While this wasn’t a terrible book I kind of want to scrub my brain after reading it. It’s just so banal and ridiculous. The writing is tedious and the characters are silly. The short story is mostly sex scenes with instant “I love you” declarations between them. Oh and a totally unnecessary possessive ex-lover threat thrown in for absolutely no reason. I even went back and re-read parts just to ensure I was right about the changing details. This is probably a prime reason I don’t read Total-E-Bound as I don’t think their books are quality stories or all that well written. No doubt that description doesn’t cover every m/m book of theirs but it’s a rare book I pick up from TEB that is well written, fully developed, and worthwhile reading. Sadly this author won’t make my list of new authors to check out.
The plot is perfunctory and would have been fine, if only it had been well executed. Dylan is a top rated vaulter and deeply in the closet. Aiden is a well-known gymnast that comes to train at Dylan’s gym and the two hit it off immediately. One sex scene later, they’re in love and a teammate decides he wants Aiden for himself.
It’s not so much the instant love that bothers me as the lack of any appreciable depth to the story. It reads very superficially from beginning to end. The plot is not just predictable it’s boring. There’s no purpose to the story. The two men meet, have sex, fall in love, and live happily ever after. All of that is ok but there are no problems. There are several attempts to inject drama and uncertainty but they’re weak at best. The first is internal issues between Dylan and Aiden. Dylan has some trust issues from a former relationship, which he cries out in an unremarkable scene between sex sessions. Aiden is unwilling to let Dylan go and is a strong, stalwart force that doesn’t doubt and doesn’t question.
This attempt didn’t work because both men are very cardboard and frankly, boring. They’re average guys with no particular interest. Any time the characters could have a more developed issue, such as afraid to tell others they’re gay, and the story solves the problem with sex and a random solution. Such as all of a sudden the guys who were giving Aiden a hard time for being gay are suddenly gay too. Problem solved. Dylan’s afraid of coming out but he just blurts it out and is suddenly fine. These sudden and way too easy fixes take any nuance out of the story.
Likewise the sad inclusion of the teammate, Jerome, who wants Aiden for himself, is too obvious. It also makes no sense. Early on in the story people claim Jerome isn’t violent but oops, the story needs to fix that so the story changes at the end with no good explanation. This is a very clear attempt to inject some tension in the story but it’s flat and poorly written, just like the short story itself unfortunately. The prose tends to be awkward and unappealing with phrases like “Being out of practice in love sucked assholes.” When you add in 7 sex scenes in 50 pages or so, it’s just too much.
I didn’t ever really care about the couple. They’re flat without any nuance or any depth. I know nothing about them but they’re in love and like to do gymnastics. I didn’t feel any real chemistry so all the sex scenes turned me off and the writing didn’t help. This isn’t a terrible, horrible short story. It’s just one I didn’t like and got bored with very early on. I took a break halfway through and it took me almost 2 weeks to return to finish the last 20 pages. I wouldn’t recommend it.