We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M contemporary
Just finished listening to Michael Stellman's audio-book reading of Eli Easton's The Mating of Michael. His seems to be the perfect voice to narrate a story about these two young men.
I've been curious about this book since I first heard raves about it in a couple of of my GoodReads discussion groups. When the audio-book version became available for review I jumped at it. I didn't know much about the plot but I had heard that the title was a bit misleading. This is NOT some bad M/M shifter story. Instead it's the story of a Michael, a young man who's compassion and empathy are his defining features. He mostly works as a home health nurse but also does some work as a sex surrogate when he can get it. It's a work that he's uniquely qualified for and from the moment we meet him visiting his young burn patient, we begin to see sex surrogacy in terms of compassion and therapy instead of as some lascivious activity.
When Michael meets James Galloway, the real world man behind J.C. Guise, Michael's favorite sci-fi author at a book signing and discovers that the young man is confined to a wheel chair, Michael's empathy goes into overdrive and he's immediately smitten. While listening to Michael's struggles to overcome the trust issues that James has, I was continually impressed by the development of the secondary characters. Their development adds a depth to the story that make it rise above just a simple cookie cutter romance.
But then again "The course of true love never did run smooth." and soon we're so wrapped up in Michael's campaign to overcome James's reluctance to trust that when Michael elects to NOT disclose his "shameful secret" - his sex surrogacy work" it's perfectly understandable but it as with any truth concealed it sets up the grounds for future trouble. For me as an older reader, Michael's decision to conceal his "shameful secret" resonated in a story about a gay man in a time when many young gay men don't really appreciate the constrictions of a mental closet."
Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone who's looking for a good sweet M/M romance and Michael Stellman does a great job of rendering it as an audio-book. The narrator opts to just skillfully read the written material and doesn't try to "perform" it which eliminates my usual criticism about men trying to fake women's voices.
I do have two negative observations about the story but they are both relatively minor. First, "Where are the fathers in Ms. Easton's world? Neither main character had one." The book is written by a woman and both main characters are at least in touch with their feminine sides a bit. The story may have gained some additional depth if at least one typical heterosexual male attitude was present. Second, "Titles are NOT this authors forte. At first look "The Mating of Michael" sounded like bad shifter fiction and the story itself it included a science fiction work "Sentimental Cyanide" in which the title didn't seem to match its subject all that well either."