Rating: 4 stars
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When Scott is rescued from a bully in the university library, he is immediately attracted to his sexy hero. The guy pushes all of Scott’s buttons, from his looks to his commanding voice that makes Scott’s inner submissive stand up and take notice. Things like this never happen to Scott, but when the sexy man invites Scott upstairs for a private tour of one of the library rooms, Scott eagerly takes him up on it and super sexy times ensue.
Mark has had the hots for Scott for the past four years, seeing him at the library daily. But he never even got a hint of interest from Scott (who it turns out was just engrossed in his books and totally oblivious) so he never pursued him. But now it is clear that this shy, bookish guy is definitely interested and his eagerness to please totally intrigues Mark who definitely enjoys a little dominance in his sex. And after their hot library encounter, Mark definitely wants more with Scott.
The men are a perfect match for each other, sexually, emotionally, and intellectually. Both men have struggled to find others that are into their kinks. Mark has had one relationship with Dom/sub play that ended badly and has had trouble finding anything like that again. And Scott has never really been able to explore his submissive side and most of the guys he hooks up with are looking to get off quickly and be out of there. But he desperately wants some submission — to be tied up, to beg and show his need. So Mark and Scott fit so well sexually. They also are both bookworms, sharing a love of reading and learning. And both are looking for something more than just casual sex, wanting to find someone with whom they really connect.
But everything isn’t perfect for Mark and Scott. First off, they only have a few months left in the semester, after which Scott is off to graduate school in Michigan and Mark hopes to teach on the West Coast. And Bruce, the bully that was picking on Scott in the library, isn’t finished stirring up trouble, trying to cause conflict between the guys and even to threaten Mark’s chances at his Ph.D. Mark and Scott seem perfect for each other, but stumbling blocks threaten to destroy what could be a wonderful relationship.
More Than Just a Good Book began as a short story and has now been expanded into a full length novel (Chapter 1 incorporates the original short). It was first written as a serial on Parker’s web site and now has been released into a published work for purchase.
There was a lot here that I really liked. First, I really enjoyed the contrasts between Mark and Scott in terms of their experience level, both sexually and in a relationship. I also really liked the exploration of the BDSM (mostly D/s play and some light bondage activities). I always enjoy those “first time” type experiences so I really loved seeing Mark introduce Scott to new things and watching Scott thrive at finally finding someone who gets him, who can understand his needs and who is perfectly compatible sexually. They are super sexy together, but also so sweet and loving. Mark is so careful with Scott, working hard to make sure he is going at exactly the pace to keep Scott comfortable. They are both really doting on each other and I loved that sweet vs kinky contrast between them. And of course, as a reader, I loved the focus on books here. Scott is a voracious reader and Mark is a book lover as well. Scott is an aspiring author and there is a nice subplot about his entering a writing contest. I really loved how the men appreciate the other’s intelligence, how each has a love of books and of learning.
I think the area where I struggled is that it felt like the conflicts jumped around a lot. I think honestly this may be due in part to the serial nature of the original story. When a book is released in chunks with big intervals of time in between, I think it is harder to carry one conflict or major issue throughout the book. In this case I just felt like it was just one thing cropping up after another. First the men are dealing with the bully and the threats to both Scott and Mark. I think this issue was well developed and interesting, but it wraps up early and then [spoiler] weirdly Scott and Bruce become almost friends, which just didn’t work for me at all. I mean this guy threatened to RAPE Scott and tried to ruin Mark’s life. And then tried to break them up while he is basically stalked Scott. I just couldn’t find a soft spot for this guy, despite his own self-loathing for being gay. [/spoiler] After this, I felt like things just sort of jumped from one conflict to the next. A weird issue with the results of the writing contest that totally comes out of nowhere and didn’t seem to have a real plot purpose other than to make Bruce seem more endearing. Then even though they knew all along that they would be separating soon, suddenly it becomes an immediate problem. And then some issues are thrown in with Scott’s dad. It wasn’t that any of these were bad conflicts or poorly written or anything. It just felt like too many different directions for the story and I think a little more focus would have helped.
The only other small thing is I feel like the Mark we meet in Chapter 1 feels a little different from the Mark of the rest of the book, again presumably due to how this story was written. In the first chapter he is all aggressive Dom, strong and confident and certain what he wants. But the rest of the story he has a lot more self doubt and uncertainty about his role as a dominant partner. Again, I think the nature of the short means we only see the top layer of his character there, and I appreciated there was much more to Mark than we first see. But it just seemed like it didn’t totally fit between the two parts of the book.
Despite these issues, I really did enjoy this book and continue to love Parker’s work. I think my enjoyment of Mark and Scott together more than made up for any problems I had with the conflicts. Parker does a great job creating two really likable guys who are both sweet and hot. She captures that sense of young love well, as well as two young men who are on the cusp of their future and trying to figure it all out in life, love, and career. So overall I enjoyed this one and continue to be a huge fan of this author.