
Genre: mystery, erotica
URL: Aspen Mountain Press
Price: US $6.99
Other Information/warnings: violence, domination, humiliation, explicit sexual content
Summary [from the publisher]:
Escort Tomas and homicide detective Vic have been together three years and expect many more–until Vic’s case, a string of hustler murders, hits too close to home. While Vic grows more tense and distant, Tomas finds himself increasingly tangled in the erotic games of a client, Jon, who plays on Tomas’s most secret needs. When the killer strikes at the club where Tomas works as a dancer, everything spins into a dizzying mix of sex and love, miscommunication and murder.
Can they stop the killer before things go horribly wrong? Or are they already too late?
My review (spoilers ahoy!):
I have a confession to make. Ms Zheng sent this book to me over a month ago, and I read it then, but my reaction was so much not what I expected from an work by an author I normally enjoy, I didn’t know what to do. It didn’t help that the reaction to this book in other quarters has been universally favourable, although I very often don’t agree with those quarters.
But the long and short of it is that I read it again, and I still had problems. So, bearing in mind that my reaction seems to be atypical, I have no choice but to say, I really didn’t like this story.
Why? For a start, I don’t like infidelity, and while Vic was allegedly fine with Tomas’s job (although he wasn’t really), it made me squirm. I hated the way Tomas would come back from a session with Jon and crawl into bed with Vic unwashed. It seemed so…insensitive and cruel.
But even setting that aside, Tomas and Vic behave like idiots. They don’t talk. They run away from each other. Tomas books an all nighter with Jon, who’s clearly an abusive sadist who doesn’t respect or understand the concept of real consent – which leads to my other big, big ick about this story. The scenes between Tomas and Jon are supposed to be erotic, but all I could think was that Tomas hadn’t really consented at all. Being paid while being coerced by threats to his job or his friends or even Vic, isn’t a replacement. This isn’t BDSM. It verges on actual rape. This isn’t erotic to me.
The same lack of credibility infused the rest of the story. Jon’s bahviour at work towards Vic didn’t make sense, neither did his obsession about remaining closeted. Vic and Tomas seemed to have a very tenuous basis for their relationship, one which falls apart at the first nudge. They all felt like people playing roles to which they were ill-suited, forced down paths of behaviour that the author needed rather than what grew organically from the characters themselves.
The writing was also less smooth than I expected from this author, and that only added to my lack of engagement with the story. The POV swings around, and the writing is overpadded.
As is probably clear, if you can swallow the central premise and relationship, you will enjoy this story very much more than I did. I can hardly say this is a bad story, or not worth your time. I simply didn’t enjoy it very much, and I, as I’ve repeatedly said, am a sour old bag 🙂