Title: Super Sock Man
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: Novella
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Rating: 4.5

Donnie Armstrong has lusted after his sister’s roommate Alejandro Castellanos since he was 16 years old and helped them move in together.  Watching Alejandro lift boxes in his white spandex shorts was more than enough to convince Donnie that this was the man for him.  Over the  next several years, Donnie’s crush hasn’t faded, and in fact has turned into more as the men get to know each other better.  But he still worries Yandro sees him as nothing but Chelle’s younger brother.

In fact, Yandro has definitely noticed that the gawky 16-year-old with a crush has turned into a gorgeous young man.  He loves Donnie’s enthusiasm and vitality and the color he brings to Alejandro’s bland life.  After years of going from one man to another without much regard for their feelings, Alejandro has finally grown up enough to realize that this is not making him happy, nor is it so fair to the men in his life.  He recognizes that Donnie’s crush has turned into real feelings, and Alejandro definitely has feelings for Donnie in return, but he isn’t sure he should be starting something with this inexperienced young man, especially given his own past relationship failings.

Yandro and Chelle are both dancers who spend a lot of time traveling and Donnie stays at their house taking care of their pets when they are gone.  One night he stumbles upon a pair of socks that Yandro’s grandmother knit, along with Yandro’s stash of erotic art books.  The combination provides enough of a turn on for Donnie that he ends up falling asleep naked in Alejandro’s bed, only to be discovered when Alejandro returns home early from a trip.  And this scene turns out to be just enough to finally jump start things between them.

Super Sock Man has been expanded from the original free story Lane published for the Goodreads Hot Summer Days event into a more substantial novella.  It takes the primary scene of Donnie wearing the socks and falling asleep in Yandro’s bed and develops a more in-depth story that provides much more detail on each character and their relationship.  We learn that Alejandro comes from a wealthy Venezuelan family who would not be at all supportive of his sexuality. They help provide him with a very comfortable lifestyle that allows him to dance, but he must hide his real self from them.  His world is very bland and proper, and he is incredibly drawn to the lovely, shiny and bright Donnie.

We also get some more insight to Donnie, and see more of a progression from teenager to man.  One interesting side story involves Donnie and his best friend Chase.  Prior to Donnie starting his relationship with Alejandro, he and Chase do some experimenting together, mostly consisting of Donnie giving Chase handjobs and Chase refusing to reciprocate on the grounds that he is “not gay.” As the story continues, it becomes clear that Chase is in fact gay, but unable to admit it or accept in himself, instead choosing to start dating a woman instead.  This is a really interesting side story because we see the contrast so well with Donnie’s accepting family and confidence in himself, versus Chase who knows his father will freak out and just isn’t emotionally ready to face the truth about himself.  After finishing the book, I realized that Chase is actually the main character in Lane’s Chase in Shadows, although I believe you could easily read either book as a standalone.

I will say I was a bit confused on some of Alejandro’s issues of dissatisfaction with his life.  He comments frequently on the blandness of his life, and that Donnie brings some much needed color.  And I totally see that Donnie is so sunny and lively and why he brings joy to Yandro’s life. But I am not clear why Yandro is living in such a stifled way in the first place.  We know that he can not be out to his parents, but we also know he is living totally openly in America while they are in Venezuela.  If he can date and hook up with endless men outside of their reach, certainly he can also live a more relaxed, informal lifestyle as well.  Does he really need Donnie to make that happen?  I just wish this had been explained a bit more.  I also felt a tiny bit squicky at Donnnie’s sister Chelle’s close proximity when the guys first hook up.  I am not sure she would have appreciated hearing her brother’s enthusiastic orgasms while she is just down the hall, especially since he is younger and quite inexperienced.  But the guys do get her out of the way before the big stuff happens, so it’s not too bad.

For those of you who are Amy Lane fans like me, I think you will find this story quite different from much of her other work.  This is a sweet confection of a story, filled with lovely characters happily finding their way to love.  There isn’t much conflict here, and certainly none of the author’s trademark angst.  There are issues to work through, but most of the story is about two men realizing their attraction for one another, acting on it (quite enthusiastically) and finding their happily ever after. I quite enjoyed it and found it a great, light read.

P.S. Love the fish socks! And for you knitters out there, Lane includes a pattern to make yourself a pair. I’m dying for some!

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