Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Survival by Jade Falconer

TITLE: Survival
AUTHOR: Jade Falconer
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 60k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $6.00

Successful lawyer Gabriel White has it all – an engagement to the mayor’s daughter, a rising career, money to spare. So why is he looking for a male prostitute to fill all his fantasies? Nicky is a nineteen-year-old whore who’ll do almost anything for a trick. He plays up to every kink Gabriel has and even those he didn’t realize he wanted. But when Gabriel can’t get Nicky out of his head, his entire world is threatened, especially since he can’t stay away…

Every once in a while, I indulge in buying a story purely on kink factor. I’ve never been interested in any other titles by this particular author, and the fact that it was a Phaze release made me leery, but the excerpt teetered on that dirty/wrong line with a glammed up whore and a trick that goes dom and uses dirty talk. I got sucked in and decided what the hell, let’s read this one for the kink.

And that’s all the first third of this story is. It’s scene after scene of Gabriel enacting fantasies, and getting addicted to Nicky and the release of his own suppressed desires. Gabriel is forceful, the dialogue is porny, and it gives in to a lot of different kind of kinks, including dressing Nicky in a schoolgirl outfit. It’s everything most erotic romance isn’t – scorching and very much a guilty pleasure.

But then the story tries to grow out of that kink. When it does, it falls flat on its face. Nicky finds out who Gabriel is and starts to blackmail him, which Gabriel feels he has no choice but to pay. Nicky goes as far as following Gabriel’s fiancĂ©e around, posing as a wedding planner in order to learn more about him. It feels like the story is going to devolve into a Fatal Attraction kind of tale, which, honestly, would likely have worked. But that’s not what happens. After making Nicky appear all creepy and unsympathetic, the story twists again to Gabriel realizing he’s in love with him, and everything turns into sappy, heavy-handed melodrama after that. Nicky’s damaged past comes out then, with every stereotypical problem prostitutes have, in order to make him sympathetic to the reader, but it’s too little too late. He’s sobbing every other page and it’s just too, too much. Toss in the fact that Gabriel seems to lose his brain at the same time he falls in love, and the last half of the story is a sheer mess. For instance, Gabriel ends up getting Nicky’s pimp as a client, when the pimp is accused of murder. Nicky is the pimp’s alibi, but Gabriel doesn’t even know that fact until the second Nicky goes up on the stand. Seriously. What lawyer doesn’t depose the primary alibi of a murder suspect? It’s supposed to be all suspenseful and dramatic, but only succeeds in making everybody look like an idiot.

The prose is unsophisticated, with too much passive sentence structuring and mild headhopping. I was willing to overlook it when I played into the kink, but with that attraction gone, the flaws become all too apparent. The end result is a schizophrenic story – fast-paced, dirty, and gritty for the first third, then maudlin melodrama for the rest.


7/10 – Playing to kink only partially aids prose laden with passive tense and headhopping

Hero #1

4/10 – Mired in his own idiocy after the kink goes away

Hero #2

4/10 – Never breaks through all the sobbing and stalkery behavior to become the tragic hero the story intends

Entertainment value

5/10 – The compulsive kink of the first third sucked me in, but the rest of it falls apart.

World building

5/10 – I never believed Gabriel was a professional, though Nicky’s world was a little more realized.



No comments: