It’s not the posing nude for Skylar Novak that has Matthew Rhodes tied up in knots, it’s the consuming attraction he feels from the moment he steps into Skylar’s studio. That attraction is hard to quell given Matthew is determined to finally come to grips with his being gay; it’s even harder to stem when Matthew realizes Skylar feels the same pull in Matthew’s direction. After a burning hot afternoon under the camera, these two cannot help but consume their passion.
For Matthew, he feels sweet relief. After years of living in the closet, he relishes being able to fully express himself and explore his true sexuality. Skylar also feels a deep-seated sense of completion—yet all is not entirely perfect; Skylar has a secret he fears will send Matthew running. To add to the complexity, both men feel a touch of the supernatural when in Skylar’s studio in the form of an old ghost. What’s more, they both fear it is this pull from beyond the veil that shaping their feelings for one another, if not outright controlling their desires.
The secret to unraveling Matthew and Skylar’s powerful connection lies, in part, in the hands of the owner of the local new-age store. The other secret lies in the history of Skylar’s haunted abode. These two lovers must first decide if they are willing to risk their sexually charged relationship in order to find discover the truth, or suffer the consequences of remaining locked in a fog of mutual, if perhaps fabricated, lust.
For a story comprised of two main characters, two supporting characters, and a ghost, there is certainly a lot going on. First and foremost, the strongest impression I got was straight up erotica. While the character development was limited at best, it was sort of fun to watch Matthew right at the very moment he not only commits to exploring his homosexuality, but also being able to act on it. I’m not 100% sure that really constitutes “development,” but it did give a bit of credence to the “got to get it now now now” attitude he’s got when he meets and subsequently poses for Skylar. The two supporting characters, Matthew’s roommate Jeff and a local bookshop owner Olga, range from middlingly dislikable to downright loathsome. I find myself surprised that the almost homophobic roommate is the middling dislikable one—but that’s because the bookshop owner came off as ridiculous-bordering-on-asinine. At least with the roommate, there’s a hinted at relationship between Matthew and Jeff. They might never be the very best of friends, but they like each other well enough to share an living quarters by choice. The bookshop owner, however, just comes across as tooth-grindingly forced.
BUT there’s all that hot and heavy sex with Matthew and Sky. I was in the mood for something mindlessly fucktastic, so that helped. Also being bombarded with sexcapades for the first third or so of the book inured me somewhat to the sharp dive in reading-induced-pleasure when the bookshop owner enters the picture—and refuses to shut the fluff up and let us get back to the drama unfolding between Matthew and Sky.
And what is that drama? Well, namely that Skylar feels attuned to the supernatural, but to far more intimate effect than simply “I hear things go bump in the night.” I’ll save the details about HOW we know he’s being haunted, but suffice it to say, that tidbit does give a bit more depth of explanation to how and why Skylar (and eventually Matthew) feel so drawn to one another. I actually liked the set-up for Skylar and Matthew getting together. It’s not until the end, when the ghost, Arturo, is finally able to explain the circumstances that lead to his living in limbo that we find out the specifics about how and why Matthew and Skylar fall for each other. That said, I thought Eastwick did a respectable job peppering the story with details and hints that all get pulled together rather neatly once the ghost spills the beans.
All that said, despite all the fun I had reading about insanely attractive people having insanely hot sex, the overall story rates pretty “meh” in my book. The overall narrative felt a bit disjointed because it focuses on the MCs to the exclusion of everything else, then abruptly shifts the focus away from their intensely physical connection. Plus, there’s the matter of the writing. I shall now regale you with a few choice examples that left me gaping at the sheer absurdity of the descriptions.
Fucking hell, I wanted to drink from his majestic penis till the end of time.
(Does anyone call a penis a “penis” in the heat of the moment?)
I luxuriated in Sky’s ambrosial companionship, lounging on the couch with my head in his lap, savoring his tender touch, relishing his blessed affection.
(I get that being with Sky is a near religious experience, but still…and there’s that subtle mixing of pantheons.)
A disjointed and indistinguishable series of tones cut off my words. The noise sounded almost like a distant human voice, only one being played backward on a tape recorder at varying speeds and put through a variety of filters that muffled it and gave it a slightly metallic quality.
(First of all, it feels like a juxtaposition to use “disjointed” and “indistinguishable” to describe the same thing. Not to mention the oddly hyper-specific nature of describing the sound.)
If you like a book that’s heavy on the sex, challenges the MCs to broaden their sexual horizons, has some pretty ridiculously purpose prose, and dabbles with paranormal stuff without making you worry about the whys and wherefores of spiritual activity in the mortal plane, I think you’d still enjoy this book. But if you’re looking for a thoughtfully crafted story, this will probably disappoint.