His face moved skin mags like they were going out of style. His submissive side made him a hot commodity in porn. Stoney Martin knew how to use his good looks to get what he wanted, and he wanted what he got. When a favor for a friend ended in a vicious attack that robbed Stoney of his beatific face, he knew his life was over. But he didn’t let that stop him from carving out a mean existence working a bodega in downtown New York City—it wasn’t glamorous, but Stoney was too proud to accept any charity. He was determined to make it on his own terms.
If there was one constant in Hud Spencer’s life, it was that a certain adult entertainer named Stoney Martin got him revved up. Hud subscribed to the guy’s magazines and knew he’d always find a happy ending there. When the steady stream of Stoney came to an abrupt end, Hud was disappointed, but figured the man had moved on to bigger and better things. It was a random cab ride that clued him into the fact that his shining star might be a bit closer than he ever imagined—only as far away as the local newsstand, in fact.
Determined to make a connection, Hud strikes out to find Stoney’s newsstand and befriend the man. Little does he expect to feel a powerful and instant attraction. If that throws Hud for a loop, Stoney is absolutely floored to realize that despite having a ruined face, he might still find a modicum of happiness in the arms of another man. A man who is, in fact, incredibly rich. Hud is convinced he is merely acting in Stoney’s best interest when he offers to pay for the surgery necessary to restore Stoney’s glorious good looks. Stoney, on the other hand, wants to believe Hud’s only acting out of kindness…but even Stoney knows there are limits to a man’s generosity.
Hud and Stoney can build a relationship when they’re two anonymous people, but can they survive their own insecurities once Stoney’s career thrusts him back in the lime light?
This was not a very enjoyable book to read for me. Even from the get-go, I felt certain aspects of it were overwrought but under explained. This sort of is the overall theme of the various plot elements. It starts with the introductory scene with Stoney where we see him working in a diner, and the botched robbery that leaves him scarred goes on and on, but it doesn’t really add to the drama because I wasn’t familiar with any of the characters yet. It just sort of made me cringe at trying to read and imagine all the ways a guy can ruin another guy’s face with an improvised implement (but it wasn’t gore-for-gore’s sake, either).
This “sound and fury signifying nothing” is very thematic in the relationship that “developed” between Stoney and Hud. I disliked how domineering, demanding, and dickish Hud is when he initially pursues Stoney. Stoney is aggressively disinterested in ANYTHING to do with Hud, but Hud just can’t leave well enough alone. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Hud physically forces Stoney into being acquaintances, but only just. Here, too, it wasn’t just one or two encounters, but a long, drawn out episode where Hud just keeps badgering Stoney, following him in a cab, chasing him as he flees—not the best material for One True Love stories in my opinion.
Stoney, as a character, fares a bit better after his meeting with Hud. Here, I found the psychology interesting. Stoney discovers that he actually enjoys having the attention of another man again—especially after he’d cut himself off from the general public after being mutilated. But the longer he and Hud are together, and especially after Hud starts to offer to pay for surgery to fix Stoney’s face, we see Stoney struggle with the question of whether Hud actually feels anything for Stoney “as-is.” This gets played up even more when Stoney accuses Hud of trying to hide their relationship from the world because Hud is ashamed of Stoney’s scars.
Stoney swings 180 degrees the other direction after Hud pays to fix his face, though. This, too, is interesting when viewed through the lens of armchair psychology. It’s easy to see that Stoney wants to, and does, reclaim a spot in the public eye. He revels in it. And given how bitter he has been about having LOST his good looks and how adamant he is about paying Hud back for helping him out, Stoney is convinced the only thing he can do is return to porn. This is a bone of contention between Hud and Stoney, but from the moment Stoney’s face is healed from the reconstructive surgery, the two drift further and further apart until they’re as cagey as they were when Hud first forcibly pursues Stoney.
Mostly, I think the portrayal of the two main characters is extreme to the point of distraction. At least with Hud, he’s pretty much a power top kind of guy who can’t understand how or why anyone would misunderstand his intentions—even when he comes off way too strong. As for Stoney, he starts out being utterly full of contempt for everyone and everything, then switches on a dime to being wholly accepting of having Hud in his life, but switches again to disdainfully independent once he gets his face back. You never know where Stoney stands, but you know he’ll be extreme in his actions—it’s all or nothing for him, but you never know if it’s all *hell yea!* or *hell no!*
The general idea about a well-meaning knight in shining armor and wary dude in distress were okay, but I think these roles suffer from over-the-top writing. That said, if you want some pure melodrama peppered with plenty of action between the sheets and an HEA where at last the characters show a measure of maturity, you might enjoy this story.