Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short story
Aidan Walker is a seasoned mountain climber, but when a sudden accident leaves him clinging to a rock face without a rope, he is sure this is the end of for him. Just as he is about to give up hope, rescue comes in the form of professional climber Matt Raine who manages to stabilize Aidan with his own body. While they wait for help to arrive, Matt flirts with Aidan outrageously, hoping the provocation will help keep Aidan conscious even though he knows Aidan is straight and not interested. Yet both guys get turned on by the conversation, and after the rescue, neither man can stop thinking of the other.
Aidan is surprised by his feelings of attraction to Matt, but not freaked out. He has always appreciated male bodies but never really pursued his interest, always assuming himself straight. But he wants to give Matt some time while he finishes training for his rock climbing competition. And Matt is determined to pursue things with the hot Aidan, sure that he can entice the straight guy into interest. When he pays a visit to Aidan at work, it becomes clear that things are definitely heating up between the guys and they may be able to make things work between them.
I was drawn to this story by the rock climbing, life in danger aspect. I was interested in seeing how this intense, near death experience would kick start a relationship. And I really liked this set up, with the drama of the rescue. When the guys get together there is a lot of heat and there are some interesting issues brought up, such as Matt’s recent coming out, Aidan exploring his feelings for men, etc. I just felt that in this short space, too many things happen and as a result most are not really well developed.
My biggest issue is the instalove/instant attraction the men feel for one another. I get the intensity of their first meeting would certainly jump start things, and I am even willing to accept the rush of adrenaline making each of them hard and turned on as they hang on for their very lives. But within a week (and after one night together) they are already a couple, ready to spend their lives together. They have probably spent less than 30 minutes in each other’s presence prior to that night. In fact, Matt is already sure he wants Aidan after just their time on the cliff. I get intense feelings turning into sex, but it felt way too fast for long term love (and Aidan’s comments to a potential sponsor for Matt seemed WAY out of line given their fledgling relationship).
I think Aidan’s acceptance of his interest in men worked well in this short format. We see him react to Matt with interest, reflect a bit on his feelings towards men, and decide he is comfortable pursuing this relationship. Again, a bit quick, but I could still buy it. But I was bugged a lot by Matt’s attitude. He comes across sort of predatory, with an attitude of determination to convert this straight boy. Here are his thoughts immediately after they are rescued:
There was only one ass he wanted now. Aidan Walker was his, but Matt knew he had his work cut out for him. Never in his life had he ever been remotely interested in a straight man, it just wasn’t worth it. Many of them lived so deep in the closet and it was a never-ending battle to convince them to come out. A battle not often worth the pain, but this time it might be different.
Matt resigned himself to training hard over the next two weeks before the championships and giving Aidan time to heal up. Then he’d go and hunt him down. That man should enjoy his last weeks as a straight boy because once Matt laid his hands and mouth on him, the man would be irrevocably one hundred percent gay.
So not only did this feel predatory to me rather than romantic, but it came across as confusing. Matt says he never goes after straight men because they are living deeply in the closet. Well, only if they aren’t actually straight. And does he think Aidan is straight, or gay but in denial or unaware? Because I am not a fan of the idea that he is out to “turn Aidan gay.” Do we really need that kind of stereotype adding fuel to the homophobes? That gay men are out seeking to turn them gay? I think the idea of Aidan exploring his sexuality and realizing he is interested in men works fine here, I just think Matt’s aggressiveness just comes across badly.
For me I think this story would have worked better with some more focus on the core relationship and less on some of the other side issues. This is a short story and obviously there isn’t time to develop every element. But we get a side story that is never really developed about Matt’s sponsors pulling out when they find out he is gay, as well as one about Aidan’s sister Taryn being in a coma. I think the story would have benefited by tightening up the core elements involving Aidan and Matt and giving more time to their relationship development.
So overall this story worked for me in some ways and not in others. I think if you are looking for something light and quick and hot, this might work for you despite my issues. But I think I needed to see more relationship development for the quick love story to really come together for me.
Cover review: Oh, I like this one. Not sure if it is unique to this story or the cover for the series, but either way, it works for me!