“His moans sounded like sobs from a long-forgotten, sad story.”
This was my third 1 Night Stand novella in a month and I have to admit I’m quickly turning into a fan of this series. I love the premise of these stories; two people desperately looking for that elusive love connection turn to Madame Eve to set them up with a perfect partner for one night. If all goes to plan that one night will be the basis for a happily ever after, but not without some obstacles to overcome first. I mean, what’s not to like?
In this book American contract negotiator Thomas Barkley finds himself stranded in Mumbai having just been made redundant. Thomas has lost the man he loved under tragic circumstances 18 months earlier and hasn’t been able to be intimate with anyone else since. He’s almost forgotten the request he sent to Madame Eve months ago when he’s notified that his one night stand will take place in his hotel that night.
Arjun Mukesh has been a rent boy all his life. Since it is the caste he was born into he never expected to be anything else and can’t imagine a life that wouldn’t involve giving himself to men for money or the violence his pimp, Ranjeet inflicts upon him. All he’s asked Madame Eve for is one night of real pleasure since love is a dream he can’t afford to indulge himself in.
When Thomas reaches the room where Arjun is waiting for him he walks into a violent scene. He manages to scare Ranjeet off, but is heartbroken to discover that this is what Arjun’s life is and always will be. The night the two men share is a revelation for both. While Thomas discovers that he can develop feelings for somebody other than the lover he lost, Arjun experience real pleasure and intimacy for the very first time. Arjun has never been with a man who is as anxious to make sure Arjun gets his pleasure as he is for his own.
More violence follows the two men while they explore each other’s bodies as well as life-stories. When Arjun disappears the following morning Thomas knows that he has to find the man he’s begun to fall for as well as a way of bringing him back to America with him.
This was a charming little story even if there seemed to be a bit too much happening for such a short tale. Personally I would have liked to see a bit more of the two men discovering each other and a little bit less of the violence. Having said that, everything we were shown about the two men was well written and clearly painted. I especially appreciated Arjun’s story and his inability to believe that somebody might want to give him pleasure for no other reason than to make him happy, and his reluctance to believe that it might be something he could hang on to.
Some of the writing in this story – like the sentence I quoted at the top of this review – was so beautiful it took my breath away. I also liked that the book came with an epilogue, giving us a small glimpse of the future and the happy ending Madame Eve had once again managed to create for two of her clients.
Now that I’ve found these ‘1 Night Stand’ stories I find myself rather addicted to them, so it’s just as well there seem to be a lot of them and new ones are being published quite regularly. Sometimes a hot quick read is exactly what this reader needs; at moments like that I could do a lot worse than turn to this series.