Whilst a lot of M/M fiction novels have a tendency to look like they’ve been shit out the back of a Merchant Ivory distribution truck (all oil painted torso’s and long spidery letters) this cute little faux-instruction manual is quite the opposite. And inside the book is no different. The word I would use to describe it is ‘quirky’.
The story starts as if written for someone who can’t tell Han Solo from Hercules, with small, italic paragraphs, taken from a mock self-help book for the scene kid trying to bag himself some nerd-meat. And it’s effective. The great comparisons found between dating a geek and nurturing your desktop computer are awesome and hilarious and really punctuate the story nicely, not allowing it to get too dark. And for once in a book about a homosexual relationship, the subject of homophobia is not addressed, taking on the theme of different social groups being divided and thus that forms the wedge between the two main characters, Ash and Fee.
Ash is a tattoo apprentice, all round playboy, with a lax attitude to life, who doesn’t take a thing seriously. Only a chance encounter, meeting the mysterious computer geek Fee, changes Ash’s whole outlook on his life. On first reading this book, I cringed at how awfully awkward and borderline stalkerish Ash was. But on second perusal did I realise that Vaughn and Xanakas actually had their fingers right on the pulse. I know I’ve done some pretty whacky shit in my life to get a guy to notice me, probably worse than decking myself out in geek apparel and attending a sci-fi book club. The characters are honest and true, and you come to feel for them, particularly the protagonist Ash, whose first person account really gets underneath the hardship in trying to date in today’s society.
Despite being written by two female authors, it’s amazing how tuned in these guys are to the typical mating dance in the gay community today, and I really, really enjoyed watching both characters as they evolved towards one another to make their courtship work. Further still, as a geek myself, the references to all things nerd, from Star Wars to Steampunk, made this book a highly-relatable joy to read. Atop all of this, the book wasn’t overly sexualised, giving it a nice build up of sexual tension that drove me nuts but made me appreciate it all the more.
This in mind, Vaughn and Xanakas have added themselves to the list of M/M fiction authors I would read with pleasure.
This book, published in 2012, is available to buy from its publisher, Less Than Three Press, and the link is available below. In my mind, it’s worth the read, so seek it out and give it a go!
Less Than Three Press: http://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=348