Monday, April 26, 2010

An Academic Dilemma by Alix Bekins

TITLE: An Academic Dilemma
AUTHOR: Alix Bekins
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Contemporary gay menage erotic romance
COST: $3.99

Grad student Rodrigo is hitting midterms with sex on the brain – due to Ian, the incredibly gorgeous librarian he tripped over, and Dr. Daniel Sullivan, the even better looking professor he’s been assigned as research assistant to. His flirting with the charming Ian goes a step further, but there’s a catch. Ian is in a longterm relationship with another guy, one who doesn’t mind that Ian scratches this particular itch. Rodrigo is grateful for whatever he can get, but as the semester stretches on, his attraction to Dr. Sullivan only worsens, his feelings for Ian only deepen, and he sees no easy way of resolving any of it…

This gay ménage, while one of few that appear on the current e-market, suffers from what the vast majority of ménages do, not just gay ones. It fails to find a real emotional connection between all three players, yet still insists on being called an erotic romance, as if there’s something wrong with being labeled pure erotica.

The story is told completely from Rodrigo’s POV, and much of it is spent detailing his budding relationship with Ian. It focuses on his unrequited lust for both Ian and Dr. Sullivan at the start, then, once Ian and Rodrigo consummate, his growing feelings for the man. Ian is honest with Rodrigo from the start about his partner, though he never reveals his identity, and Rodrigo is willing to accept that at first. In fact, the sexual tension and later erotic scenes function quite effectively. I’m actually quite enamored by the potential they offer, because they’re fun, sexy, and genuine.

My problems begin to arise once the identity of Ian’s partner is revealed. It’s really not a secret (the publisher’s blurb pretty much gives it away, as do many of the story’s twists), and presents the question, “Why didn’t Rodrigo figure it out?” I suppose the fact that he’s so busy at the end of the semester might be used as a justification, but honestly, it’s a very weak one. But then the author attempts to integrate Rodrigo into the established couple, and emotionally, it falls flat on his face. Ian’s partner satisfies a sexual need for Rodrigo, but then the story just ends (even the epilogue is just another sexual interlude that doesn’t really work to the emotional completion, or frankly, its start).

The thing of it is, the story’s hot. Very hot. Much of it reads like really well written erotica you might find free in any number of places online. I could even have believed in the story if it had been longer, so the third had a chance to have an emotional connection with Rodrigo, or if the third had been revealed sooner to take advantage of the story’s length limitation, or even if it had turned into a traditional romance with just Ian and Rodrigo. Any one of those would have been a much more satisfying read. As it stands, though, it just doesn’t succeed as a ménage, or at least, not a romantic one.

Readability

7/10 – Slightly superficial in its characterization, and reads more like erotica than anything else, but swift and clean regardless

Menage

6/10 – The ménage angle doesn’t come through until the end, and it’s hard to buy into the emotional aspect of it

Characterization

6/10 – If this were pure erotica, I’d rate this higher because of what the expectations are. But it’s not, so I’ve got to rate lower because I didn’t buy into the feelings very much at all

Entertainment value

6/10 – Hot and diverting, but little else

World building

6/10 – So much attention is focused on the sex and the wanting of sex that much of the rest falls by the wayside

TOTAL:

31/50

1 comment:

Alix said...

Thank you for reading and reviewing!