I thought I knew what to expect when I started this book. I recently read Andy, Go-Go Boy, the second book in the ‘Working Boys’ series by JP Barnaby and thought I’d be getting more of the same in this novella.
Up to a point that was indeed the case. This too is a story about a man who makes his money in the sex industry and finds an unexpected connection when he least suspects it. But that is where the comparison ends.
While Andy’s story was mostly dark, Charlie’s is funny. Andy’s character was very hard to like until the story was well on the way. Charlie on the other hand had charmed me before I’d finished the first two pages of his book.
This story is told in the first person by Charlie and it doesn’t take long before the reader knows they are dealing with a funny, sweet, cocky, at times cynical and self-deprecating character.
“... I’ve been blessed with an amazing ass. Besides my brain it’s by far my best asset.”
Charlie works as a rentboy to earn his way through college. After all it makes him a lot more money in far less time and he enjoys sex.
When Charlie gets a booking for a weekend with a man named John he is fairly sure he knows what to expect. He’s sure John won’t be the man’s real name, but that’s okay, he’s not really called Charlie either.
John however turns out to be nothing like Charlie’s usual customers. For starters he is actually called John and doesn’t make a secret of who he is and his background. He wants Charlie to pretend to be his boyfriend for the weekend and Charlie agrees. It won’t be his first time and after all, he who pays decides.
It isn’t long before Charlie has to admit that his feelings about and for John are very different from the lack of feelings he usually has for clients. But when shit hits the fan and it looks like both Charlie and John may be outed in a way neither of their reputations will survive, the ball game changes completely.
I adored this story. Charlie’s transformation from cynical but funny to sensitive and vulnerable was beautiful and John has to be one of the sweetest characters I’ve come across in my books recently.
I guess this novella was pretty close to the perfect read for me, with just the right balance of humour, angst, love and sex. I only discovered JP Barnaby a week ago but it is safe to say that she’s found a fan for life in me. It won’t be long before I’ll be making my way through her back list.