Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Can't Be His by Shawn Lane

Can't Be His by Shawn Lane
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Genre: GLBT
Length: 34 pages

Exterminator Lonnie "Roach" Raines and ice skater Alexi Summerville have been friends and roommates for years, but they've never taken their relationship to the next level. When Alexi's coach wants him to train for the World Championship in another state, however, Roach is forced to examine his feelings before he loses Alexi, possibly for good.


Friends to lovers describes Roach and Alexi's relationship; they've known and liked one another for years. Never being single at the same time, nothing has ever happened between them, and it begins to look like nothing ever will. Shawn Lane jolts these two out of their complacent little rut in Can't Be His.

Roach and Alexi are an unlikely pair: a top level figure skater who shares an apartment with an exterminator. They get along really well, both being serially monogamous, more or less, and discovering a shared kink. They've just never quite managed to be single at the same time and get together. Roach is protective of Alexi, and the affection between them is blindingly obvious to everyone around them.

Even a casual date can see the score before Roach does. Alexi's coach understands what's going on and figures it's bad for his skater's career. One advises to go for it, the other thinks there should be several states separating them. Since Roach celebrates Alexi's newly single status by making him listen to drunken screwing in the next room, I was in the "several states over" camp before Chapter 3. Roach may be protective of Alexi but he certainly isn't thoughtful.

There was actually very little story for the page count, about 6200 words divided into three chapters over 34 pages, some taken up by a beginning excerpt and various credits at beginning and end. Most of the really interesting action happened off-screen. The unfortunately named Roach, which I could see as a nickname for a man with cans of poison but it provided endless small icky jolts when applied to a leading man in a romance, tells about his encounter with the wasps afterward when getting first aid, but we don't see him in action. Alexi's skating is over and barely described after we find him wiping away the sweat. There's dialog and then sex.

The story missed the potential in the contrasts and similarities between the willowy but strong artist/athlete and the tatted, gruff working man. I liked the premise and their discovery of a shared kink, but the execution of Can't Be His didn't provide enough for this reader to fall in love with. 2.5 Marbles

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