“He liked cock fine, at least from an artistic standpoint.”
In a word: Read the thing. This is my first time reading a published M/M short story. It’s a bit different than reading a fanfiction oneshot (which I’m more used to) in the way that the characters are introduced, but it was alright. I liked this one, it was cute. It was a story about Blake and Felix and how they met and got together. Blake is back in town for his cousin’s wedding and 10-year high school reunion. His plans consist mostly of spending quality time with his cousin at the wedding (where he’s the best man), and then suffering through the reunion. He wasn’t expecting Felix. Because of the short length, the characters and their backgrounds aren’t all that fleshed out, and I felt that I’d rather see a better resolution to the reunion plot line, also more scenes at the porn studio Blake works at. Overall though, it was a cute story with some light angst and some funny moments and a sweet romance beginning.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Couple: Blake is an asexual porn director; Felix is a pansexual unemployed musician. They’re both in town for Blake’s cousin Travis’ wedding to Felix’s college friend Julie. Sparks don’t fly when they meet, mostly because that’s not how it works for Blake and somewhat because their first meeting was when Blake almost hit Felix with his car (as you do). Julie attempts to matchmake them at the wedding and they do hit it off. They have a rather long conversation about their sexualities and the difficulties they’ve faced because the people around them just don’t understand (it reads a bit like an exposition dump to teach the reader about asexuality and pansexuality), but then eventually they decide that they aren’t entirely sure if romance is on the table but they’d definitely like to see each other again. Felix actually becomes Blake’s getaway driver for the reunion the next day. Blake had actually mostly given up on possibly finding someone to share a romantic non-sexual relationship with him; Felix is the person who has him thinking that there might be a chance for him after all. The whole story is in Blake’s point of view, so we don’t know much about Felix or his thought processes, except that he’d be very willing to be with Blake even knowing that it means sex is off the table. Their interactions are sweet, there’s no sexual tension between them, but the affection still shines through. I ship it.
The Porn Studio: Blake works at a porn studio as a director of photography (he’s in charge of the cameras, essentially). Very little of the story actually takes place at the studio, but there are a few scenes. It’s all fairly interesting, I’ve never read anything where the main characters work in the porn industry. Though I imagine that this is a fairly sanitary portrayal of what working at a porn studio might be like (I don’t know much about the porn industry anyway so I might be wrong on that front). We get a quick look behind the scenes of pornos being made and how it takes more than just people fucking on camera to make a decent quality production. Everyone seems to all be friends and enjoying themselves at any rate. It’s also interesting to read about someone who doesn’t feel sexual attraction describe a sex scene to us (the readers). Blake doesn’t actually get off on the videos he shoots so I think he treats the whole thing like shooting a normal movie, only with way more explicit sex. I like the camaraderie and atmosphere in those scenes and that was something I’d wish there’d been more of.
The Reunion: Blake’s 10-year high school reunion made up most of the second half of the story (Travis’ wedding was the first). Since the beginning we are made aware that Blake would rather do anything else than attend a reunion full of people he’d rather not have to interact with ever again (for a few different reasons). He’s in town for Travis’ wedding, though, so he figures that he doesn’t have any excuses for not attending the reunion, which takes place the day after the wedding. Blake was bullied in high school, and he was also a jerk to some of his classmates, so he goes in prepared to make apologies and hopefully receive some. It starts off well enough, and then floats along for a while, but it begins to fall apart for him after he’s been there for less than an hour (if that). Blake is pretty ‘meh’ about most of the people there, and then he learns that a former classmate has recently come out of the closet and it puts some things in perspective for Blake, enough that he feels the need to apologize to him for his behaviour back in high school. Needless to say that doesn’t end up happening and Blake leaves the reunion feeling worse about the whole thing than when he arrived. I don’t really like the way things were left with this, Blake basically leaves the reunion in disgrace (of some sort) and there’s no confrontation with anyone there, although the way it did happen is probably more realistic. Or maybe if the story was longer things would’ve happened differently? I dunno. It was a shit situation for all involved, I think, and at least Blake had Felix to comfort him afterwards.
The Sex: Not really any. Blake is asexual and has no interest in sex, so he doesn’t have any scenes. Even with Felix, who is pansexual. There’s a short scene where Felix masturbates while he and Blake are sharing a bed, but Blake drunk-passes out before anything really happens so we don’t really see anything from that. We get glimpses of what goes on during a shoot at the porn studio, which aren’t full sex scenes since they have to do multiple takes.
The Writing: The writing in this is good. The characters aren’t really fleshed out (they don’t even have surnames), and background information is minimal, but that’s all really down to the length of the piece. If this was a longer story I imagine we’d get more content and further plot. The moments with Blake and Felix were sweet, Travis and his wife were pretty entertaining, and most things about the reunion were fairly frustrating (which wasn’t anything to do with the writing so much as the situation). It was a quick read and the language and grammar were both good. I would’ve liked to see some things from Felix’s point of view, but the length didn’t really allow for that.
[Ace of Hearts was published May 30, 2015, by JMS Books LLC, it is available only as an ebook]