You’ll never want to exercise again as Eric Arvin and TJ Klune turn a gym full of hunks into a smorgasbord of terror in GHOUL’S GYM.
This is full of explicit gore. If you have a sensitive stomach, this is not the book for you. Me, I was eating chips and other non-healthy foods while reading. So there's that.
Also, I initially felt very, VERY pervy when I read this because the MCs' descriptions reminded me of the authors, and then I caught myself visualizing that first scene, and OMG, I had to skim it bc reasons. Thankfully, it's the only sexually explicit scene in the book, and the rest of it unfolded quite beautifully. Horrifically beautiful, that is, because once we hit the gym where Uly works, all hell breaks loose in all its gory details.
No details are spared, you see. We get to read it all, from flesh being chewed (bc Zombies) and extremities being ripped off (bc strong zombies), but underneath the gore and the blood and the disemboweling is a tender love story between a beefy, muscled giant named Uly and a lanky Jake who despite working out just cannot seem to sprout the muscles his boyfriend has.
Uly's boss at the gym, Stephen Dorian, has the hots for Uly, and spares no commentary on what he thinks Jake is lacking, which sends Jake into a tailspin of self-doubt which then leads to him doing a stupid, stupid thing.
Uly of course, gentle giant that he is, submissive to Jake's dominant role in their relationship, has no clue. He's not a simpleton, but he also believes that Jake should know how much Uly loves him, and hates it when they fight due to Jake's (unnecessary) jealousy.
You see, underneath the gore and the blood and the chewing off of dicks, underneath the 'red' that has transformed Jake into a raging monster, he can still see Uly. He still needs Uly, needs him to make it all okay, and the ending, while making sense, still had me with my heart in my throat and tears in my eyes, because I didn't want it to end that way.
The writing is superb. I could tell that two people wrote this book, as the POVs switch from Uly to Jake, and that was a good thing. We needed the differentiation, we needed the changes in personality because they bled through into the two very different characters. And I wondered, throughout the book to be honest, how much of Eric was there to be found in Uly, and how much of Tj was there in Jake. And how much each of them used their own view of each other in their characters' views of their partners. (that made sense in my head.)
It's an homage to love, really, despite the icky subject, and how two men so seemingly opposite can be exactly what they need in each other. How two men can transcend the horror and the gore, and be reduced to simply love and need and hope and faith.
Considering the real life love story between the two authors, I projected a lot of what I've seen of them onto the characters they created. Possibly foolish and silly, but it is what it is.
I was sucked in from the start, despite the initial moment of OMG, stupid brain, and I can only recommend this book to anyone who loves M/M love stories and has a stomach for horror.
Very well done, this one!
** ARC Courtesy of Wilde City Press. **
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