Monday, April 30, 2012

Convenient Strangers by Cara McKenna

AUTHOR: Cara McKenna
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 20k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotica
COST: $4.45

Stephen left England behind to follow his lover back to the States, but when it finally becomes clear his lover is not coming out of the closet for him, Stephen calls it quits. He goes out to drown his sorrows and runs into the handsome Adam, himself the product of a recent break-up. The two men hit it off, ending with an offer to crash the night on Adam’s couch. In spite of their intent to keep it simple, the chemistry between them is too hot to ignore…

I’ve been on a kick recently with this author, and this is hardly the last book I have of hers on my TBR pile. It succeeds where the previous erotica book I read by here didn’t quite, though, which just makes me more excited about getting to the rest of her backlist.

English Stephen followed his lover back to the States in hopes that this relationship was going to be the one. However, the in the closet tendencies his lover displayed never go away, frustrating Stephen more and more as time passes. Finally, he can’t take anymore and walks out. Heading out to the bar, he gets hit on by Adam, a physical therapist who is coming off his own recent break-up. After a rough start, they hit it off, and decide to take it elsewhere, especially since Stephen doesn’t want to go back home. They agree no anal on the first date, but as the tension between them rises, they both realize they need to renegotiate those boundaries.

This is not a romance. There’s no HEA, and it’s branded as part of the Exotika line at EC. I say this only because of reader expectations. My previous experiences with McKenna’s erotica have blurred the lines between erotica and romance, making it difficult to accept it as either. Thankfully, this one doesn’t fall into that trap.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have an emotional payout. It does, to a degree. Both Stephen and Adam are sharply drawn, and the sexual tension between the two ratcheted up so well, the sex is a relief when it finally occurs. Because they both feel very real, and their emotions are just as vital as their physical attraction, I became attached to both men, eager to see how their one-night stand was going to play out. While there isn’t an HEA, there’s a hint of an HFN, which in the case of erotica, is really all that’s needed (and anybody expecting otherwise isn’t paying attention to how this is being sold). It works. Surprisingly well. Because the sex is hot and satisfying, the characters solid and sympathetic, and the writing clean and concise.

9/10 – Hot and well-paced
8/10 – The chemistry between these two is delicious, which helps with the eventual sex
8/10 – I liked both these guys for their very different personalities
Entertainment value
8/10 – There’s nothing wholly original about the story, but it delivers what it promises
World building
5/10 – Takes a back seat to the characters and sex

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