Saturday, October 22, 2011

Make You Sweat by Pia Veleno

Make You Sweat by Pia Veleno
Publisher: Loose-ID
Genre: LGBT Contemporary
Length: 163 pages

Ready for change, Tyler Pierce has the whole summer ahead of him when he flies to Sand Piper Beach to turn over a new leaf. Sun, swimming, exercise, he'll return home a new man, sexy and buff. Best of all, several states away from home and college, no one but his dad knows him, so he can muddle through the challenges of getting fit without friends laughing at him.

During his first visit to the fitness center, Tyler meets the sculpted and toned Cody Dawson, fitness instructor and sexy gay man. Not only does Cody help Tyler learn how to use the strength training equipment, but he crashes through Tyler's fantasies and lures him into bed.

Just a passing fling, Tyler decides. Cody, after all, could get any number of better looking men without even trying. Besides, the summer doesn't last forever and, too soon, Tyler will return to campus leaving Cody to the ex who wants him back. A summer fling can grow into something more, but it's up to Tyler to recognize if it's true love or just heated summer lust.


Tyler, with his senior year of college ahead of him, is on that cusp of near independence and tentative adulthood that makes his still-spindly frame a source of frustration. Make Me Sweat brings him farther into maturity, and Pia Veleno has captured his insecurities and small triumphs on the way.

Tyler is ready to bring his physique into line with his life; spending his summer working out throws him together with Cody, the best looking guy on the beach. Tyler has trouble believing that Cody's for real on finding him desirable for more than a night or two, and I did too. Cody's head over heels for Tyler based on nothing more substantial than his body type, and I thought Tyler's wariness was a good thing. We're in Tyler's head for most of the story, and his inner thoughts, outer actions, and huge personal growth make some great reading.

Cody is not so clearly drawn – he's yummy but a little fuzzy on relationships. He wants Tyler, but he's not firm enough on the ex-ness of an ex to convince either Tyler or the ex. The few times we have his POV, it doesn’t illuminate him very much. Still, props for recognizing that being a twink is one but not the best of Tyler's attractions.

The other secondary characters, Tyler's father and Cody's ex, provide some tension, but the father is mostly around to spout homophobic comments, and his display of jerk-itude is over the top, especially considering the complete dysfunction of his relationship with his ex-wife and son. Tyler's reaction to his father, though, is a true-feeling back and forth of wanting to stand up to him as an adult, cower down like a child, and avoid him as self-preservation. The father does have a redemption of sorts, and Tyler is man enough to accept it for what it is. The ending is cluttered with convenient revelations about the father and the ex, who would be a more credible threat had he been more charming.

It's Tyler, with his growth and evolution, who makes this story, and he deserves a great big smooshy hug for making such a huge step into maturity. He and Cody have more to explore, which offers hope for a sequel. 3.5 marbles

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