Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Past Lies by Shayla Kersten

TITLE: Past Lies
AUTHOR: Shayla Kersten
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 51k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $5.95

Randy Martin is back for his twenty-year high school reunion. An outcast in high school, he’s returned wealthy and buff, ready to face down the ghosts of the past, including his high school crush, Paul Loughton. The high school prodigal and current small town mayor, Paul feels stifled by his ex-fiancee’s constant presence, his father’s refusal to let his golden boy out from under his thumb, and the fears always lurking in the back of his mind that he might be gay. Too many drinks and a latent attraction to Randy change things forever, but what kind of life can either man have, with both of them unwilling to out themselves to their parents?

When it comes to sex scenes, Shayla Kersten is a pro. She is almost always hot and heavy, whether it’s het or gay, and this release is no different. It takes Kersten’s trademark steam and offers it to readers in a clean, competent package. There’s variety, and emotion, and just enough angst to make each scene unique.

There’s also a lot of them, but then this is from Ellora’s Cave and so that shouldn’t be a surprise at all. It is, however, the meat in an otherwise lean story.

If I had to pick one word to describe the story, it’s safe. The basic idea for the story is nothing new - high school geek returns gorgeous and rich, and falls in with high school crush. Paul and Randy are both likable guys – rich, good-looking, considerate, eager for lots of sex. Paul’s fears about his newfound sexuality are played for drama, but it never has the weight I would have expected. It’s drama-lite. Paul angsts about his father’s reaction to the truth, but not a whole lot comes from that. And Randy's fears never do anything but spark one brief fight between the two that I didn't believe anyway. While the guys are likable, there’s never any danger or doubt about what’s going to happen.

It’s also safe in regards to resolution. All the conflict for these two ultimately gets resolved by a third party, through no actions by either man. That’s nice and all, and I’m glad for them, glad that things work out, but ultimately, it’s not very interesting to read. It makes me wonder just how long they would have gone on the way they were, hiding from the world, without someone else to set everything to rights for them.

But considering the hot factor in this, those are minor complaints. Kersten has created a pair of nice guys, having lots of hot sex, and if I probably won’t remember too much about this a week from now, I don’t think that’s the story's purpose in the long run. It’s rose-colored, escapist erotic romance. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you want.


8/10 – Easy, competent prose makes it simple to read along, but nothing outstanding to keep me from walking away for periods

Hero #1

7/10 – A nice guy, though it would have been nice to see some flaws.

Hero #2

7/10 – More rounded than Randy, though Randy wasn’t the only one to get frustrated with his paranoia.

Entertainment value

7/10 – A nice read, if not memorable

World building

7/10 – More attention is focused on the guys and sex, though the set-up in the beginning of the small town is strong.



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