Title: Calling the Show
Author: J.A. Rock
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover Artist: April Martinez
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Senior stage manager Jesse Ferelit and sophomore light board operator Simeck Whedon meet while crewing a college theater production. Jesse hates everything about Sim — his lack of theater experience, his obsession with LGBTQ politics, his infatuation with, of all things, hula hoops. Well, he doesn’t hate everything. He doesn’t mind Sim’s eyes, or hair, or his surprising ability to be cool in a crisis. But Jesse is graduating in just a few months, and if there’s one thing he does not have time for, it’s a relationship.
Sim knows exactly what he likes: civil rights, the circus, and sex. And he knows what he likes about Jesse. In the control booth, Jesse is exactly Sim’s type — a natural leader, collected and confident. But outside the booth, he seems reclusive, acerbic and uptight — hardly Sim’s type at all. Is a relationship with Jesse a real possibility, just a fantasy, or a hopelessly lost cause?
When Sim offers to teach Jesse how to hula hoop as a way to relax and loosen up, the lessons ease the two men out of their individual circles and into an unexpected shared world of sex, kink, friendship, and eventually love.
”I didn’t have to be anyone I wasn’t.”
I’m going to do my best to articulate my feelings about this story, when all I really want to do is skip around in a meadow still drenched in sunshine just before dusk, tossing copies of this book around like the sweet, surprising and strong daisies they are.
Oh, Jesse, you made me snort for the first time on something like page three. The humor in this story is grounded in the characters. Ms Rock knows these characters. This equates to fantastic dialogue that is specific to Jesse and his completely unintentional (at least in his mind) interest in Simeck, aka Sim. Each of these two has their own insecurities and challenges that make it a difficult prospect of possibly finding someone with whom you feel safe enough to share your deepest secrets. Among these is the exploration of a lighter side of D/s, defined by them, what they like and want, not what anyone else decides it should be.
Amidst the humor and easy, quick pace of this read is rather deep emotion. As this story went on, there were a couple of times I had a lump in my throat. Jesse is a character with a rather unique voice and perspective. I don’t think I’ve encountered him before. Sim is saddled with some family strife but he’s a strong one and most of his choices are usually in the right… usually.
This is a well-painted world: I can picture the inside of the theater, the lighting booth, backstage (backstage!) and various other spots on campus.
I can picture these two men. They are each described by the other so vividly. Most of the time that happens as they’re doing things with or to each other.
Friendships, as exhibited through good supporting characters, add depth and give us more perspectives from which to witness Jesse and Sim stumbling, succeeding, worrying and demanding their way through all of this. Jesse’s friend Audra, “enemy” dancer Shelly and Jesse’s mom are fantastic female characters.
Equation: humor + emotion + physical description + sexy times = something I want to read. This is the kind of math I like.
Is this setting a bit idyllic? Yep, but there is a fellow student who is a jerk, which is putting it mildly, who causes some damage to more than one person. However, he’s also sort left dangling, no real consequences for his actions and words, nothing is really resolved before the end of the book.
A few points are repeated but not in a way that made me wrinkle my nose and think, “didn’t we just hear that?”
One word: Craybill.
I could say another word, but I don’t want to ruin it! It was a first for me. 😉
I loved this book. I love Jesse and Sim. I love the way this book made me feel. I will be reading this one again. It will now be a go-to, a comfort read, one of my favorite reads for this year. I really don’t think you’d be disappointed at all if you decided to give this one a whirl.
When you’re looking for a read to lift your spirits, to simply make you happy, this may be the ticket. I know it was for me and what a gift that was.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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