Life as a rent boy is not a long-term career goal for Nathan, who's determined to get an education. But when he turns up for his first day at college he's horrified to find his English teacher is one of his regular customers: Stephen, the one Nathan dubbed The Voice for his educated, honeyed tones.
Stephen's just as shocked to see Nathan sitting in his class, not to mention terrified he's about to be exposed as having paid for sex with a student which would mean public humiliation and maybe the loss of his job. Yet it's clear Nathan is only interested in getting his A Levels, not in blackmail. And Stephen realizes there's more to the nineteen-year-old than meets the eye.
Nathan still has to earn a living, though, and when a customer turns ugly, he finds himself homeless and unable to work. Stephen steps in to help, and Nathan starts to think they could have a future together if Stephen's guilt and lack of trust don't end their back-to-front romance before it starts.
Merrow's writing, dialogue, and character development are brilliant. Even though I don't typically enjoy rent boy stories, there was something poignant about Nathan's plight. He hooks to pay rent and makes no excuses for his choices.
The story is told from Nathan's POV, but Stephen's motivations become more clear as the plot progresses.
Since Nathan is mature and level-headed, the age gap was an almost non-issue here, as was the fact that Stephen turns out to be Nathan's professor. Stephen is nothing but professional, even as he yearns to take care of Nathan.
I wish this novella had been longer, as I liked the MCs and story development. There was so much more to say, and the ending, which was a happy-for-now, left me wanting more.