I'm a writer. I write m/m erotica. Kind of dark stuff, even though in real life I like rainbows and puppies and kittens. Not all at once though. That would be overwhelming.
And this one goes straight onto my "Yeah but no but yeah conflicted" shelf.
It's a 3.5, but rounded up because I can't stop thinking about it.
The writing is really good. Really good.
The story is also really good.
But, and here's where it gets into that morally grey area: it's a book about a student and a teacher, and, whichever way you look at it, that's a violation of trust, and an abuse of power. Which is why it surprised the hell out of me that I really liked the teacher, Andrew. I really felt for him. It's not like he was grooming Robert or anything, so is he still a predator? Well, yeah. Because the law is there for a reason. And that reason is to protect the students who, even if they are over the age of consent, are still vulnerable in the teacher/student dynamic.
It's a measure of my liking for Andrew that I kept saying to my Kindle, "No, don't! Don't text him! Don't invite him into your house! Don't love him! Just keep it in your pants until he's graduated!" But then where would the story be, right?
And Robert may not be your average high school senior either. His father is dying, his mother is constantly being berated by her husband's relatives, and Robert just wants his dad to hurry up and die so that he can get his life back. It sounds cold the way I've put it there, but it's not, I promise. And wow, those parts of the book...just fantastic. Robert and his mother are fatigued; looking after Robert's father is full time, it's not pretty, and they are copping nothing but a guilt trip from the rest of the family for not constantly weeping at his bedside. If you've ever had to watch someone die slowly and horribly...well, this book nailed that for me.
And still... Robert is a student, and Andrew is a teacher. And they might be exactly what they each need, but, until Robert graduates, it's wrong. Andrew knows it's wrong. Robert knows it's wrong. And every time that Andrew reminds Robert to delete his texts, that's an acknowledgement of guilt. Andrew might not groom Robert, but the moment they start something, he makes sure their tracks are covered.
Well, almost...because again, where would the story be, right?
Also, if J.H. Trumble isn't a teacher, she certainly knows a few. The part where Robert asks Andrew if teachers really gossip about students had me in stitches. Um...yeah. When teachers start to gossip, open a bottle of wine and let it happen. It'll be hilarious.
I really liked this book. It was very well written. It also made me extremely uncomfortable.
Because Andrew knows he's crossed the line. And, the moment you find yourself hoping he doesn't get caught, then you've crossed that line with him.
Yeah but no but yeah conflicted.