Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Change of Tune by JM Cartwright

A Change of TuneA Change of Tune by JM Cartwright

Johnny Rayne has had enough - enough of being at the top of the rock music industry for the last decade, enough of constant touring and recording. He wants something more -- just something very different. Moving to a farm in West Virginia, Johnny meets Sheriff Virgil Grissom on his first morning in the mountains.

The sheriff challenges Johnny in a multitude of ways - with overt machismo, disdain for Johnny's musician past, and all-around know-it-all-ness. The two men clash continually, and Johnny resists succumbing to the sheriff's brash charm until Grissom forces him to admit some very basic truths. One: Johnny's definitely attracted to men. Two: Johnny's definitely attracted to Grissom. And three: Johnny's definitely going to enjoy every moment of it.

The logic-fail at the very beginning of the book should have warned me. Johnny Rayne, front man for the band, and the brains of the business operations, doesn't understand why his one-sided decision to leave doesn't go over so well. He's shocked the rest of the band resents having their artistic and financial futures thrown into doubt so he can go find himself.

So buying a house he's never seen in a place he's never been makes relative sense. Especially when he's coming to terms with his sexuality, going to an area not known for tolerance and understanding of such things is going to work out fine, because this chunk of West Virginia is really a suburb of San Francisco. The cover says so, those are "painted ladies" in the background.

Everyone thinks gay couples are cute, an openly gay sheriff has no problem with his staff or anyone else, although he allows there might be one or two grouches up in the hills. And he takes Johnny from m/m virgin to fisting in less than a month.

The part of the story that isn't directly sexual exists only in flashes through the first two hundred pages, and after that it's still thin. Johnny came to the country with adopting a family on the mind, so the sheriff thoughtfully provides him with not one but two kids. Grissom treats getting kids with roughly the same importance as getting kittens, and it's not much harder, either, when the judge thinks two months of sex equals stable relationship.

Issues are introduced and then dropped, the author makes a big deal about the Sheriff's name, Virgil Grissom, being the same as the astronaut's, but nothing further ever comes of that. An escaped prisoner plot fizzles out before page eighty, and the prisoner never does anything desperate, he gets talked about a couple times. Johnny's a good enough musician to coach a local into Julliard, but that gets a handful of paragraphs and shows mostly that he's a good guy.

The language is probably the strongest point, it's fluid enough to lull you along into not noticing what's really going on for pages and pages. Until you run into yet another use of the Lord's name that isn't capitalized. I got so mad at this that I stopped reading and started counting, and got to 40 before I gave up, and there was still a half a book. "Blondie" is apparently important enough to capitalize, but 'god' is not. The nickname vs name issue in another story by this author is here too, it's a plot point, but annoying.

In short, there's no conflict. It's all happy happy, get comfy with gay sex, laugh at grown men learning to change diapers. If you want an extremely undemanding read with lots of sex, you'll like this, it's erotica, with babies and doggies and kitties and old ladies on the side. If you're expecting an honest-to-God story, you'll be as disappointed as me.

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