Monday, August 22, 2011

Bad Company by K.A. Mitchell

TITLE: Bad Company
AUTHOR: K.A. Mitchell
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 57k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.50

Kicked out and cut off by his father, Kellan decides to hit the old man where it hurts – by pretending to be gay and cutting deep into his father’s homophobic heart and business. He goes to the one gay guy he knows, his childhood friend Nate, but the reasons for their falling out are still alive in Nate’s memory. He’s not as eager to play along with Kellan’s scheme, no matter how much he might have loved Kellan back in the day…

K.A. Mitchell is one of those authors I constantly see recommended everywhere, but have failed to get engaged in any of the blurbs or excerpts I’ve tried. When this one came out, I was sufficiently interested to give it a go, though I’ll freely admit some of that was to finally satisfy my curiosity. Sadly, I’m still not sure what the big deal is.

The plot is a simple Gay For You throwaway. This time, rich and famous Kellan has decided to get back at his homophobic father for cutting him off by doing everything he demands except with a guy instead of a woman. He ropes in his childhood friend Nate to help, though Nate has spent the last decade and more hating Kellan for a wide variety of infractions, not the least of which was outing him to the entire high school and standing idly by while Nate was badly bullied. Nate doesn’t want to help, but his liberal, idealistic side finds it hard to resist the offer Kellan makes of real proof against Kellan’s father. He agrees to help, which means Kellan living with him, for a two-month period. Needless to say, not everything goes as planned.

My problems arise almost from the start. While the dialogue is crisp and original, both lead characters were so unlikeable that I found it difficult to care about what was going on with them. Kellan is spoiled, immature, irresponsible, and obsessed with sex (when he keeps looking at the blonde at his first job as a walking blowjob, I almost stopped reading right then), while Nate is high-handed and supercilious, with such self-righteous tendencies he felt like a liberal stereotype. Guys like this might deserve happy endings, too, but that doesn’t mean I need to waste my time reading about it.

It doesn’t help that the set-up feels flimsy at best. I just don’t understand why it had to be Nate. All the people he’s met over the years, and he doesn’t know one other gay man? He claims that he owes money to most of his friends, but he’s done a lot. Somebody had to be a better choice than the childhood friend he completely screwed with. Because these two are very different men. They’ve grown up wanting different things. They live different lifestyles. What do they have in common to build a real future on except the memories of their childhood together and sex? Nothing that I could see.

The flimsiness holds all the way to the end with the wishy-washy resolution with Kellan’s father. The only reason I even made it that far was because it was such a swift and easy read. The dialogue was fresh and often funny, and the sex well-written. Characters felt real, too, which doesn’t always happen when I don’t like a story. But it’s that reality, I think, when slapped in the middle of a straight contemporary like this, that gets in the way from truly enjoying it. I just don’t like the two heroes. In a romance, I need to like at least one person in the pairing to get emotionally invested. That didn’t happen this time.


8/10 – Snappy dialogue with memorable characters

Hero #1

5/10 – Immature and selfish, real but not very likeable

Hero #2

5/10 – Uptight and self-righteous, again real but just not very likeable

Entertainment value

5/10 – While I couldn’t stop reading, I didn’t really get much emotional satisfaction from it since I just didn’t like either lead

World building

6/10 – Little is done to expound or take advantage of the various settings




Jenre said...

This is definitely not the best book to satisfy your curiosity about KA Mitchell. I generally engage well with her writing and books but in this one I also found the main characters difficult to like.

For a better KA Mitchell reading experience I would recommend Collision Course or Life Over Easy.

Sunita said...

I liked this book more than you did, but I agree with your points. The characters were not particularly likeable for me either, but I was curious to see what KAM would do with them, and with the Gay4U trope. As I read it turned into a "what is the author doing" rather than an immersing reader experience, if that makes sense.

I inferred that Kellan went to Nate because of the issues between them that he had never fully resolved, but yes, it was me imposing that on the book.

I agree with Jenre that there are much better places to start. No Souvenirs is universally loved but not my favorite. I really like Regularly Scheduled LIfe, even though it sags in the middle and takes a while to get to the resolution.

liade said...

I had problems with this book, but somehow couldn't put them into words. You nailed them (not for the first time, either).