Timing
by Mary Calmes, contemporary (2010)
Dreamspinner Press, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-61581-081-9


It is the cover of Mary Calmes's Timing that lured me into reading this story, and it isn't long soon after when I begin to wonder what I have stepped into. Something smelly, no doubt, because the first chapter of this story consists of nothing more than our hero Stefan Joss going back and forth with his boss about why he won't - absolutely not - take a side trip during his upcoming flight to Texas to attend his friend's wedding. Repetitive, boring, and flat, the first chapter has me thinking that this has better not be the usual pattern in the author's stories.

It isn't long before I'm immersed full blown in a vat of gay romance clichés. Stefan has a female friend Charlotte who naturally is his best friend for life. Stefan is the sensitive out guy who acts as if being gay and looking for love are the only reasons to exist in this story. Actually working at his job? Showing a personality that isn't a pastiche of sarcasm and cynicism? Honey, Stefan is gay. That's all that matters. He is inept at his job, people know it, but that's okay because gay guys who bitch about everything are so cute, like Hello Kitty handbags.

Charlotte's brother, Rand Holloway, is the straight-acting jock who initially starts out as a homophobe. And we all know that homophobes are all secretly closeted gay men who are gagging for it from guys like Stefan.

Add in some predictable wedding drama and stir in some bizarre rationalization for the main characters to have unprotected sex.

"Listen," he said as he settled himself back, straddling my thighs. "I haven't been with anyone since my ex-wife Jenny, okay? I have the paper at home that says I'm clean, but you gotta take my word for it and let me skip the condom."

I was overwhelmed. "Rand, you can't want to – "

"Oh fuck yeah, I want to."

I had to concentrate on breathing. "Listen, I'm clean, too, but you shouldn't just take my word for it. I've been with more guys than - "

"Not anymore," he said, leaning down to deliver a kiss that curled my toes. The man was so hot, and he really knew how to kiss me. "You're done with anybody else."

Who needs a condom when we have honesty, eh? Honey, I spent my weekends passed out on the men's room floor as random strangers shag me silly. But that's okay, I won't do it anymore, let's toss aside the condom! And yes, I totally believe you when you say you are clean! Condom-free sodomy for life!

It was beautiful, long, thick, and cut, the color a deep golden brown, and it was completely stiff and waiting for me.

Deep golden brown? Like Kentucky Fried Chicken? Hmm, I feeling a bit hungry now.

And I always leaped out of bed after sex and took a shower. Being covered in sweat and semen had never been something I cared for. But the man who I had always thought hated me, he wanted to sleep with me wrapped in his arms, and so I didn’t care that sticky fluid was drying between us, cementing us together. The smell of our lovemaking, of his skin, was a tangible reminder of what we had just done, the consummation of years of yearning. The revelations of the day were phenomenal.

Stefan spent his younger years at the receiving end of homophobic insults by Rand, but now that the hot guy has deigned to pork him without a condom and spray all over him until they stick together, the whole thing is phenomenal.

Still, I can't be down on this book too much for being an unintentional comedy, because the main characters are completely flat examples of uninspired stereotypes and the story is lifeless. The author has secondary characters calling Stefan cute, funny, sweet, and all, but I see only one rather silly guy who embraces cynicism to hide the fact that he's a third-rate take on the narcissist and self-absorbed gay character that has been presented way too much in popular media. Rand keeps saying that he has wanted Stefan for all this while, and I can only wonder, "Is it because he has a pee-pee?" Heaven knows, it's not like I see potent chemistry between them, only a by-the-number suck-finger-lube-shag routine in the bedroom.

So yes, thank goodness for the unintentional comedy. I won't be able to finish this book without it.

Rating: 50


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