Oliver's life has been hard — but even so he doesn't need the kind of clients who try to corner him and hurt him, possibly kill him. During his escape from such a man, Oliver meets Theo, a bashful scholar who ends up losing his job because of Oliver — and then inviting Oliver home. Not for sex, not as a client, but as a friend, so he can get out of the cold.
Wow, this *has* to be the most innocent book about a reformed rent boy that I've ever read.
After 24 y.o. book curator Theo rescues 20 y.o. hustler Oliver from a sadistic john, the dance that these two do around one another? It was delicate and tentative and considerate, but most of all just beautiful to read.
Theo is lonely and shy, always overlooked, but when he meets Oliver, something inside him connects with the broken young man and he wants nothing more than to protect and be near him, while being very careful not to cross any lines and make Oliver feel used or to diminish his self-worth.
"I mean I wish I could get you off the street, tuck you up here safely, and just … protect you. Make sure you're warm and never hungry."And Oliver is immediately attracted to his introverted, quiet rescuer, desperately hoping to spend more time with Theo, even if Theo might never be comfortable (or confident) enough to be more than his friend -- even though Oliver wants much, much more.
"If you let me stay," said Oliver awkwardly and too quickly, "I'll b-bring my things and put them all in the corner, and I could sleep there, on a blanket, you know. I don't mind sleeping on the floor. It's safe here. I wouldn't have to be out till midnight every n-night. I'd pay rent, as much as I pay there, and I wouldn't be a b-bother or annoy you. I'd keep really quiet and never bring customers home. I'd give you freebies if you want — or never touch you if you'd rather."The book does a lot of telling vs. showing, which normally I find extremely annoying, but, somehow, it actually works in this short novella.
The setting seems also almost historical, of which I'm typically not the biggest fan, but didn't mind at all here. Other than the single mentioning of a telephone, the book could have easily been set a hundred or so years in the past.
Quite shockingly, there is no sex in this book (on-page or off), only a couple of tentative kisses as the story concludes, but the way that the book is written, it more than held my interest and I highly recommend it. I rarely use the word 'lovely,' but this story truly was.
4.25 *adorably-and-quietly-pining* stars for this short, but touching read.
This was my own copy of the book, not provided by the publisher.
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