Author: Ben Monopoli
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Photo – eyedear; design – Ben Monopoli
Rating: 4.25 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 01/16/2013
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction
Boots McHenry and his boyfriend Ryan are young superstars in the North American Paintball League, a high-stakes sport where losers face exile — five full years of it, on an island so secret no one can be sure it even exists. After Ryan has a tragic collision with an opposing team’s paintball, the rules of the game force the boyfriends apart.
Boots is shattered without Ryan, so when his best friend Clemente Santiago suggests a daring, high-seas mission to find the island and reunite the pair, Boots jumps at the chance. They assemble a crack team to join them, including fashion model and mixed-martial-arts champ Colby Kroft, hunky-but-shy sea-captain Marcus Tumble, and Piper Pernfors, the ex who’s aching to make Boots forget Ryan ever existed.
“Homo Action Love Story!” is a lighthearted, sexy adventure from the author of “The Cranberry Hush” and “The Painting of Porcupine City”. It’s a perfect storm of beautiful fishermen, murderous pirates, blossoming romances, and secrets that call almost everyone’s motives into question. Land, ho! This page-turner is sure to float your boat.
Opening paragraph and I’m already grinning, digging this writing, hoping it’s a good sign for the entire book.
”I don’t know why I still get so nervous,” he whispers, pretty brown eyes hidden behind the shades.
“It’s cute,” I assure him, and give his hangnail-finger a squeeze. Like a boulder on his knuckle is last year’s Splatter Cup ring. “You’re a killing machine in the stadium but behind the cameras you’re just a bashful boy.”
“Shut up, poo face.”
I rub the back of his neck and he touches the bridge of his nose to keep his shades in place.
Small gestures, intimate moments, and humor. All good things to use in telling a story and introducing characters, giving me as the reader some things on which to hang my hat, take a seat, and start the ride.
I thought I knew where this ride would take me, what the main event would be, but I was wrong. Unexpected twists and unforeseen paths are often the name of the game in this book. This story starts off almost subdued, character centric, and introspective thanks to our narrator, Boots. Well, as introspective as 20 and early 30-yr olds can be while surrounded by the world of professional paintball in what feels like a not too distant future. I think this fact is what allowed me to accept some of the actions some of these characters take, which felt either a little off kilter or out of step sometimes.
I very much like the group dynamics on display here, between friends, teammates, current boyfriends, exes, and more, and how people can surprise you. And disappoint you. And push your buttons. And have your back, even when it’s up against the emotional wall. The exploration of these characters as they experience new things, new emotional responses, how their own behaviors can surprise them. Complex characterization, yo. And diversity, at that.
The writing itself sails smoothly along for the most part. There are some instances of awkward sentence structure, my brain stumbling through the clunky passages. It’s in these places where it feels like I’m reading what the author was thinking as opposed to writing it from the character’s point of view. Even so, the heart and openness demonstrated throughout this story, especially by Boots, kept me moving past the imperfections in the prose. They also helped shape my understanding of this author’s voice. Imperfections don’t always translate to failure. Often they provide nuance and subtle flavor, insight into the characters by revealing the thoughts and feelings the author is exploring.
After a minute I say, “Is it weird that I like doing this?”
“What, washing dishes?”
“It’s soothing or something.”
“You just like it because I chill with you while you’re doing it,” he says, and he’s right – I like everything about him sitting there, from the hollow thumping sound his heels make against the cupboard door, to the smell of his sunblock, to the tone of his voice in this small, pink-walled space.
This scene makes me feel… content. I’m a contented reader in this moment, enjoying the direction of the story, no longer trying to forecast what’s coming next. I’ve been continuously taken by surprise so I’ve let go and am just rolling with it. I think both Boots and Santiago are possibly maybe trying to get to that state of mind, too. Again with the intimate, humorous, sweet moment informing me about these characters, keeping the story moving forward while allowing the characters to experience a natural progression of their own.
Just like the rest of this story, the ending was unexpected, in a good way. It did feel a little rushed, almost like the author couldn’t wait to get there, either. It had everything: the imaginative detail, the filling of every nook and delicious cranny with a fabulous sense of place, and the capping off a solidly laid back yet plump story with an adrenalized finale. Man, I just have to say more about this author and their ability to describe the physical surroundings and imbue them with every sense, taking their time, giving me much detail upon which to gnaw without wandering into obvs-landia and overdoing it. I could feel the pains of awkwardness and frustration, the physical and emotional tolls of injury, and the depth of the motivations of these characters while still holding some things back – there’s more than meets the eye here. Yes, physical description accomplished all of that.
I loved spending time with these characters and I didn’t want this story to end… even though I stayed up way too late in order to finish reading it.
Ben Monopoli is a new-to-me author and I want more. Luckily, I’ve got just that waiting for me on my kindle. 🙂
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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