“ Paperback: 194 pages / Publisher: Riptide Publishing / Published: 29 July 2013 / Language: English „
Christian wants to be a preschool teacher, and he's enrolled in a prestigious MA program where he has to be a model citizen. But that isn't as easy as it seems when you're gay. With no money, he finds the only place he can afford. When one of his roommates is the gorgeous Max, it looks like he's going to have an even harder (pun intended) time of it. And then there's his Auntie Beverly, whose cancer isn't getting better and her porn video shop is on the verge of bankruptcy. This is Heidi Belleau's "Apple Polisher" and the first in her new series of "Rear Entrance Video" novels.
We all know that the classic "Rom-Com" plot is "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl." When it come to LGBT novels, all one basically has to do is make the two the same gender. In this case, make it "boy meets boy... ", and you'll need no further explanation. That said, Belleau gives us a story with plenty of hurdles to justify the "boy loses boy" part, and just enough mild surprises to bring about the obvious conclusion, and keep her readers interested.
Using the ruse that Christian's course requires him to be squeaky clean helps build the conflict. That his upbringing makes him feel that this means he can't be openly gay, plus having his scholarship contingent on him not having a job, also helps in this. In short, Belleau knows how to complicate her character's lives, and not unreasonably so. Of course, it wouldn't be a comedy if there wasn't a happy-ever-after, and on this too, Belleau delivers. Thankfully, she finds the most twisted pathway to resolving these difficulties, even if not everything ends up picture-perfect.
Being a straight female I haven't read much LGBT fiction, and almost none about gay men. It isn't that I've avoided these books; they're just not a genre that interests me. I'm also not generally into books with a great deal of sex scenes. That isn't to say I'm a prude. I can enjoy well written love making as much as the next person, if properly done in a novel. And it is that "if" that makes all the difference - at least it does for me. So when I realized that there were going to be a few of these scenes between Max and Christian, I was a touch concerned at how tastefully they would be done. But I shouldn't have been. Although I didn't find these passages to be a turn-on, I also didn't find them to be in the least bit offensive. I can also assure you that they weren't sentimentally done, and at times were fairly graphic. The bottom line (also, pun intended) is, these scenes actually furthered the plot and didn't feel the least bit gratuitous, which is a huge point in their favor.
Belleau's style here feels mostly off-handed and casual. It is basically down to earth and simple, without anything poetic or fancy. I personally prefer more lyrical prose, but that's a matter of taste. With that, she builds up her characters nicely, making them both likable and accessible. She also makes almost everything in their personalities and actions seem true-to-life, and believable. And although the major characters certainly aren't two dimensional, I would have liked them to have a touch more depth than what we're given here. Again, this could be just my personal preference, or it could be part and parcel of the genre that I'm unfamiliar with.
In all, I found this a fun read that may even appeal to those who aren't into LGBT fiction, and will probably be a hit with those who are fans of the genre. From me, it gets a solid recommendation with three stars out of five.
" Apple Polisher" by Heidi Belleau is due to be released on July 29th 2013. Thank you to Riptide Publishing for sending me an advance reader's copy of this novel via NetGalley.