charlie rentboyRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novella

Charlie is a rentboy, working his way through college by selling himself for $250 an hour. Charlie loves sex and is good at it, so the job is great for him.  It is a lot easier and more fun than working at McDonalds for minimum wage, that’s for sure.

When Charlie is hired for the weekend by a new, and clearly wealthy, client, he is expecting someone older and not so attractive.  So he is surprised when the hotel door opens to a gorgeous young man who is shy and nervous.  John begins to share a lot of himself with Charlie (more than Charlie expects or even wants frankly), and Charlie realizes how lonely John is, a young man who lost both parents and is trying to run his father’s company and live out his legacy. John is not particularly experienced sexually, having to be in the closet due to his uncle’s disapproval and the media attention he faces from his high profile job.

Charlie finds he wants to put John at ease and to give him a wonderful experience.  Although Charlie knows better than to get emotionally involved with a client, he does find himself liking John and enjoying his company.  It seems like the guys have the makings of a great weekend of sex and fun together. But when things go wrong, it can change both of their lives.

So based on the blurb and the cover, I was expecting that this book was going to be sort of a light hearted and sex heavy story.  And to some extent, it was. But it was also filled with a sweetness and warmth that I wasn’t really expecting and that added a lot to this novella. I really appreciated how there is so much more here than just a basic tale of two guys having lots of sex.

Charlie is such a fun POV character, with his casual and irreverent attitude about his job.  Here is how Charlie begins introducing himself to us:

Hi, my name is Charlie, and I am a rentboy. Why, you might ask? Because college is fucking expensive, and if I’m going to become an engineer at some point before I die, I need to pay for school. So, the question is, do I want to make seven dollars an hour at McDonald’s or two hundred and fifty dollars for an hour long out call and still have time to study? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Now, for that two-fifty, guys definitely get their money’s worth. I’m easy to talk to, charming, and I’ve been blessed with an amazing ass. Besides my brain, it’s by far my best asset. And even though I’m versatile, my ass is what’s showcased on my escort ad, which means I get hired to bottom… a lot. That’s cool, though, since it pays my rent and keeps me in textbooks. I even get to eat when I remember between classes and clients.

But although he is matter of fact about what he does and is a bit on the jaded side, Charlie also has a kindness to him.  He is compassionate for poor, freaked out John and wants to give him a good experience. And as the men get to know each other, there is a sweetness between them that I wasn’t expecting. In fact, the ending is downright mushy.  It all provides a great contrast between the sexy times and the purely financial nature of their early relationship, and then the caring and sweetness the guys have as the story goes on.

My only issues with this one really come in relation to the conflict resolution, so in order to avoid giving away too much, I’m going to have to spoiler tag most of it.  My short version is that it felt somewhat unrealistic and a bit too forced in order to get the guys their happy ending, but click through the spoiler tag for details.  [spoiler] My biggest problem is that the resolution seemed like total overkill, and therefore a somewhat contrived way to bring these guys together for good. I get that we are trying to protect Charlie here by not revealing he is a rentboy. But honestly, isn’t that cat pretty much out of the bag? He has had tons of clients, people who would easily recognize that David is “Charlie.” Once the guys go public and his picture is everywhere, it seems totally impossible that one of his friends or former clients wouldn’t take advantage of the certainly guaranteed financial windfall from disclosing (or threatening to disclose) David’s past.  How is pretending they are boyfriends going to change that?  This seems an impossible secret to keep regardless. Along the same lines, if they can concoct this story of how the guys met that will pass media scrutiny, etc, why do they need to be “boyfriends” for a year? Can’t David have been a date? Someone John saw a few times and then it was over?  Why does he have to be a boyfriend for at least 6 months for this ruse to work? Again, it just felt like a way to get these guys together long term and didn’t really make total sense to me. [/spoiler]

But those issues aside, I really liked this one.  It is a nice mix of fun, sexy, and sweet. I liked both John and Charlie and found this a very entertaining story.  I’m looking forward to more in the series.

Cover Review: I really love Barnaby’s habit of using real models on her book covers rather than all stock photos.  In this case, Max Carter and Max Ryder of Cockyboys fame.  I am assuming Ryder (on the right) is representing Charlie, and he gets that vibe totally right.  Just the right mix of sexy intensity that feels very like Charlie. I am not sure Carter comes across as much like uber-rich and polished John.  Though John isn’t stuffy or anything, he is much more formal in dress and the way he presents himself.  So even though his features match John, I am not sure that is a perfect match to the image in my head. But still, nicely done.

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