Buy Link: The Tourist
Author: Clare London
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: Novel

Rating: 4.5

Ace is a tourist, a spirit that occupies his hosts temporarily to enjoy their lives, vitality, and (most importantly to Ace) their sex lives.  He is not quite sure how it works, but Ace has the ability to jump from host to host and share their feelings and experiences. It is sort of like possession, but the host retains most of the control.  However Ace can help the host along by seeing his inner needs and feelings and helping to give him a little “push” in the right direction.

When the story opens Ace finds himself in a new body, that of a contractor named Dan. He is pleasantly surprised to find Dan entering the shower with his incredibly hot boyfriend Ricky.  Although the sex is amazing, Ace feels a lot of anxiety coming from Dan and insecurities about Ricky’s feelings for him and whether he is good enough for such a good looking guy.  And it turns out Ricky has insecurities of his own.  He has come off of a bad relationship with a man who was both violent and demeaning.  Ricky worries he is nothing but a pretty face and that Dan will tire of him.  He also is stressed and anxious about his ex who won’t leave him alone.

As Ace gets to know the men by taking turns inhabiting both their bodies, he realizes he cares about what happens to them and can’t move on as easily as usual. He wants to help them work things out together and to ease their fears and anxieties. But things get worse before they get better as Ricky’s ex-boyfriend becomes more possessive and threatening, putting the relationship and Ricky’s safety at risk.

I loved the set up of this story and the way Ace provides a narrator role, giving us the inner thoughts of each man without a formal POV change.  Even with Ace riding along with the hosts, the story stays focused on Dan and Ricky and their feelings and relationship.  So this is definitely not a menage story and Ace doesn’t have romantic feelings of his own toward either of the men.  He acts as more of a facilitator in their relationship, helping each man realize his own feelings and become more comfortable acting on them. Here is how Ace explains it:

I’m just a visitor.

Like I said before, that’s what I do. I visit. I surf around, looking for people who are having fun, who need some extra energy, who are open to share, whether they realize it fully or not. Then I’ll drop in. Some people might call it inhabiting, some use the word possession.

I like to call it tourism…

I wasn’t a complete parasite, though. Most times I could find a way to improve a guy’s sex life. It was like my calling card, my gift to my hosts. The level of ignorance in the world was bloody shocking, in my opinion, and when they added love to the mix, it just stirred up a whole Pandora’s Box of inhibitions and emotional expectations. Well, that was my experience. Of course, I couldn’t make anyone do or say something that wasn’t theirs to start with–that they wouldn’t have done or said themselves, given other circumstances. But I could surely encourage it out of them.

I was impressed at how well London creates this world and Ace’s role as a tourist without it ever feeling creepy or strange.  I never felt like Ace is controlling Ricky and Dan, merely helping them to access parts of themselves that they have blocked off or are afraid to reach.  It is clear he is making a positive impact on them and their lives and we definitely seem them grow happier and more confident in themselves and their relationship throughout the book.

I liked that we got to see a character arc for Ace as well.  When the story starts, he is focused only on having fun, hopping from host to host and enjoying their sex lives and good times. But as he gets to know Dan and Ricky and learns more about their problems he begins to really care what happens to them and want to help them.  We also get to learn more about Ace’s mortal life and the hard road he traveled, along with the horrible way he died.  I also think the book does a good job explaining what is going on with Ace without too much of an info dump.  Instead we get the key facts early and the rest is spread throughout the story.

One thing that did bother me a bit was the way Ace’s role seemed to change toward the end of the story.  Through most of the book we are hearing from Ace as he narrates what is happening with his host and what the host is feeling.  Ricky or Dan aren’t not aware of Ace’s presence and we don’t hear their POV directly.  But toward the end of the book this seemed to change when Ace inhabits a third host.  At this point we seem to be getting the other guy’s thoughts and feelings directly, and while he seems have an awareness of something being “off” in his mind, we don’t actually hear Ace.  So this was a bit confusing and seemed sort of inconsistent with the way Ace’s role is portrayed throughout the rest of the book.

Overall I thought this was a really interesting and creative story.  I loved the set up that gives us the inner thoughts and feelings of both Ricky and Dan with Ace helping out along the way.  I enjoyed both the focus on the relationship between the guys, as well as the more action-oriented second half of the book that kept things exciting and moving along quickly.   I really enjoyed The Tourist and would recommend it.

Cover Review: One thing I really liked about this cover is how it depicts Ricky and Dan in the forefront as the book is really about them.  Ace is present but sort of in the background and in a filmy kind of light.  I appreciate how it puts the focus on the main couple rather than making it look like this is a menage story.