keeping sweetsRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

On the day of his graduation, Evan Lowry has a suitcase packed and catches a bus to Oregon as soon as the ceremony is finished. He’s leaving behind a stepfather who hates him and the memory of a dead mother who didn’t exactly take care of him even when she was alive. Life hasn’t been easy for Evan, and it’s just about to get harder. He has a scholarship to college in Eugene, Oregon, but he has a summer ahead of him and very little money to his name. He needs to find a job and make some money so he can pay for his expenses once school starts.

Evan applies for a job as a model with Sonic Studios and doesn’t realize, until he starts researching the company, that it is actually a porn studio. In a moment of desperation and, he has to admit, some excitement, he agrees to an interview with Lex, the head of the studio and Noah, the studio’s most popular and prolific porn star. It doesn’t take long for both men to see that Evan has star quality, and that his status as a virgin will only make him more attractive to viewers. At the same time, Evan is becoming more and more captivated by the experienced, world-weary Noah, and the chemistry they feel at the audition is difficult to ignore.

The shoot they’re casting for takes place at a beach house on the coast of Oregon, and Evan, along with six other men, will spend a month there shooting scenes, with Noah as a first-time director. Noah has taken Evan under his wing, which includes scheduling himself for his first scene, not trusting anyone else with Evan’s virginity. Their chemistry is undeniable, which makes for a bit of a mess on the set of a porn shoot. It’s a strange place to fall in love, but there’s nothing that can stop these two from exploring their feelings as well as each other’s bodies.

First of all, this book is straight-up porn. I want to make sure you know this up front. There is very little about this book that does not directly involve the porn industry, porn stars, or porn shoots. Please don’t say, “Amy, I can’t believe you didn’t warn me that this book has a bunch of porn stars having sex!” because I will say, “Duh.” with all the love I have in my heart.

I find the world of porn a fascinating one, and I know I’m not the only one. The fantasy of the lives behind the scenes of porn stars and porn videos is one of the things that makes it a multi-gajillion dollar business. We all want to believe that those men who are pretending to be crazy about each other are actually not faking it. They fall in love, have hot monkey sex 17 times a day, and live happily ever after. So, I think the world of porn, while a seemingly not romantic setting, makes for a sexy, interesting backdrop for a love story.

This is not to say that porn is glorified in this book, though I would say it puts a positive spin on the industry as a whole. Of course I loved Evan and Noah (or Bran, his real name), but I also enjoyed the camaraderie between all of the men in the house. Maybe it was idealistically portrayed, but I liked the idea that the guys were friends, were hooking up behind the scenes and supporting one another when they needed it. Don’t destroy my porn fantasies with all too likely depictions of drug habits and animosity and a business-only mentality! Let a girl dream!

I fell in love with Evan from the very beginning. He’s a cliché, to be sure. The virgin innocent, who’s never had sex before but jumps head first into the porn industry. But he’s also sweet and adorable (yes, I love a good twink), with an inner strength and fight, even though he’s been broken down his entire life. And his foil, the gorgeous Bran, who has only ever done porn but does it well, who has come to expect nothing from life and shuts himself down, until he meets someone who makes him feel something he never thought possible. They’re quite simply lovely together.

There’s nothing revolutionary going on here. Ashwood tells a sweet love story here, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been told many times before, with the exception of the steamy setting. And, once again, we see the major conflict occur due to a lack of communication between MCs. When the conflict could’ve been avoided with a good 15 minute sit down, I get a little frustrated.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and the fact that it is Cate Ashwood’s debut novel is impressive. I hope what is happening here is that the cast of characters we have been introduced to in this book will each of stories of their own, and I will look forward to reading each one of them.

Amy sig