The Art of Touch
Author: Dominique Frost
Cover Artist: April Martinez
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher Buy Link: The Art of Touch
Length: 20,517 words/ 79 PDF pages
Hamilton is the director of the famous law firm, Hamilton &
Hamilton. He’s a brusque, no-nonsense type that doesn’t suffer fools
gladly. Thus, it is no surprise that he finds Kyle Washburn instantly
and aggravatingly annoying.
Kyle is Jared’s massage therapist and
is cheeky and irreverent. Jared doesn’t like cheekiness or irreverence.
Unfortunately, Kyle also turns out to be absolutely brilliant at his
job, which means that Jared can’t find an excuse not to return to the
massage parlor when Kyle’s massages are clearly having such a beneficial
effect. Jared is more relaxed and congenial than ever - well, as
congenial as he can be.
It is only when another one of Kyle’s
customers implies having had sex with Kyle that Jared realizes that he,
too, finds Kyle sexually desirable - and that the thought of anyone else
touching Kyle is unbearable. This revelation changes Jared’s
perspective and his behavior, and he finds himself more and more
attracted to Kyle with each therapy session. But does Kyle want him, in
return, or is all that flirtation just part of the art of touch?
to read the excerpt in this case was an extremely good thing, because I
might have bailed at the present tense within a paragraph or two. And
that would have been a shame, because this turned out to be a lot of
Jared specializes in being an uptight asshole, although he’s
got enough covert sparks of humanity to go with it that everyone around
him, from his sassy personal assistant to his wealthy uncle, looks out
for him. Not that he likes that or appreciates it, because he doesn’t,
and he’s loud about kicking and screaming at every sign of
thoughtfulness, which he manages to lap up. Under severe protest, of
Kyle turns out to be another one of those
persistent, pesky caretakers, and he’s just adorable. He gently
contradicts Jared at every turn, performing his particular brand of
magic, which turns Jared more nearly human. Unfortunately, that humanity
returns in stages, and some of the stages are kind of ugly. Kyle teases
gently or calls bullshit on him, which brings out more of that latent
The relationship between Kyle and Jared has to blossom
more as a friendship, giving Jared time to rejoin the human race. A lot
of details about the two men come out during this unfolding. It’s deftly
done and develops the characters beautifully. When they do finally come
together, Jared is a very different man than he began, and Kyle has
revealed a number of depths.
The story is periodically humorous,
although it doesn’t go for non-stop knee-slapping. Jared’s moments of
foot in mouth aren’t glossed over with humor but are treated with the
seriousness the offenses deserve. He’s not let off lightly, although he
does most of the tormenting himself.
I really enjoyed the pacing
of the story and the interplay between the men; their hidden details are
unrolled slowly and in such a way that you can see them falling in
love. There was one sex scene that seemed shoehorned in, and one element
of the ending was probably meant to illustrate hidden depths but came
so completely out of the blue that it was weird instead of illustrative,
but otherwise the story was very nicely done.
stories usually leave me cold, because the form is hard to manipulate
for character and development, with the action always stuck in the now.
This story is among the best examples of present tense work in any
genre I have read, and the development stacks up with the best. Warmly
recommended. 4.5 marbles