(An immediate aside: Isn’t the model for this book cover delicious?)
Wow. It’s weird getting back into the reviewing groove, but I have to. I have that slightly dazed “I stayed up too fucking late reading a good book but it was so fucking awesome I had to” feeling. Book hangover, I like to call it.
I got this one last night staying up to finish Damon Suede’s Pent Up. What can I say about this book? What can’t I say about this book? First of all, trigger warnings out the wazoo: It’s a GFY (gay for you for anyone not familiar with the parlance). It’s nice because while there’s some light angst surrounding it, it’s not some type of spiral into a pit of horrible feelings. It’s more of a “holy shit, fucking dudes isn’t half bad…Gah!” type GFY. As far as other triggers go—there is violence, bloodshed, corporate espionage type stuff, discussions of socioeconomic differences, discussions of self injury, discussions of alcoholism at its finest and what it can do to a person. What I’m really trying to say here, is that while Pent Up is a “fun” read it isn’t necessarily a totally light read. It’s not fluff, so look elsewhere for that.
My reviews sometimes venture into the realm of spoilery, so I’ll tell you my general thoughts here and then you can peace out if you don’t like to know much about a book before you read it:
This book kicked ass and took names and made me it’s bitch. It was a great read. Read it with my blessing. For real.
Let’s take a look at the blurb.
PENT UP: Mix business with pleasure and take cover.
Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.
Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold-running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?
What’s a bullet catcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford, and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.
Find the sample here.
Pent Up had real characters who were real people doing real shit. They are messed up people. Ruben is a recovering alcoholic. Andy is an adrenaline junky (in his own nerdy way) who ruins people’s lives when it suits his business needs. And they’re wonderfully terrible together in all the right ways.
There were parts of this book that had a juicy telenova feel to it, but not in a bad way that makes you roll your eyes, just in a voyeuristic way that draws you in deeper. There are so many different people you simply would love to know more about. The woman at the fund raiser who slaps Andy. The couple that go to the strip club with Ruben and Andy. Hope. You’re left wondering after these people in the best way possible because you know if you got to read their stories they would be every bit as entrancing as the one you’re reading, and you kind of want it.
The side characters in this book made the book live. They were all such well rounded, shiny additions to the narrative. I loved Peach. I can just picture this crazy old lady dishing out wisdom with a side of cigarette smoke.
Even Ruben’s brother was great for what he was. I think maybe more could have been done with Andy’s family and step father considering how much of a plot point they were, but on the average it was good.
Plot. Plot! This book is plot driven as well as character driven. Enough said. I can’t get enough of a book with some actual, god damn plot points. Bring it, Suede. Bring it hard. Loved it.
The way the sex is described in this book it’s very clear there’s zest, real commitment to gritty, real life detail. And it’s amazing. It’s all the best dirty parts of sex that often get scraped aside because it’s not pretty. And it absolutely sings a fucking sex aria all over the page every time it occurs in the book.
So. Much. Good.
It almost hurts.
One scene in particular captured that new romance feeling for me. Ruben and Andy are in a limo and there’s this intense instant where Ruben is thinking about taking Andy’s hand. They’ve been flirting around each other and he wants to but he doesn’t, and he wants Andy to make the first move but at the same time he kind of wants to freak out a little and probably would if Andy took his hand…and ugh. It captures that first buzz of romantic tension absolutely perfectly.
One Thing that Really Bugged Me and I mean ONE GODDAMNED THING IN THE WHOLE BOOK:
Maybe I’m just being stupid, and when you read the book you can let me know, but I found the scene in the book where Hope and Ruben are trying to figure out who has Andy after he’s been yoinked from the penthouse to be utterly confusing. I read the whole book. I didn’t skim. I never skim. I’m a reasonably intelligent person, yet I have zero idea how, based on the words on the page, that Ruben and Hope came up with the (correct) answer they did about what was going on with Andy financially. I didn’t connect the dots to make the picture ALONG with the characters.
Maybe it was just me. I’m willing to live with it if that’s the case.
Damon Suede has become an auto buy for me after this book. Buy this book, I can’t emphasize it enough. I read Hot Head, which I didn’t review, and it was amazing. I, being a cynical bastard at times, thought maybe Hot Head was a one off, a single grand slam, and so purchased Pent Up while still riding the wave of wonder left over from Hot Head. I was fully expecting a let down. If you read a 5 star book what can keep up with it? Pent Up was worth it. I have this sneaking suspicion every book Damon Suede writes might be worth it. He writes from the gut, writes real shit, writes real emotions and people. While Damon Suedes isn’t a read for when you’re feeling fluffy, at least not in my opinion, he is a read for when you want substance.
Pick up my newest release, The Shape of Honey!
Yulian Volkov is an entrepreneur and lone werewolf who hates the city. At a pack meeting, he learns the only member he’s attracted to is being expelled for crimes unspecified. Yulian strikes a deal with the pack leader to allow Rolly Witten to live on his farm and work in his Meadery. Although enjoying handsome Rolly’s company, Yulian must tread carefully, since Rolly doesn’t trust him and the pack doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality exists. Meanwhile, Yulian stealthily courts Rolly by teaching him the value of his wolf side.
Rolly, who’s known he was gay since he was a teen, has accepted a life of solitude—and a life of crime. He has no desire to relocate. Yet Yulian’s trust in his ability to do honest work builds his confidence. As life is settling well for them, Rolly learns a friend from his old pack had a crush on him, and he’s torn between returning his friend’s feelings or pursuing the budding relationship with Yulian. But that’s not their worst problem. Assassins are trying to take out both wolves, and they need to figure out who wants them dead or all the trust and happiness they’re building together won’t matter.