Taste of Ink by Francis Gideon

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Taste of Ink by Francis Gideon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (200 pages)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Lilac

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Trevor Dunn has never gone to the Calgary Stampede, in spite of living in the city all his life. He would much rather listen to music and draw comics in his basement than hang out with a bunch of cowboys. When his sister drags him to the Stampede’s opening parade anyway, Trevor is drawn to a cowboy sporting a green hat.

Charlie opens Trevor’s mind to the world of country music and country boys. But then an old flame appears in the middle of the festival and Trevor is torn. He adores Charlie, but Mathieu—a punk singer turned acoustic crooner—was Trevor’s first love, and Trevor lost him by being too afraid to chase the dreams they shared.

When the Stampede ends, Charlie will go back to Toronto, Mathieu will go back on tour, and Trevor will go back to his basement. Realizing that’s not what he wants, Trevor enters a mechanical bull-riding contest in hopes of winning the heart of his true love—or maybe both of them. This time, fear won’t stop him from going after what he wants.

A comic book artist is caught between a man from his past and a man in his present. Will there be a future full of love in store for him?

Let’s get the small negative out of the way first. When Trevor and Charlie meet, they smoke some shisha. It’s basically tobacco. Reading how they enjoyed it, well, it read a bit like an old-fashioned tobacco commercial. These days, when people know the dangers of tobacco, glorifying the act didn’t make a positive impact on me. Thankfully the scene is short.

I always hate to say this but… it’s clear this was written by a man. The writing style focuses more on active, physical scenes, like bull riding and straightforward sex, rather than emotional turmoil or constant wavering. In this case, that was done very well, and I didn’t feel deprived of knowledge of the inner workings of these people. And toward the end we get happy mushy stuff, so … I was content.

We’re given insight into the male mind, and into polyamory, how understanding that no one person can be everything to another, and how that way of thinking is fine. We only get Trevor’s third person point of view, and that seems to be a conscious choice by the author, showing us the men in Trevor’s life, making us see them through his eyes. There’s a certain kind of pressure in existing somewhere between childhood and adulthood, being able to live at home but needing to feel useful instead of just waste of space. That’s something most everyone can understand. It’s insights like this, the role Trevor portrayed, that gave the storytelling its edge, I think.

I have to say, this story manages to surprise in many ways. Just when you think you’re hitting the heights of greatness… bam! Something unexpected happens, and a new plot twist steers the story down a different path than anticipated.  I think the reason is because we have a talented author on our hands, someone who is able to breathe life into a situation where three men have complicated feelings for each other, even though society prefers labels and strict categories, no coloring outside the lines.

At times Trevor comes off as a bit of a tabula rasa, and the men in his life—Mathieu and Charlie—fill him up. I don’t mean in a sexual sense. Trevor is the invisible boy behind his glasses. He’s been like that his whole life, and is stuck. Meeting Mathieu gave him a new home in the punk rock scene. Then Trevor meets Charlie who shows him how to be a cowboy. Of sorts. Trevor has no direction in life, just dreams he’s left unfulfilled for lack of trying. When he takes on these other personas, he finds himself—actually chasing his dream of becoming a comic book artist.

The overall positive message of this story made my day. It was nice to see a different kind of relationship depicted in such a life-affirming way. Even if you aren’t a fan of threesomes, I recommend you give this one a try. The last couple of chapters pasted a perma-grin on my face. See if this does the same for you.

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