Despite working with multiple high-end fashion campaigns, Matthew Gareson never really fell for model types. That is until Vince Valentino walks into his studio for a photoshoot that leaves Matthew hot and bothered. It takes all of Matthew’s will power just to finish the shoot without, well, shooting. The fact that Vince has ribald comments continually at the ready only stokes Matthew’s libido. But Matthew is nothing if not an excellent and professional photographer and manages to finish the assignment without accosting his subject. The two bump into each other sometime later at a local bar and, just like at the photo shoot, sexual tension is through the roof. Before jet setting off to another event, however, Vince makes sure to get Matthew’s contact details.
Fast forward a few days and Matthew and Vince make the time to meet up. As it turns out, their chemistry is the real thing. One date turns to two and before they know it, Matthew and Vince are declaring their love for one another. What started out as lust at first sight quickly develops into something deeper and these two are not shy on cementing their new-found happiness with a pair of wedding rings. The only problem is that given the nature of their jobs, making their physical connection and re-confirming their commitment is difficult when they’re on opposite ends of the globe. No matter how much Vince tries to convince Matthew that what they have is real, Matthew cannot help but feel inadequate—he knows he’s attractive, but he’s no model and worries he can’t compete with Vince’s old flames. Suddenly, the couple find themselves having to manage their expectations and the realization that love at first sight may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
There was a lot I enjoyed about Snapshots. For example, Matthew seems to have some body-image issues. Despite Vince frequently and vocally appreciating Matthew’s physical appearance and other characters commenting favorably about it as well, Matthew does not view himself as god’s gift to anyone and never lords his looks over others. I found this insecurity helped me appreciate Matthew more as a person, not just a love interest. As for Vince, he adopts a very casual attitude towards his physical appearance. I got the impression he regards his looks as merely a tool to earn a paycheck and is aware looks fade. Yet both Matthew and Vince are eager to voice their appreciation of their partner’s physical assets. I just enjoyed the way these characters didn’t take their hotness for granted. The flip side, however, is that a lot of the dialogue centers on how much they appreciate their partner’s assumed perfection—given how much sex there is on page, there is a lot of commenting.
Blackwell’s (copious) use of on-page physical intimacy really hit home the fact that this is a lust-at-first-sight book. I love me some hot, sweaty man sex, but I did find myself wondering if these characters would get up to anything outside the bedroom. Funnily enough, the longer I read and the more I saw Matthew and Vince interact with each other (mostly still in bed), I began to appreciate this approach because it was conveying something I don’t often see: love/lust at first sight story that focuses on exactly what draws these characters together—physical attraction. These two meet and fall in love in the space of two weeks before they get married, but the amount of time we spend with Matthew and Vince on page together, sharing the most intimate parts of themselves, somehow made this work. Of course, they were both concerned things were moving too fast, but they also had been playing the field long enough to know that what they felt for each other was unlike anything they’d felt before.
Moving into the actual relationship, not much seemed to change except the increased reference to “husband” instead of “boyfriend.” That said, the pivotal event is when Vince has to leave NYC for LA for a photoshoot. By this point, Matthew and Vince have been together for about four to six weeks total. I felt pretty comfortable with the characters. Vince is cool and in charge (power bottom) and Matthew is a shy kinkster (note: there is zero actual kink in the book, just passing references to wanting to tie one another up). Which is why I was thrown for such a loop when Matthew seems to have a near complete melt down when Vince goes away. I don’t think his self-image insecurities really prepared me for the way his “Vince is not here, now he’s sure to find someone better than me” insecurities almost take over his life. When something happens that plays on all of Matthew’s fears and insecurities, Matthew basically shuts down. His reaction felt extreme to me and incongruously melodramatic from an otherwise level-headed character with realistic flaws. The saving grace was that Vince both immediately recognizes the impact the situation would have on his husband and does not resort to histrionics of his own. To that end, I appreciated that Blackwell gives a slight nod to mental health issues when the characters briefly discuss the possibility of attending therapy and, regardless, reaffirming that they are in it for the long haul.
I only have two small other critiques. First, regarding the dialogue, both Vince and Matthew seem to overemploy the implied subject speech pattern. For example, “Wanna know what you like” instead of “I wanna know what you like.” In a print medium, this felt jarring to me to occur as often as it did. The other is perhaps more to do with the editing, but there were orphan apostrophes all over the place and it was sometimes distracting.
On the whole, this was a hot read that focuses on love-at-first-sight in a unique way. Our two main characters have enjoyable personalities that play well off each other, lending more credibility to the instalove theme. I liked the way Vince and Matthew’s fiery physical connection develops and reinforces their emotional bond.