Rating: 3 stars
Absolutely Eric by Erica Pike is the second in her Boston Boys series. Once again we see the original cast of characters from the first book in this series, A Life without You (see review). This time however the book focuses on the bold, out and proud, Eric.
Eric, a college student, is part of a group of men who are by all appearances into casual sex and having multiple partners, namely each other. However, Eric’s real passion lies in editing and it is in his pursuit of an editor’s job where he meets Alex. Alex, a wealthy twenty-something business man, appears to be a rather bumbling, tongue-tied, boring gay man. However, beneath that calm, rather bland exterior beats the heart of an alpha-male, just the type of man Eric is seeking.
The novel is told from Eric’s point of view and encompasses one sexual escapade after another, with Eric always in vain pursuit of that “lasting” relationship that he sees on display so beautifully in his friends Adam and Jesse, as well as partners Benji and Rick. Along this road, Eric meets Rafael. Originally picking him up as a way to escape a torturous date with Alex, Eric swiftly falls for the suave and dramatic Rafael. However before long, Eric realizes that Rafael is not all he seems, and their relationship begins to take on a somewhat twisted nuance when Rafael asks Eric to participate in threesomes with what becomes a steady stream of men.
Meanwhile, another of Eric’s friends, Terry, has hooked up with Alex and they have become lovers. As Eric watches this relationship blossom and continues to grow more and more concerned over his own inability to truly find love with Rafael, the beginnings of a thwarted love story begins to unfold between Eric and Alex. There is heat, attraction between the two men, but due to a series of half-and mis-communications, they are never really able to confess their true feelings for one another.
Interwoven throughout this story is one sexual hook-up after another, each one less plausible than the other and some (the threesome between Adam, Jesse, and Eric) are downright uncomfortable to read. That particular threesome was a one-time deal in order for Jesse to experience what it’s like to “top.” Because of a former trauma, Adam is too uncomfortable to bottom for Jesse but wants to provide the experience for him so that their relationship remains stable and exclusive. WHAT??? It is just such a story thread that had me scratching my head over and over during the reading of this novel.
As the novel progresses, we watch as page after page unfolds with Eric pining for Alex, Alex pining for Eric, and the two passing like ships in the night. Rafael turns out to be a drug addict and ends up beating Eric nearly to death. Alex manages to save him, barely, and with another HUGE leap in the story, Eric is released from the hospital and into Alex’s bed where seemingly days after the beating he is having sex in the shower with Alex. Again, WHAT?? A day before Eric was relieving himself into a bucket because he could not walk. Not to mention Eric believes that Alex is still in a relationship with Terry, Eric’s friend. I found myself liking Eric less and less as this novel progressed!
And so the story goes, on and on…with one confusing plot decision after another and always with the constant slightly sarcastic and sadly self-condemning voice of Eric giving us a blow by blow of his life and frequent sexual encounters. Honestly, I have never see a hornier group of men in my life. The sex is hot. The eventual love story between Alex and Eric is sweet. The friends are good guys, admittedly promiscuous to a fault, but good guys. So what went wrong here? Why couldn’t this story stay on track and be a 4 or 5 star story?
I believe that Erica Pike had the makings of a really good author but needs to edit, edit, edit. This sprawling novel should have been pared down and focus given to Eric’s overwhelming need to use sex as a way of feeling good about himself. His revelation toward the end of the story that he felt he was seen as only a “manwhore” was so very sad and honestly was never really negated by anyone, including Eric himself. It was all too much! Rather than focus on the story that needed to be told, Pike chose to throw in obligatory sexual encounters as a means to advance the plot—never a good idea.
Overall, the storylines were terribly scattered, but those between Rafael and Eric, Eric and Alex, and interestingly Benji and Eric’s friendship—these were really good—solid and believable. The constant sexual come-ons, hook-ups, and interchanging partners left me dizzy and less than fulfilled.
I have rated Absolutely Eric with 3 stars. I admit that given the thrust of this review that may see a bit generous, however, I did so because I believe that within this novel lay a good story—a solid story that was simply badly in need of editing and reshaping.
Note: Absolutely Eric will be released by MLR Press on May 11th