Rating: 2.5 stars
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Jeremy is a dedicated scientist pursuing his Ph.D. in HIV/AIDS research. His goal is to provide a better delivery system and a more effective drug for AIDS patients. But money is tight and his grants barely cover his lab costs. Desperate for funds, he signs on to be a serving boy at an exclusive Dining Club for men. Men who want more than dinner and who enjoy disrobing their serving boy one course at a time.
Brice is a high-powered attorney for a company that funds different projects, such as AIDS research. His love life is lackluster and he is rather skeptical when an office mate invites him to the Dining Club for a night of fun. Little does he know that his serving boy will capture more than his interest…but can a man who is obviously selling himself for money be an eventual partner that Brice can trust?
The premise for Dirty Dining was an interesting one. A fresh take on the rent boy turned lover trope, I had high hopes for this novel. Quite frankly, if the story had been anything like the last 15% of the book, this review would have a very different outcome. It is apparent by the last few chapters of this book that author E.M. Lynley can craft a valid and interesting story line with a bit of tension and a few twists and turns. However, the preceding 85% of this novel was just an example of too many sex scenes strung together with too little story to make them interesting.
Jeremy’s motivation for getting together enough money for a new bike (his mode of transportation) and living expenses was real enough and the fact that he needed to be in the lab at all hours of the day and night watching over his experiments was a reasonable roadblock to normal 9 to 5 work. However, to make the leap from needing cash fast to what amounts to a striptease and rent me by the hour scenario was just a bit farfetched. Where was his family? Friends? Surely there was somewhere he could have turned to before diving into the dining club arrangement. We never find out due to the fact that we never really got any back-story on either character. For instance, we know that Brice had a former lover, Greg, and they were fairly involved, but why they broke up and what led to that event was not really fleshed out in the narrative. In fact, there was so very little to this story other than continuous sex scenes that I got very frustrated by the lack of any real storyline.
Sex is great! When it is used as a means of furthering a story, establishing love between two characters that are in need, or simply the goal of a beautifully written love story, sex scenes can be some of the best moments in a novel. However, sex with no or little story, flung on the page chapter after chapter is not what I am looking for in my reading material. I need more—I need a journey of some sort where characters are established and change and create something together. Even the big fight moment that drove Brice and Jeremy apart seemed so stilted. The reasons each had for mistrusting the other possibly could have been stretched to seem valid, but without more story line to establish their relationship outside the Dining Club it nearly impossible for me to believe that Brice had fallen in love with Jeremy, whom he still treated him much like a rent boy.
I believe this author has the ability to write a story that has more than just constant sex in it—and I want to try another work by E.M. Lynley before I make any further judgments. But Dirty Dining was a clear miss for me. I wanted that last 15% to be more—I wanted to know these characters because what little was revealed about them was interesting. I wanted a story and, unfortunately, that was the key piece lacking to make this a great book.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.