Monday, March 23, 2009

VGL Male Seeks Same by Rick R. Reed

TITLE: VGL Male Seeks Same
AUTHOR: Rick R. Reed
PUBLISHER: Amber Allure
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $5.00

At forty-two, Ethan Schwartz is tired of being alone. All he wants is a real relationship, with someone who shares the same interests he does. The problem with that is…he’s forty-two. The usual means of finding a guy are slipping through his fingers. Nobody wants a somewhat average Everyman, so he decides to try a last resort – online dating. His first attempt gets him nowhere, but when he tries again, using the picture of the best looking guy he can find, he’s deluged with responses. One in particular catches his eye, but what is Brian going to think when he discovers Ethan isn’t who he says he is?

I’ve been wanting to try this author for quite some time, but my out of control TBR pile, which includes another of his titles, has slowed me down from getting to him. After reading this, it’s safe to conclude that his other story will definitely get read now.

There’s a melancholy realism to the author’s characterizations in this short novella. Ethan seems like any number of aging gay men – moderately attractive, moderately successful, moderately interesting. But dating scenes thrive on youth, and the gay community is no exception to that. He can’t compete with all the men in their twenties looking for the same thing, which makes his story feel all that more real. It’s actually a little hard to watch him try and struggle with his age issues. When he decides to swap out his picture, I cringed. I knew nothing good could come from that, but it’s impossible to turn away from what you know is going to be a colossal wreck. I felt like reaching through the screen, slapping him, and pulling my best Cher impression from Moonstruck: “Snap out of it!”

The situation only worsens when he starts getting the perfect e-mails in response to his new, perfect picture. I have to admit, I never liked Brian, but that’s probably because I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. His e-mails were too idealistic, too good to be true, and never sounded like a real person to me. That left me tense for the entire last half of the short story until something broke. The story never lost its humor, but it was never quite enough to pull me back from that edge of anxiety. Perhaps in this case, I over-empathized with the main character to the point of not being able to dissociate enough to immerse myself in his perspective. The credible characterizations are a tremendous credit to the author, though. I can’t remember the last time I worried quite so much about a hero’s actions.


8/10 – A wry sense of humor fuels the tight characterization

Hero #1

7/10 – Slightly pathetic but very realistic, watching his actions is like watching an impending train wreck

Hero #2

5/10 – For the bulk of the story, feels too good to be true

Entertainment value

7/10 – Humorous and heart-breaking

World building

9/10 – Feels all too realistic, which is part of its tough allure



1 comment:

Teddy Pig said...

10 Points for quoting Olympia Dukakis in a gay romance review.