Patient Eyes by Andy Eisenberg
Jaden is in a bind: he’s an eighteen-year-old college student who doesn’t make enough money at his part-time job to even afford food. So when one of his house mates introduces him to gay-for-pay porn, he reluctantly agrees to take part. During his first scene, Jaden meets Brendan, and he’s stunned to find himself falling in love.
This is an appealing sweet romance that is mostly light on angst until the end. Unfortunately the ending has only a very vague happy for now that may not satisfy most readers. The lack of strong ending is also surprising, given the highly romantic tones of the book. Readers may not be bothered by this due to the strong romance of the story but this is disappointing and leaves an otherwise good story feeling like a let down. Other than this problem and a few technical errors, this novella is a strong first showing from a new author.
Jaden is a new college student, living away from home and struggling to make ends meet. When his part time job at Starbucks fails to provide him enough to eat, the literally starving student hesitantly agrees to check out a gay-for-pay porn site. Deciding that doing a few scenes and being able to eat is more important; Jaden gives the site a try. His first man on man scene is with experienced Brendan and emotions emerge that neither man is expecting. Both Brendon and Jaden decide to follow their hearts despite Jaden’s previous straight status. However the threat of exposure hangs over their heads and when a jealous admirer tries to destroy Jaden’s new life, unexpected consequences follow.
The story is told in third person point of view from Jaden’s perspective. There are a few slip ups when Brendon’s POV is thrown in erroneously but other than those few times, Jaden’s perspective is the only one shown. The plot is very romantic and focuses mostly on Jaden and Brendon’s developing relationship as they realize their feelings for each other go deeper than an on camera fling. The slow progress of their relationship is sweet and shows how Jaden goes from a happy heterosexual to discovering his attraction and intense passion for another man. Jaden doesn’t immediately identify as gay and re-iterates at numerous points that he enjoyed sex with his ex-girlfriend, but eventually Jaden comes to the realization that he is gay and happiest with Brendon. This process of discovery is easy and there is very little angst or drama involved from any angle for the most part.
There is also a lot of sex thrown in but only between Brendon and Jaden. Once Jaden accepts his desire for the other man, the two enjoy a healthy and active sex life. Mostly on camera for the porn site but fans of explicit erotica are sure to be satisfied by the amount of scenes included. The scenes also have a heavily romantic tone, even sometimes alluding to the fact that women are fans of gay porn. There are several references to this within the story and other than this now being an annoying inclusion, it wasn’t too overwhelming. Jaden throws himself into the sex as if he’s been doing it all his life with very little internal angst or soul searching.
This ease kept the characters somewhat two dimensional but not so much as to throw the story off. Other than Jaden’s love and desire for Brendon, there is little know about the other man. Brendon is a great support for Jaden and helps the other man come to terms with his sexuality in a gradual way. Brendon also helps Jaden realize the importance of family – almost too much. This flaw plays into the problems with the ending. Although Jaden’s family is fine with his sexuality, once the porn angle is introduced they completely change their minds. This abrupt change is not supported well and injects the main conflict in the story. This even leads up to the breakup between Jaden and Brendon, which again plays out off scene and the reader has no real idea why the men chose the avenue they did or how it was handled. One moment Jaden is upset and crying and the next it’s three years later, so much has happened, and there is a vague happy ending. This leap in time – all off page – is incredibly disappointing and ends the story on a very sour note.
Another problem with the ending is that the catalyst for all of this conflict, a jealous admirer, doesn’t make very much sense nor does the final solution – again off page – make much sense regarding this sub plot. It’s as if the book got to a certain point and realized there had to be overwhelming conflict and threw it in at the last moment. Yet the resolution and conflict this creates between Brendon and Jaden is all off page. This again weakens what is otherwise a decent, romantic story. The writing is pretty good with very few obvious mistakes and the flow is quick. The story doesn’t lag and speeds along so the novella is an easy, fun read.
Although the ending ruined the book for me and left me disgruntled, others may not be as bothered. For a nice easy first offering from a new author, check this out.
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