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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Making Arrangements
Progress: 44 %
When Dimple Met Rishi
Sandhya Menon
Progress: 273/378 pages
Let's Talk About Love
Claire Kann
Progress: 80/277 pages
Princess Prince
Tomoko Taniguchi
Progress: 310/336 pages
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Peter Godfrey-Smith
Progress: 41/255 pages
A Rational Arrangement
Rowyn Ashby
Progress: 89/537 pages
FREE: Locke & Key
Tatiana Maslany, Audible Studios, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Kate Mulgrew, Haley Joel Osment, Full Cast
Progress: 91/806 minutes

Str8te Boys

Str8te Boys - Evangeline Anderson I remembered reading a good review of this one a while back. It was on sale, I was curious, and it seemed like a sexy read.Rather than starting off with sex and then leading into more sex, Anderson builds up to it. “Gay chicken” starts with kissing and goes from there – I think there are only one or two actual sex scenes in the novella (if one defines sex strictly), and only near the end. General steaminess is the main thing this novella has going for it, and the gradual ramping up of “gay chicken” helps build anticipation. It's not just “what Mav and Duke are doing right now” but “what are they going to do next?”If all you're looking for is steamy m/m scenes, I'd say give this one a go. However, I need more than that.I'm a very character-oriented reader. If the characters are interesting, if I like them and care about them for some reason or another, there's a good chance I'll like the story as a whole. Duke and Mav are nice guys, but...they feel kind of weak as characters. Okay, so they have goals: Mav wants to be a pharmacist and Duke wants to go to business school. They like playing college soccer and are really, really good friends. I think maybe if the novella had focused on Duke instead of Mav, I might have liked it more, although I probably would have found the premise even more unbelievable. Unfortunately, the novella focuses on Mav.Mav is an idiot.It would probably be kinder to say that he's just in denial, but I really do think it's more accurate to call him an idiot. “In denial” might fit if, say, Mav found himself fantasizing about his friend but told himself it didn't mean anything because, after all, they both had dated lots of girls. Guys who date women can't possibly be interested in other guys, right?Except Mav doesn't just fantasize about Duke. “Gay chicken” doesn't take long to progress from kissing (which, by the way, happens in front of an audience – one person, and a friend of theirs, but still) to everything just short of sex. Duke was the one who started “gay chicken,” he was the one more likely to casually touch Mav, he was the one who started their sleeping arrangements (Mav and Duke sleep in the same bed together almost all the time), and he was the one who suggested that he and Mav earn the rest of their rent money by posing for pictures for Str8te Boys, a website featuring sexy and sweet photos of supposedly straight guys. Mav figured that Duke was just more comfortable with all of that than he was, so he never said anything about any of it and even gradually got used to most of it.Like I said, Mav is an idiot. I can't even say that this book is set in some kind of parallel universe in which everyone has blinders on. Every single character in this book figured things out before Mav did. Maybe it would have been better if they had all been revealed to be as dense as Mav, because the revelation that everyone else knew or had figured things out already just made Mav look worse. I have a hard time accepting that a character who, in other aspects of his life, seems to have at least average intelligence can be so dense when it comes to reading his best friend.Anderson dedicates the novella to her “loyal m/m readers” and it certainly reads like it was meant for them. The book is from Mav's perspective (in the third person, but focused on his perspective – I'm sure there's a word for this), but it feels slightly off. Even at the beginning of the story, before the first game of “gay chicken,” Mav seems hyper-aware of his and Duke's muscular, masculine physiques. That may have been partly to hint at Mav's growing attraction to his best friend, but it also seemed to me like playing things up for the readers. This, and the various “gay chicken” scenes, had a tendency to make me feel a wee bit like a voyeur. I don't generally get that feeling when I read romance, or even erotica, and I found it a bit uncomfortable. However, I haven't seen this mentioned in other reviews of this novella (in fact, the general consensus seems to be that this is one of Anderson's best works), so maybe it's just me.If this is really one of Anderson's best works, I don't think I'll be trying another one. For something good, short, and steamy, I much prefer Katrina Strauss's Sleight of Hand.(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)