This is going to be a difficult review for me to write. I have absolutely no problems writing about the books I love; those reviews tend to write themselves. And the only issue I come across when I haven’t enjoyed a book is that I don’t want to sound to negative about it; after all, what doesn’t work for me, may well be exactly what another reader enjoys. Writing these reviews only becomes an issue when the book I’ve read left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied.
There is not a whole lot wrong with this novella. It was the easy to read story of two men who are attracted to each other from the moment they first meet and for various reasons fail to link up. And those reasons were legitimate and neither farfetched nor drawn out.
When Tomas and Darren first meet, Darren is in a relationship with someone else and Tomas, socially awkward at the best of times, leaves the party before having the chance of getting to know him. When the two men meet again it is because Darren has to become Tomas’ masseur while his regular masseuse is away. And although Tomas, the world-class swimmer and Darren are strongly attracted to each other, both of them are determined to keep their distance because of the professional relationship between them.
As soon as the need for restraint is removed though, the two men engage in a beautiful and very steamy encounter. An encounter that would lead anybody to think that more was sure to follow. Much to Darren’s shock and disappointment though, Tomas seems to withdraw after their one afternoon of passion. And it won’t be until Darren finds the courage to confront Tomas about the distance he appears to be keeping, that the two men discover how crossed their wires have been.
Like I said this is a nice story. The problem is that while there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with it, the story didn’t quite work for me either. Too much was left untold for my liking. It is not just the two characters who are left guessing at what exactly is going on between them. I found myself doing the same thing, and the story just didn’t give enough explanation to clarify things for me. Even taking into account that Tomas is not good at communicating his thoughts and feelings, I had a problem understanding why he wouldn’t have told Darren exactly what he was doing earlier on. And it would have been more in character for the socially more than adapt Darren to open his mouth earlier, even if he was infatuated with Tomas and afraid of what he might find out.
I never got a grip on these characters. I felt I knew as much about them when I finished the book as I did after reading the first chapter. I want a little bit more from the characters in the books I read; I want to be able to get to know them – when I’m lucky even attached to them – and that just didn’t happen in this novella.
As always, my reasons for being less than blown away by this book may well be the result of my personal quirks and tastes rather than any issue with the story. I can’t deny that this was a very easy to read novella. At no point did my ‘issues’ make me want to put the book down or walk away from it. The writing is smooth, if a bit unrevealing and the idea behind the story is great. Personally I can’t help feeling that this story could have done with being a bit longer or a bit more emotionally layered though.