private partyRating: 2.5 stars
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Length: Novella

Private Party, book two in the ongoing series about Stephen Spears and his life, started out well.  I have mentioned before that I truly appreciate Graeme Aitken’s sharp and subtle humor and in the opening pages of this novel it was back and in full throttle.  I watched with a bit of glee as Stephen grappled with whether or not to join Gaydar, an online meet-up chat line.   I took particular delight in the opening moments of the novel as Stephen attends a quiet dinner with his mother and uncle, whom he silently belittles as being too needy and sexually promiscuous.  This is doubly funny as Stephen himself has constant one night stands in the saunas and bathhouses of Sydney.

However, as this novel progressed and Stephen began to hook up with others on the hotline and then inadvertently play host to a full on orgy, I felt the novel begin to slip…the writing become a bit sloppy and the zing, the verve that the characters normally had. took on a jaded and somewhat whiny tone.  I think this was mainly due to an absence of all of Stephen’s immediate friends, Blair, Ant, and Strauss, as well as limited interaction with his ex, Blake.  These secondary characters are the author’s real goldmine.  They are such a foil, a perfect accompaniment to Stephen’s character that without them, he is lost and almost one dimensional.  Unfortunately, none of the characters at the orgy scene, which took up quite a bit of page space in this second book, clicked as well.

Before I continue, let me assure you that the orgy scene was more comedy than full on sex—although that was present as well.  However, because we did not know much, if anything, about these characters I found my interest in them fairly fleeting and not enough to hold my attention for long.

Given all that, the storyline that finally has Damon (Blake’s friend) and Stephen confronting one another was very well done.  By the end of this novella, I hated Damon with a passion and the resolution Aitken opts to use is a sweet victory for Stephen and one that had me pumping my fist in the air with glee.

This second story leads us to believe that the online experience Stephen encounters is a definitive turning point in both his life and his thinking.  He is left with a somewhat sour taste in his mouth and still alone, unattached, and not quite over Blake as he had hoped.  So, while this installment was just a so-so next chapter, I find myself eager to read the third book in this trilogy to see just how some of the various threads of Stephen’s life are going to be laced together and which will be cut away for good.

All in all, Private Party by Graeme Aitken, while not as successful as his previous two novels, does continue to move the story along and lead us to the third and final segment—one which I anticipate will return to the raucous and zany fun that we found in the first two.