Aug 31, 2014

[Books] Too Busy for Love

The gay and lesbian section of NetGalley is a really mixed bag of books to review. Majority of them are romances of one kind or another ranging from typical boy-next-door situations to high fantasy pieces in far off kingdoms. Unfortunately, a vast majority of them are the equivalent of those cheap romance novels one gets at a drug store counter or something - mindless romantic versions of penny dreadfuls, if you will.

Too Busy For Love was one of the earlier books that I had downloaded from the review site in order to build up some credibility in the review market, or something like that. I had no idea which publishers would be willing to send me books so I applied for a lot of review copies and this was one of them. But it got buried beneath my other Kindle books and so it pretty much got forgotten.

The other week I decided to reorganize my Kindle titles and make sure that I have a better system for tracking review copies. That helped unearth this book, which really only took an afternoon to read. And yet that still made it feel like a waste of my time.

Synopsis: Too Busy for Love is a gay romance novella written by Tamsin Baker for Escape Publishing. Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion of the work.

Thomas pretty much has it all - he's terribly successful in his career and he has amassed a certain amount of wealth that entitles him to a particular standard of living. He lives in a mansion and has a full staff to provide for his every whim while at home. And this includes a butler and of course gardeners. And we jump right into things with Thomas berating the young gardener for pruning the rose bushes before his mother is due to arrive given he expects her to want to see them in bloom.

But at the same time Thomas can't help but ogle the gardeners tight rear end as he goes about his gardening. And it turns out that Luke, the gardener, is actually an architecture student. The gardening job is just there to help pay for his college education and he wasn't expecting more out of things. But Thomas' serious interest in Luke coincides with Luke's own uncertainty about his sexuality. You kind of know where things go from there.

I can respect the need for characters with little more back story than a stereotype, really. In these sorts of light romance novels, that's all you can really get, I suppose. But that's as far as you can "cheat" in terms of the narrative. You need an actual plot and you need to navigate your characters to where they need to go in a logical fashion. You can't just skip ahead and expect us to take the author's word for things (unintentional pun). And in this case I really felt a lot of "oh really now" moments as Thomas completed his taking of Luke.

But man, an architect who already has a great body and just started this gardening job? And then he asks to use the library of his boss whom he's barely met since it just so happens that the library has great books on architecture? Who stocked this library? Why does Thomas, the generic wealthy businessman, have architecture books in his personal library? Why did the student think this was a better idea than just borrowing books from his own school's library? I guess we all have to bow down to the plot.

Then there's the odd decision to have him all sexually confused. That in itself is okay - a lot of romance novels like to play this angle. But to have him resolve this uncertainty with a single shower wank was just lazy. One day, I'm all scared and uncertain of my boss' advances. One shower later, let's get it on! Lazy, lazy writing and almost kind of offensive to gay men. This is not how guys come to terms with their sexuality.

But then I think I need to stop gambling on these LGBT romance stories written by women. I'm not making a blanket statement that women can't write gay male romance stories. I am saying I've yet to find one that I really liked, so maybe it's a question of personal preference? It always just feels like the characters are only gay in concept or just "on the surface" but there's little to no substance to them.

And - SPOILER ALERT - they get married a year later. We totally didn't need that illogical epilogue.

Too Busy For Love is really, really light reading and I suppose it's okay if you happen to stumble across a free copy of the book someone. It costs less than $1 on the Kindle store, and that still feels like too much to pay. The book only gets 1 instant falling in love scene out of a possible 5.

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