Trevor has a new summer job cataloging a collection of books in the summer house of Mister Kinner, a very, very, very wealthy man, located in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It’ll practically be a vacation, since the house where Trevor will be working is located in one of the most luxurious resort areas of France, and Trevor should have enough free time to do some looking, some hooking up, and maybe even have a summer romance. The only downside of the whole thing is the housekeeper, Chao, who is prudish and stand-offish, albeit a drop-dead gorgeous specimen of manhood.
Unfortunately, Chao is straight and getting over a broken heart. Which is a shame because all Trevor wants to do is touch every inch of his skin, followed by licking and kissing it … and that’s just for starters. Alas, there’s no way this gorgeous god could ever fall for Trevor, whose physical traits are limited to tall and scrawny, and whose outgoing personality could make an extrovert want to take a nap. When the collection of books turns out to be just junk paperbacks suitable for beach reads, Trevor finds himself in need of something to entertain himself… and Chao is the perfect target.
For a housekeeper, Chao seems to be rather useless. He doesn’t know how to make coffee or where the cups are put. He does no dusting or vacuuming, and is well-off enough to afford name brand clothing, including buying Trevor a pair of swim trunks that cost nearly 800 euros. The more Trevor gets to know him the more he begins to realize he likes the guy, and not just because he’s hot. And maybe it’s his imagination, but Chao doesn’t seem to be quite as straight as Trevor thought he was.
This is the first entry in the Light Hearts series and it is, as befits the name, a very light read. Told in first person, it’s chock full of Trevor’s personality. Unfortunately, to me Trevor’s a self-centered twat. He’s a bit snobbish during his interview, but gets the job because his roommate pulls some strings. On first arriving at the house where he is to do the job he’s being paid for, he snipes at and insults the person on the other side of the intercom before finding out who this person might be. The butler? A repairman? His boss? No matter, Trevor’s in a bad mood and he’s going to share with the world.
To be honest, Trevor doesn’t seem to care about anyone. When Chao makes it clear he’s not comfortable seeing Trevor wandering the house all but naked, and then actually naked, Trevor doesn’t care. When Chao catches Trevor talking about his dick size to Dirk, Trevor’s roommate, and is understandably upset, Trevor is defensive and dismissive. And then, in an act of passive aggressiveness, Trevor doesn’t call his roommate again, later asking permission to actually talk to his friend.
Trevor comes across entitled and arrogant, and for every comment about how scrawny he is, he’s sure to mention how many men he could have if he wanted. He’s not a bad person, he’s just not a very easy one for me to like, and I found myself very quickly tired of his self-indulgent commentary and constant opinions. He considers his roommate is a slut — and it’s a word that’s used over a dozen times to comment on Dirk. While it may be meant affectionately, it’s very clearly a judgement Trevor makes about the sort of person his friend is. Trevor, who also has one-night stands and hookups, isn’t a slut because he’s interested in having a relationship one day. Dirk, the slut, is not, and Trevor draws that line several times in the course of the book.
Chao, with the relationship between himself and his girlfriend in tatters, his relationship with his father all but destroyed, forced to throw away a business he believed in and fought for, has been locked up alone in a giant and empty house with nothing to do but think about all the things that went wrong, everything he did and didn’t do, everything that made him angry and sad. And then Trevor comes swanning into his life, full of life and noise and dramatics. Trevor who can’t seem to keep his clothes on, who keeps pushing Chao’s buttons, who blithely tramples over every barrier and awakens a knowledge in Chao he didn’t know he was missing.
Chao is by turns delighted and disgruntled by Trevor, but when he decides to take a step forward in their relationship, he falls hard. Trevor is his first gay relationship, the first man he’s been physically interested in. Even when watching gay porn, it didn’t do much for him, not the way Trevor’s smile or laugh does. Trevor brings out Chao’s jealousy, as well as his lust, and feels a little soon after the failure of his relationship with his girlfriend — to whom he had proposed — for him to be thinking of forever. But, like Trevor, he wants the stability and constancy of love in his life. And for all that Trevor’s 20 and Chao not much older, the two of them already see forever in their future.
There is a mountain of telling rather than showing in this book. It feels like there are few scenes where the characters interactions weren’t patiently explained to me, or where plot points weren’t simply told to me. It’s as if I’m not being trusted to understand what is happening and not being shown by the story itself. Instead, the characters themselves explain their motives, just as the book explains what’s going on, what it means, and what the characters feel.
The writing, throughout all of this, is very strong. The pacing is a bit languid, with time taken to describe all the important rooms of the house or all the ingredients going into supper, but it’s an easy read, if a bit of an uninteresting one. The ending, though, completely fell apart for me. I’m not a fan of the supporting characters coming together to fix the main couple rather than allowing Trevor and Chao to be given the time to find their way back to one another on their own. The ending felt like it was told to the characters by others, rather than them having to live through it themselves.
Voice heavy characters can be a strength or a weakness in a book, and for me, this character in this book was a decided turn-off. Perhaps it’s simply that the humor of the book didn’t work for me, as I found Trevor’s attitude to be more smug and entitled than bratty or cocky, and with the way in which everything was told and explained, every mannerism of Trevor’s came across more as an affectation. While the character is 20, he felt like a young 20, to me, and added a childish smirking to the feel of the narrative. Again, these are all very personal responses to the character. Other readers may find themselves enjoying the comedy or really growing attached to Trevor. This is another book I suggest you try a sample of if you’re interested in reading just to see how well you and Trevor get along, because he is the focus of and primary draw for the story.