Justin lives alone with his grandmother, the two of them barely able to make ends meet between her social security and his part time job. And now, after 30 long years of work, stress, and smoking, his grandmother needs another surgery. Justin would do anything for his grandmother; after all, hasn’t she done everything for him? To get the money they need, Justin decides to get a job at Eros Elite and sell his body and his virginity for as much as he can.
Adam is the youngest son of a powerful mafia family. The Creeds deal in drugs, guns, and anything else that catches their fancy. It’s a rough and violent life, and it’s one Adam wants out of. He’s tired of the bullshit, the bullying, his brothers … just, all of it. But this one last job could get him enough money and enough time to finally break free from his family. Until then, Adam decides to visit his friend’s business and make use of the services on offer.
Justin, with his red briefs and shyness, appeals to Adam. Something about the boy’s innocence and enthusiasm makes Adam want to see more of him and to do more to him. One visit turns into two, and two to three, but even that isn’t enough. Adam wants to see Justin outside of Eros. He wants, well, he wants a date. He wants to have dinner, and a kiss, and maybe — if he’s lucky — a real connection.
Justin has recently turned 21. He has no real friends, just someone he hangs out with at his part time job, and spends the rest of the time reading in his room or sitting with his grandmother. He’s eager to be touched, fantasizing about having someone’s hands on him, someone that isn’t him. He wants to be kissed, held, seduced, and made love to, ravished and fucked. For Justin, all of this is a bit of a game. One where he gets everything he ever wanted — money and lots of it, sex with mysterious men, and … that’s pretty much it.
Adam is older, already into his 30s and has long since grown tired of the lifestyle his family leads. For the past few years, he’s done his best to ease away from them. He got a part-time job at a grocery store, got an apartment of his own, bought furniture and clothes, and is trying to squirrel away enough to let him get away from the city. But when he sees Justin’s body, sees how eagerly the young man responds to him, he’s lost head over heels and never once looks back. Now it’s not just dreams of leaving, it’s leaving with Justin at his side.
This story fell so very flat, for me. From start to finish, it just never worked. While the writing is solid and the characters are there, the pacing is a bit uneven and the story didn’t come together for me. Justin never had a character arc; he went to get money and have sex, and life was peachy keen from then on. Adam’s arc was wobbly, but present, until the end when everything he did didn’t matter at all. The threat of his father, built up to be a tyrant and monster, didn’t really materialize. There is a momentary blip of action that never went anywhere and, as far as I could tell, had no real relevance to the story. Adam wasn’t an anti-hero because he was never anti-anything. He didn’t do ‘bad stuff,’ he didn’t commit violence, but he also did nothing heroic or indicative of — for lack of a better word — hero. I got more character out of Adam than I did Justin, though.
It very much felt as if all the pieces were there, but they never got put together in the right way. I felt zero investment in the story and even less in the characters. Personally, this is a hard pass. There’s just not enough of anything to sink your teeth into to make it worth reading for me.