Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story

Iwan lives in a small, dead-end town in Wales where jobs only come day-to-day and the most entertainment comes from drinking and hanging out by the corner grocer. Iwan has known he was different since he was younger. With no romantic prospects, Iwan finds himself a virgin in his twenties and wants to correct that problem as soon as possible. The only place in town known to be a hook-up spot is the barracks by the dock. Iwan has been fantasizing about a guy there named Jonah for ages and wants to approach him at the barracks but is afraid that his lack of expertise will only leave Jonah laughing at him.

Before he can find the courage to approach Jonah, Iwan is determined to have at least one experience with a man. He sets out to hire a prostitute he found online, but first he needs to come up with the money to pay the man. Iwan sets out on a journey to gain more experience and maybe gain a bit of confidence in the process.

The decision to do something to change his virgin status comes easy to Iwan. Once he makes this decision, there is nothing that could hold him back from making the move. And, in the end, it truly does teach him about more himself. The confidence he gained in the one encounter helped him move forward to accept himself and the lot life had dealt him.

I will start out by saying that Portside is not a happily ever after story. It can be categorized as happy for now, but it’s really more of a “finding one’s self” story.

Portside started off fairly slow and the pace of the book remained about the same throughout. It was harder for me to read the first time around but gained more meaning for me the second time I read it. The pace of the book relates more to the pace of the town – slower than the bigger cities. I only wish there would have been action; maybe more dialogue would have helped.

I enjoyed the friendship between Iwan and his childhood friend Lyn.  She seems to be the only one who knew of Iwan’s fascination with Jonah. She also seemed to be the only person to understand Iwan. They supported each other in their romantic lives and even their family lives. They had a special bond that only comes from growing up together. One can’t help but respect the bond between the two.

There were some aspects that I would have preferred to have more detail. Iwan lived with his mother and Rhys. I’m a little confused as to who Rhys was though. I assume that he was Iwan’s mom’s boyfriend or maybe husband, or even Iwan’s brother. I’m really not sure. I also would have liked to know an actual age for Iwan. The only mention of his age was that “he had a good five years, at least, on the rest of the virgins.” So I just estimated in my head that he’s in his twenties.

The author did a great job of describing the town itself – run-down, poor, end-of-the road. It kind of reminded me of Showtime’s Shameless (if South Chicago was a port town). I’m not sure if the Welsh town had a name or if it was actually called Portside. I only bring up the possibility of a name because the author made a point to name the bigger cities.

The book mainly focused on Iwan losing his virginity. With the loss of at least part of that virginity came a new person filled with confidence and determination. The fact that he gained experience didn’t change him who he was, it simply gave him a chance to take stock and accept his own reality. I enjoy that realism in this main character.

Cover: The cover by L.C. Chase helped set the main location. And the shadow of the man showed the feeling Iwan had about his own life – jobless virgin living in a run-down town. Great cover.

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