Sunday, October 30, 2011

REVIEW: The One That Got Away by Rhianne Aile & Madeleine Urban

The One That Got AwayThe One That Got Away by Rhianne Aile &
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review, Spoilers

This review rated the 2nd Edition which has an additional "15,000 or so words" compared to the 1st Edition. Plus the 2nd Edition has a better looking cover, imo, by the artist Paul Richmond.

The One That Got Away is a Gay-For-You story. Readers who dislike the GFY theme should avoid this book. Readers who are selective about their GFY story should know this story lack "omfg, am I gay?" identity-crisis drama...and, to an extend, drama overall. Here's a perfect example.
Trace wasn’t so concerned about the bisexual label; he was comfortable with himself and he was comfortable with sex in general. He was more concerned that what he had with David would flare and soon burn out, leaving them too uncomfortable to even be friends. The thought made his chest hurt so badly that he couldn’t sit still, and he had to get up and pace, trying to shake the pain off. He didn’t want that, not at all. He’d rather give up the newfound passion than have that happen.
1) GFY isn't very realistic. 2) A "former" straight suddenly crushing on his gay best-friend without a barrel of angst and drama isn't very realistic at all. Not that such a circumstance is impossible, but it is highly—very highly improbable. Readers wanting a realistic contemporary mm-romance should probably save their money for something else.

But readers who wants to something drama-free, homophobia-free GFY — I recommend this. The homophobia-free part on the former straight's side was the hook, line, and sinker for me to read the story.

Sexual Content

The first 60% of the story was essentially sexual tension. Yet, I wasn't frustrated by this because the authors wrote it drama-free. The best way for me to describe the sexual tension is by comparing it to heating a pot of water. The water never boiled to bubbles but it was always simmering.

The last 40% of the story was mainly foreplay scenes that culminated into wanking each other off or blowjobs. The foreplay scenes were long and graphic, and they heightened the sexual tension. There was only one penetration scene and it was near the ending.

The transition from sexual tension to action was slow and smooth. Never a moment was there any explosive, rough "do it hard and fast and many" sex. As said before in the metaphor, the water never boiled to bubbles.

Even though the last 40% of story was mainly sexual actions (and 100% of the story is sexual tension), I never got the impression that story was an erotica. The characters were trying to carefully transition from being best friends to being lovers. This is why the couple took it slow in their sexual actions.

The couple were always aware of the delicate nature of their changing relationship. Because if one wrong move or thing happen, not only would they stop becoming lovers but their friendships probably wouldn't survive either. Both David and Trace needed to know for themselves if risking their friendship was worth developing the love for each other.

Things I Didn't Like

The ending was abrupt. In the second to last chapter, it ended with Trace finally consenting to bottom for David and to a larger extend kind of implied that Trace would move back in with David. Then in the last chapter, readers learned some time passed after the previous chapter and we see Trace and David publicly revealing their relationship at a charity event.

I would have prefer it if there a scene between the two making love or doing something together as a couple after they both finally agreed to be each other's boyfriend. To be specific, I wanted another chapter before the epilogue to help me as reader digest the fact in my mind that David and Trace were now officially a couple.

The story was told in 3rd POV, splitting between David and Trace's perspective. The story got a little confusing when the authors blurred David and Trace's perspective in the same paragraph/moment. So it was took some re-reading before I could allocate whose thoughts were whose. I didn't like this because it interrupted my flow of reading.

I didn't comprehend the title "The One That Got Away" since no one got away. I kind of expected there would be a moment in the plot where the two would be separated and one would go away but later on they would be reunited. In short, a reunited scene after much tear-jerking drama. But nothing like that ever happened, David and Trace were always together and I didn't see any danger that they would call it quits, even when Trace moved back to his home. I would be really interested in knowing why the authors (or their publisher) named the story the way that it is.

The story had a slow pacing that I didn't care much for. The slow pacing combined with the foreplay scenes made the sexual tension great, but sometime I wished the plot would move along already. This story didn't have that "got to keep reading to find out what happen next" mood, there were moments I got bored and just put the book down not once but multiple times. Well, on the bright side, at least I always remember what was happening in the book when I pick it back up.

I didn't like how Trace slightly felt pressured into being a bottom for David. MM-Romance will function just fine if one lover is a total bottom and the other a total top. I think the couple should have a talk over what they prefer in sex so both would be happy with the sex and wouldn't be pressured into doing anything they didn't care to do.

Things I Liked

I like David. I like Trace. I like Matt. Basically, I liked all the characters. No one annoyed me, even the amusingly wicked Katherine. However, I think Patrick and the two straight guys (ha, I don't even remember their names) in their poker group could have used some character development even if they were only minor characters.

I like how Trace didn't have any homophobic moment when he discovered he may have feelings for a guy. I like how he was mostly worry about ruining their friendship if he acted on love and David didn't reciprocate, or if David did reciprocate but the relationship just wouldn't work out at the end.

Because of how easily receptive Trace was with gay love, the story didn't have much conflict or drama or angst. Hell, the guy continued to sleep in David's room on David's bed after hearing David confessed to being gay. This bugged some people...ALOT, but not me.

I don't care much for GFY because there's always heartbreak and sad angry drama. Not to say I hate drama but I just dislike the kind that goes hand in hand with GFY stories. Just once would I like to read a GFY where the drama is something other than homophobia or just no drama at all. The One That Got Away served that kind of story to me. Sure, it wasn't realistic but for once I didn't give a shit. Heh. =P

I like how there wasn't a long, extended, misunderstanding jealousy scene that convinces the couple that they love each other. The authors could have totally done this because Matt was David's ex and Patrick was bi which Trace could relate to. So very easy for the authors to use the Big Misunderstanding trope to separate the lovers for a while and make huge unnecessary drama. But they didn't and that was great.

Thought the stories had more foreplay and BJ scenes than I would like and only one penetration scene, I still thought the sex scenes were hot and well written. The sex scenes really fitted the mood of the entire story.

I rate The One That Got Away 3-stars for an I-liked-it.

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