ePistols at Dawn by Z.A. Maxfield

ePistols at Dawn by ZA Maxfield
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (210 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 Cherries
Review by Cactus

Choose your weapons.

Jae-sun Fields is pissed. Someone has taken the seminal coming-out, coming-of-age novel Doorways and satirized it. He’s determined to use his Internet skills and his job as a tabloid reporter to out the author as the fraud and no-talent hack he’s sure she is.

Kelly Kendall likes his anonymity and, except for his houseboy, factotum and all-around slut, Will, he craves solitude. There’s also that crippling case of OCD that makes it virtually impossible for him to leave the house. He’s hidden his authorship of Doorways behind layers of secrets and several years’ worth of lies—until he loses a bet.

Satirizing his own work, as far as he can see, is his own damned prerogative. Except now he has an online stalker, one who always seems several steps ahead of him in their online duel for information.

A chance meeting reveals more than hidden identities—it exposes a mutual magnetic attraction that can’t be denied. And pushes the stakes that much higher, into a zone that could get way too personal…

Warning: This book contains large Korean men; Will, the houseboy, factotum, and all-around slut; hot sexy manlove including oral sex, and serious ass play. (Jae’s note to self: OCD + socks + mouth = BAD.)

Whoever thought turning an iconic book into good smut certainly didn’t pass the idea by reporter Jae Fields and he’s pissed about it. Jae feels very strongly about the original gay coming of age tale and is determined to expose the comic writer as nothing but a heterosexual, female fraud treading on the honest emotions of gay men and their hot sex. What turns into a harmless crusade ends up becoming much more as Jae discovers the writer is not only a gay male like himself, but none other than the author of the original book. The web of lies increases with both men to create a touchy atmosphere as feelings deepen and Jae and Kelly must evaluate what is most important to them.

This is a highly angst-filled story that uses the “big misunderstanding” theme not once but twice. However, the writing is subtle and deft enough to pull off both problems with only a slight annoyance at the inclusion of the second. The relationship and characterization of the men are strong enough to overcome this problem for most readers. The story at the heart is about two men who have a lot of fears and problems but overcome their respective mistakes and let go of the past to take a chance on their future, together. The emotional and sexual connection of the main characters, Jae and Kelly, is solid and beautifully drawn as the two struggle with their problems. Both men have problems and neither is perfect, yet the strong connection is enough for them to take a chance and risk for a potential happy ending.

Kelly is the more dynamic of the two characters with his myriad of emotional and physical problems from an inability to have sex with socks to a potentially debilitating OCD condition. Despite these problems, Kelly has a deeply vulnerable heart, thrust for life and experience, and a kindness that endears him to the reader instantly. His shy needy personality is offset by a strength of will in overcoming his problems and fears when needed. Especially moving and wonderful is his connection and relationship to his houseboy and all around slut Will. Their dialogue and scenes together were the highlight of the book with humor, intelligence, and wit. They almost overshadowed Jae and Kelly’s relationship but Kelly was always clear on his passion and desire for Jae above all else. Jae’s compassion and understanding is essential in helping Kelly and creating a life with the complicated man and his dishonest mistakes stem from immaturity and poor decisions.

I had some trouble with Jae’s decisions and his inconsistent character with regards to honesty (or lack thereof), so I didn’t connect or sympathize with Jae as much as I did Kelly. Jae’s mistakes and hurtful actions towards Kelly could have been stopped but Jae refused to do so mostly for selfish reasons. Due to the lengthy time the story spends on Jae, his actions, and motivations, this led to an overall feeling that the book is good but not great. If the story had focused on Kelly and their relationship more without the trappings of Jae’s job, the internal conflict is enough to hold interest but even so this is a good story. Most readers will enjoy the struggle and rocky path on the road to true love, even with the few missteps of writing and characters alike. I was glad I read it and suspect you will be too.

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