The Facility Trip
by Ansley Vaughan, contemporary (2006)
Freya's Bower, $4.75, ISBN 1-934069-26-4


“Did you think,” he asked, his voice thick with lust, “when we first met the other day, that within thirty-six hours I would be licking your bottom?”

Major Changa! What happened to the don't-ask, don't-tell policy?

The Facility Trip is set in a fictitious African country Mandisa, where a British journalist Guy Maltravers attempts to cover the civil war taking place there only to find himself very attracted to Major Tabansi Changa. The closeted Guy, married and with children, of all things, is very tempted by the desire he has for another man. What is he to do in this instance?

This is the story of two men who don't believe that they are straight or gay. Rather, they are "complicated". I understand completely, heh. This story is not for you if you like your main characters faithful to their spouses because both men here are cheating on their wives and Guy isn't the only person, male or female, that Tabansi has slept with despite him being married. I personally have no issues with these two men in this particular story. In fact, I find what they are doing most erotic, especially when Ms Vaughan's love scenes do away with cute euphemisms and instead contain frank terms and words without coming off as too clinical. There is also the added sizzle from the fact that what they are doing is considered taboo, of course.

I like The Facility Trip but I don't love it. I have the same problem with this one as I have with many ebooks - often the storyline and the characters are fantastic, original, rarely encountered, or all three but the story is too short, ending just when the going is getting real good. It's the same thing here. If Guy is a female character, The Facility Trip could easily be the foundation of the script for one of those award-winning movies starring Morgan Freeman and some white actress of the moment. Or a movie featuring Michael Caine and some actress of minority descent if the nationalities of the characters are reversed as well. The atmosphere and the setting are very well-drawn and the sense of place is fantastic. Therefore, it is unfortunate that the story ends the way it does without Ms Vaughan getting to mine the most out of her setting. We have a civil war taking place, so how about some dramatic star-crossed love? This is one story that is screaming to be made into a much longer and substantial story.

As itself, The Facility Trip is one of the more interesting gay romances I've come across. Still, I feel like I've nibbled on a few crumbs of delicious cake rather than having had a most satisfying meal when I'm done with it. I want more. This isn't enough for me.

Rating: 78


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