Review: Rentboy

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Title: Rentboy

Author: Fyn Alexander

Publisher: Loose ID

Genre: MM Romance, Suspense

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed this tale about a scrappy London college student grappling with an abusive father, alcoholic mother, and autistic siblings. There was a good mixture in the plot of mystery, danger, suspense, and romance. I liked both the main characters, as well as the other key players. I also particularly liked that it was easy to tell this was written by a native of the UK in general and possibly of London in particular. The language felt authentic and quirky. The sex was okay–I’m not really into exhibitionism, so I sort of skimmed those parts.

I did have issues with the book, however. The writing is really uneven–there’s way too much telling in parts, and sometimes the writing is just plain clunky. I think it could have been better edited. There are parts that are just plain unrealistic as well. I took it as a spy movie kind of fantasy, and let that part go. I get that Edward is socially naïve, a nerd, etc. But I found his lack of believing in Fox’s explanations not fitting with the Edward who is first introduced in the book. Things were just a little too convenient at times.

I’m going to assume that the writer is still in a fairly early stage of development. If I’m wrong, then Fyn needs to take a closer look at the work, and try to even things out a bit. I think a lot of explanation could have been cut from the book without losing anything, and it would have been better.

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Genre, Genre, who’s got the Genre?

Under another name I’ve already written two books. I’m at the point now where I’ve got a system when starting a new book and a new series. I have my little notebook where I can write all the notes about characters, the world, plot lines, and any research I might need.

So the next book I’m about to write is going to incorporate several things I find interesting. First, the protagonists are gay. Second, there will be a developing romance between them. Third, there are paranormal elements. Fourth, there is a mystery to solve, and elements of suspense and thriller. And last, I plan to have explicit sex featured in the books, including elements of BDSM, so that makes it erotic fiction as well.

This leaves me pondering what to call the genre of this thing. The simplest might be gay erotica, but I plan to feature the mystery plot just as prominently as the sex, if not more so. Gay mystery series? I know there’s a mystery to be solved in the first book, and I have a larger arcing mystery/problem for future books, but I can’t say for certain that this will be a true mystery series. It might fit better into suspense.

Normally I just write and worry about genre later, but since the mystery genre is so specific, I find myself having to make decisions even before I start writing. If mystery is my focus, then it’s a whodunnit, and that’s my outlined plot. If it’s suspense, however, then it’s about the danger and risk to the protagonists, and the mystery is secondary.

The worst thing is there doesn’t seem to be a lot of this out there, so it’s not like I can look to other examples. So am I crazy?  I could tone down the sex except I have it as an integral part of both the characters and the paranormal aspects. (I’m taking “power exchange” to the next level, let’s just say.)

For now, the best I can do is just get my thoughts down and let my instincts guide me.