Screen Shots: Smolder by Willa Okati
Brandon’s trying his best to play it cool. He figures if no one knows he’s a total amateur, he’ll go a lot further in adult entertainment than a nervous newbie. Touchy about being short and pretty, he’s fierce in his independence and determined to become a hot commodity.
He didn’t count on two of twentysomethingtwinks.com’s top studs swooping down and claiming him for their own. Gabriel and Dylan, notorious for their intense sex scenes and a passionate relationship off-screen, decide they want Brandon as their third in a permanent ménage.
Now, all they have to do is convince him. And if a guy’s been working in adult entertainment for any time at all, he knows more than a few mighty pleasant ways to coax a man over to the dark side — and right into the middle.
The second installment of the series (the first is Screen Shots: Seduced) focuses on a group of amateur gay porn stars as their relationships develop both on screen and off. This offering delves more deeply into two of the rougher, tougher personalities as they struggle with adding a third to their tight duo. The writing is fun and flirty with a plethora of hot sex and more depth and emotion than the previous book. Although there is still an obvious disconnect between the friends with benefits theory and deeper relationships, this story tries to bridge that gap with greater understanding and emotion. Still a fun and light hearted summer series with many more stories to tell.
Brandon is a newcomer to the amateur gay porn studio and jumps into the deep end with his first movie between the fearsome duo of Gabriel and Dylan. The two are known for their wild and unrelenting sex together, both on camera and off, and decide they want to be the two to break in Brandon to the industry. The first movie goes well but emotions are peaked when the end turns tender. Confused and disorientated, Brandon retreats behind an emotional wall of anger that takes a very determined duo of men to break down and convince Brandon they want him after the camera stops rolling.
This installment has more angst and emotional turmoil than the initial foray but delivers a more in depth story. Brandon struggles with understanding the dynamics between all the different men while fighting his overwhelming feelings for Gabriel and Dylan. Unfortunately there is very little context beyond the present situation and rampant sex to give any of the men much depth other than the obvious emotional drama. Most of the characters are poorly characterized or non-existent in the wake of Brandon’s journey, leaving both Gabriel and Dylan superficial. While their ardor for Brandon is undeniable, their reasons for wanting a third in the relationship are still undefined. There is a reference to Brandon’s love of rough sex but the emotional attachment points at deeper reasons that aren’t offered. Thus the relationship has depth, but the reasons are unclear and the reader is left wanting.
Additionally the concept of the friends with benefit brotherhood of the porn movies is still not entirely satisfying as an explanation. Brandon especially struggles with this concept and never really finds resolution; instead the problem is simply dropped and ignored. This frustration is carried from the previous novel and throughout this story as neither offer a concrete and understandable definition and reasoning for the deeper relationships while having sex on camera. Although the story tries to offer explanations about love versus friends that have sex, these were often muddled and unclear leaving both Brandon and the reader confused as to the real point. This is likely to be an ongoing problem with the series that has to be put aside for the enjoyment of the stories and characters.
Even though the characters are not fully explored and the emphasis of the story is clearly on the hot, rough sex, this is an enjoyable and sexy offering. The dialogue lacked the punch and wit of the first book but alternatively offers a darker, edgier tone that brushes with BDSM. The brief glimpse into each relationship is tantalizing and evocative, even if not wholly satisfying. The lasting nature of the relationships seems to be questionable but the sex is never in doubt. Be sure to pick this up and follow this incredibly delicious group of men.
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