Rating: 5 stars
Daniel Corrigan hates his life. He used to have it all. Affluent lifestyle complete with a great paying job, a loving wife, two children, a great house, and even a dog. Now all are gone because he simply couldn’t live a lie any longer. With two little words, “I’m gay,” he lost everything and everyone in his life, with the exception of his brother, a college principal.
Now depressed, penniless, and living in a college dorm room, Daniel makes a living teaching macroeconomics at his brother’s university. The only bright spot in his life is Troy Anderson, a sexy student in his class. The deal they made, exchanging sexual favors for an A in his class, is about to come to an end along with the semester and Daniel is not sure he can handle the loss. What will happen when the Grade-A-Sex deal comes to an end?
I love surprises and this short story is all that and a cupcake with dark chocolate sprinkles on top. From the title, I would never guess at the angst, bitterness, and despair that is emerges from the tale of Daniel’s life after he comes out. I am always amazed at the courage it takes for someone to come out of the closet, whether they are a teenager or a middle-aged adult. While you hope with all your heart for acceptance and love, the stories you most often hear are those of loss, contempt, and pain. Daniel is no different. His expectations of his family’s reaction might have been naive, but the actuality of their disgust and rejection was crushing. Pike got this so right, I often had tears in my eyes as I read the story (and this is a short story mind you).
Daniel’s room is littered with the debris of his life, left over food containers, clothes he can’t be bothered washing, all symptoms of a deeply depressed man just going through the motions. Every detail Pike paints for us is meticulous. There is not a false word or emotion here. Troy Anderson has surprises of his own in store for us. Needless to say, my lips are sealed here. Just know that Troy is no cardboard figure, he too is fully alive and breathing. It just takes a little longer to get to know him. The sex is hot, fast, and overlaid with desperation.
When I first read about the sex for grades issue, it bothered me, but as I got further into the story, it became easier to accept. Daniel had only done it a few times and it fit right in with his poor self esteem and “hitting rock bottom.” If one ignores the depression cycle he is on, his behavior is hard to understand. As it is, he is not a likeable human being at the beginning of the story. However, the deal entered into between the teacher and the student here is a way for the older man to have any type of a relationship with this man he has come to love. It is more a ploy of desperation than something he does with others, and he despises himself for it.
I have not read the first College Fun and Gays story. I really don’t feel its necessary in order to read and appreciate the beauty of this little gem. But you know that I won’t be able to rest until I go back to the beginning of the series. I will let you all know what I find. In the meantime, you will just love this!
Cover: I don’t know if it is just me but any cover color in the red range is hard on my eyes and this is no exception. There are some wonderful graphics in the background that really clue you into the story but they are lost with the highlighted image of the college. I also prefer a stylistically plainer font. IMO, it’s just easier to read. Grade A story, grade C cover.