The Agency
by DJ Manly, contemporary (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-351-6


The Agency is, I understand, the fourth book in the Amusing Amanda series. It is probably not the best place for me to jump into the series because I suspect I am missing quite a number of pieces in the jigsaw puzzle, so to speak.

There is this rich woman, Amanda Martindale, who apparently makes it her expensive hobby to purchase gay or bisexual male escorts from this Agency to be her playthings. I believe she's lost one of her playthings to her gay brother in a previous book, causing her to feel bummed, but that doesn't stop her from pursuing further this hobby of hers. Amanda rarely participates in the antics of her playthings - she just gives orders and watches. Maybe she cops a feel here and there and more often she'll touch herself while watching, but that's about it. I don't know what to make of her. Why pay so much money just to see a live sex show? Won't it be cheaper to just watch a gay adult film or head over to Thailand? Maybe Amanda has caught the Liza Minelli bug or something.

Perhaps there is a more reasonable reason for Amanda's behavior, such as maybe she's on a mission to "save" male escorts from a life of sin by matchmaking them with each other, but all I know so far is from this book alone, so don't look at me if I get a few things wrong.

In this book, she picks two hunks from the Agency, the "dangerous" Hunter Reese and another fellow named Ramsay, to be her latest amusements. Hunter is the one with all that macho attitude and he has a history with Ramsay, much to Amanda's delight because she likes watching the drama that unfolds. She proposes to the two men to stay and amuse her for three months. What will the two men do now?

It is strange considering that this is the first book of the series I've read, but Hunter and Ramsay aren't that interesting compared to the secondary characters that first appeared in previous books. There are various secondary characters that show up here, most of them former rent boys of Amanda, to carry out some ongoing soap opera that has started in previous books. Even if I have not read their stories, I find myself more interested in the drama between some fellow named Scott and his boyfriend Ciel and some fellow named Chase who is shagging Amanda's brother Jordan. I find the premise of Amanda, a forty-something widow, getting off by seeing hot guys have sex a little too implausible for me, but I suppose every woman has her own way to get her kicks in life. However, the other guys seem to have an interesting storyline going on already, and despite my unfamiliarity with them, I find myself reeled in by the author into their stories. I find myself more interested in those characters than Amanda, Hunter, or Ramsay.

The Agency isn't a bad read at all despite the, er, unusual premise. This story has many graphic gay sex scenes involving up to three very happy men but I find myself more interested in the Queer As Folk-type soap opera aspect of the story. This book is more like a chapter in an ongoing saga than a standalone book. I would strongly suggest people new to this series to start from the first book instead of diving into the middle of the party like me.

To be honest, I'm still not sure what to make of this book but that's more of my fault than author DJ Manly's, since this is, after all, book four of an actual ongoing raunchy soap-opera series. I still believe that Amanda probably should find a better way to spend her money but I suspect that given time I'll be munching on popcorns and, like Amanda, watching from sidelines as these pretty muscle boys try to find a clue and a happily-ever-after with each other.

Rating: 71


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