"We're Both Straight, Right?"
Zack and Larry have been best friends since middle school and are now college roommates. But when Larry hears that other guys they know are getting paid to have gay sex on camera, he convinces Zack that they could pick up some quick, easy cash by being in one of these films… together.
If Zack thinks making a gay porn film with his best friend is disturbing, he is absolutely horrified when Larry proposes they “rehearse” for the film so they won’t be nervous in front of the director. As the they fumble their way through a checklist of sexual positions and acts, Zack finds himself seeing Larry in an entirely new light—a very sexy new light, and possibly a romantic one, as well. But does Larry feel the same? Or is this all for easy money?
This was my first Jamie Fessenden story and I loved it. I'm kind of a sucker for a gay-for-you storyline (when it's well done) and this one is super cute and sort of a double gfy since initially both characters are supposedly straight. There's something very sexy about young guys experimenting and testing out their sexuality. Larry and Zach two college age guys who 'practice' sex together in preparation for doing some gay-for-pay porn--and find out that maybe their relationship as best friends could turn into something more. The sex scenes are fresh and 'real', the characters are funny, and the relationship is sweet. What more could you want?
"The Christmas Wager"
To discharge a debt to his friend, Andrew Nash, Lord Thomas Barrington returns to the family estate he fled six years earlier after refusing to marry the woman his father had chosen. To Thomas's dismay, Barrington Hall is no longer the joyful home he remembers from his childhood, and his young niece has no idea what Christmas is.
Determined to bring Christmas back to the gloomy estate, Thomas must confront his tyrannical father, salvage a brother lost in his own misery, and attempt to fight off his father’s machinations. As the holidays near, Thomas and Andrew begin to realize they are more than merely close friends... and those feelings are not only a threat to their social positions but, in Victorian England, to their lives as well
I have this strange dichotomy in romance. When I read het romance I adore regencies. But when I read m/m (which is the bulk of what I read) I prefer contemporaries. Of course, a romance set in regency England between and man and a woman is a much different beast than a romance in the same era with two men. Homosexuality was illegal and regarded as a terrible perversion. That's not necessarily the sort of angst I want to deal with while enjoying a sexy romantic romp.
But Jamie Fessenden makes it work in The Christmas Wager. It's a well-written story that has a lot of the things I love about regencies:
* It's Christmas in a great country house featuring boughs of evergreens, a Christmas dance, dozens of Christmas trees, and a Yule log. * The romance is between a Lord's second, estranged son and a wealthy-but-not-titled young friend. * It has lovely British characters -- jolly and loyal servants, the workaholic brother, the brother's dead wife and neglected child, the belligerent father who walks around with his shotgun and his hounds, the lady of the manor who is externally placid but secretly wise, etc. * One MC is resisting his long-time desire for the other MC; that MC is clueless. * Hunky male MC(s). * Bathtub scenes, adjoining rooms, sex. Say no more.
The author doesn't shy away from the realities of being gay in this era at all. But the romance still works out in the end and the angst, guilt, and shame levels are never so strong that they overpower the cozy pleasure of the read.
Stay tuned for a podcast interview with Jamie.