Rating: 3 stars
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Troy Kline is in college working to obtain his degree in video game design, but his side gig is breaking up with people for a hundred bucks a pop. He is quite good at it, likely because he has no emotional ties to anyone. Troy has not been given many positive opportunities in life, but when he’s paid to break up with hunky Rebel, he finds himself confronted by the stuff of fantasies. Rebel is one of the hottest guys on the Ballsy Boys porn site and Troy has enjoyed his videos more than once. So the chance of a quick hook up seems perfect.
But Rebel is more than a porn star and he’s tired of one-night stands and relationships that crumble when people find out he is in porn. Meeting Troy seems to good to be true, because he doesn’t care about Rebel’s job and has no intention of asking him to quit. Troy is skittish of caring about others though and as their casual friendship begins to evolve into something more, Rebel will have to convince Troy that love is worth fighting for or he risks losing him forever.
Rebel is the first in a new series, the Ballsy Boys. We find out in drips and drabs that Troy’s childhood was pretty rough and as a result he has closed himself off as an adult. And as a reader, I do have some sympathy for him, but he doesn’t feel like a particularly deep character. He’s not quite shallow, but nor does he have any meaningful layers to his personality. Rebel is nearly a wooden figure and while we know a little about his past, he seems almost bland and I’m not sure that’s what the authors intended. He wants to be more than a sex object, but that’s the only vibe he projects.
While the end seems unnecessarily rushed and rather out of step with the rest of the book, Rebel communicates its intent decently enough. The story as a whole tends to match the tenor of its characters – more superficial than deep and lacking the meat to make it a truly great book. The sex is extensive and often feels out of place. These two characters tend to use sex as a stopgap when their emotions fail. Even though this is a real enough behavior for couples, Rebel and Troy also lack any connection while having sex. So their every interaction reads as stale, flat, and not particularly engaging.
I wanted to enjoy Rebel more than I did. The premise is certainly an interesting one and had there been some gravity to the story and a deeper exploration of its characters, it could have been an excellent read. As it is, Rebel isn’t bad, but it fails to capitalize on all it story had to offer.