Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Complexity by Harper Miller (review)

Title: Complexity
Author: Harper Miller
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Taria Reed
Genre: contemporary, multicultural
Length: 34,600 (novella)
Formats Mobi, Epub, PDF

Fairy tale endings weren’t made for people like me. Happy for now usually ain’t in the cards, either.

The dents on my wall from where my headboard kept knockin’ against the same spot was the first clue that I needed to calm my ass down. At the rate I was racking up notches and plowing through hookups, I wasn’t ever gonna find nothing real. Guess I kinda jinxed myself. I created my circumstances. You can’t get what you want if you keep falling back into the same pattern of bad habits. But then things changed. I stumbled onto somethin’ I never in a million years expected to happen. You gotta understand, I’m never the guy who wins. It was supposed to be just sex, but that shifty, rhyming and scheming bastard, Cupid, pulled a fast one.

I may have changed some stuff to protect a couple of people. But before you go believing the tabloids, make sure you understand that you’re gettin’ the lowdown straight from the source.

I needed to get this off my chest and it’s only fair that you at least get my side of it all. At some point, I might regret telling you any of this, but for now, you need to know.

*Disclaimer* This is a novella. Not a short story, novelette, or novel. This tale features an M/M pairing. If gay erotica/erotic romance is not your cup of tea and you are offended by same-sex relationships or crass language, you should bypass this story. Content is intended for a mature audience, 18+.

Complexity is the fourth installment in The Kinky Connect Chronicles. The Kinky Connect Chronicles are short erotic stories/novelettes all wrapped up in neat little bows. These stories are standalones. No cliffhangers in the lot!

Read that blurb carefully, because the style you see there persists. The entire book maintains the aggressive stance and spelled out phonetic speech. We stay in Manny’s head in a first person present tense ride through one hot and steamy relationship.

Manny’s caginess in revealing his love interest has something to do with the glare of the Hollywood spotlight on the man who called him for a night of no-strings sex that turned into something more. However, it also has something to do with Manny’s focus—we don’t even get a name for Christopher until close to the halfway point. Christopher is an up and coming leading man, not yet secure enough in his star power to risk getting outed.

So some things you have to take on faith, like why Christopher would hook up with someone he met on a singles site that’s not so very more relationship oriented than Grindr when he’s so recognizable, or bring said hookup to a great place for causing a scene, but the chemistry is immediate and hot. The sex is gritty and primal, and the guys are great together in the sack.

Outside the sack, it’s harder, but they find a way to be together under everyone’s noses, and this works until it doesn’t any more. The story starts with this awful time and backs up to show us how they met and got involved.

Manny’s interesting: he has plans and dreams for his own business, and even if at thirty four he’d like to find someone for more than a few hours, he’s looking for it in places where a name seems too much to ask. His background is Puerto-Rican and Bronx-tough, and he’s not about to tell anyone he likes the guys as well as the ladies. His culture is very present (there’s a glossary in the back if you can’t work the words out from context). He’s also kind of blind to his own bullshit—he’s ready to take offense where none was offered and if he demands something difficult from Christopher, he sure hasn’t thought it through.

While I agree with Manny that what he has at stake should be as important as what Christopher has at stake, Manny’s putting his own needs way ahead. That Christopher doesn’t even get into the blurb is perfectly consistent with Manny’s priorities. I don’t actually like him much—he’s not exactly registering Christopher as a lover, more as a meeter of Manny’s needs and those needs better be met right now damn it.

We only see Christopher through Manny’s eyes. He wasn’t planning a relationship any more than Manny was, and is both surprised to find it happening and devastated to find it crumbling. He seems like a genuinely nice person caught in a publicity trap. The two of them take “not talking” to new heights.

The style hovered at the borderline between okay and annoying on the phonetic spellings of Manny’s narration, which was characterization but also wearing. I was happy for Manny in the end, although I’m very concerned for Christopher. I’m not sure what to make of the offer linked at the end: click to find out what happens next seems more like a “rest of the novel” than a sequel, and while the book ends on an emotional high, it certainly leaves the “what happens after that?” open, and if you don’t mind signing up you can find out.

The story is well written, emotional if only on one side, and ends on a high note. For those who have been yearning for stories featuring an MC of color, this may be what you’ve been looking for. This story’s hot and definitely spicy.  4 marbles

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