Monday, October 31, 2016

ARC Review: Ricky by Ashley John

On the surface, Ricky Thompson’s life is one long party. His razor sharp wit and unwavering sexual confidence masks his true pain and suffering, and that’s how he wants to keep things. Ten years after the death of his fiancé, Ricky has completely given up on the illusion of love. Wild nights in the bar and even wilder casual sex have become his coping mechanism, and he wants to keep the party going at whatever cost. When he is attacked in a dark alley and left for dead, Ricky’s life takes an unexpected turn and the party suddenly comes to an end.

Chase Brody doesn’t know where life is taking him. Between running his gym and raising his son, Dylan, the only time he puts himself first is his once a week trip to the gay bars. His family has convinced him he needs to find a mother for Dylan, so he keeps his sexual desires secret. He always believed women were for love and men were for sex, but he is forced to reevaluate everything he thought he knew when he stumbles across a helpless man in need of his help.

After Chase takes Ricky to the hospital, he offers him free self-defence classes, but it soon grows into something more complicated and both men are forced to listen to their hearts once again. Chase doesn’t know how Ricky will fit into his difficult life, and Ricky can’t seem to let go of his past heartache. With so much at stake, will these men admit they were wrong about love and surrender their hearts to each other, or is the risk too great?

Jewel's rating:

Hmmm…. I'm not sure what to say, here. I've been wanting to read this author for a while, but I think I should have gone for one of his shorter stories to get a taste of his story telling and writing style before tackling a full length novel.

Ricky Thompson, 38, has sworn off dating of any kind. Since his fiancé died about a decade ago, Ricky just cannot let himself get close to another. So he hides behind his snark and behind the mask his drag queen persona, Miss Kitty Litter, allows him and insists that all he wants out of life is an endless string of one night stands (well, more like an hour or two). He doesn't want to know their names or anything about them. Just fuck and be gone. If he never allows himself to actually be happy, then he doesn't ever have to feel miserable, either, right? Sure, that makes sense.

Chase Brody, 32, is the single father of a 6 year old son, Dylan, from a one night stand he had. Dylan's mother was a party party girl and way too into drugs to raise a kid. So she left Dylan with Chase and then went her merry party way until it killed her. Chase's homophobic family is always around and telling him he needs to find a woman to settle down with because Dylan needs a feminine influence and every child should have a mother and a father, and all kinds of other traditional family and gender role BS that made me twitch. Insistence on more traditional gender and family roles does have a tendency to piss me off. And that Chase was buying into it, regardless of the fact that he rarely found women sexually attractive, just did not sit right with me.

I don't want to say it was all bad, though, because it wasn't. I liked that Chase was so dedicated to his son and that when he saw Ricky in the alley after his attack, he insisted on staying to help. Chase is really a good guy. And Ricky, though he certainly has more issues than National Geographic, is a man who is hurting, but who doesn't want anyone to know it. But he's not a bad guy, either. He's caring and funny and, when he allows himself, very loving. Plus, there seemed to be a reference to Heidi Cullinan's book, Let it Snow that I totally approved of. The overall theme of self-acceptance and second chances at love, I thoroughly loved. And the cover is rather delicious. Ricky's a beautiful man. And thank goodness for Chase's 80-something year old neighbor. She was one of the only adults in the story with some sense when it came to what really makes a family.

But there was so much tedium wrapped into all that, that I had trouble enjoying the story.

Ricky seemed so determined to never ever take a another chance on love, and I just don't get that. Yeah, life can sure be shitty sometimes, but it also goes on whether you like it or not. And Ricky constantly runs away. I'm sure there are people out there, like Ricky, who are determined to hide from life instead of actually living it, and I pity them as much as I pitied Ricky in this story.

It also bothered me that Chase seemed to be so freaking scared of the words "bisexual" and "gay". He was obviously attracted to men, considering he was a gay bar every weekend to find one to fuck. And, though he did also seem to at least be somewhat attracted to women, or so he claimed, anyway, he was most definitely attracted to men. He presented, to me, like a 4 or 5 on the Kinsey scale. Probably a 5. As far as I can tell, the only woman Chase has slept with was his son's mother, and that was only once. He mentioned that she was the first woman to show him interest.

But he has avoided dating women ever since that one night stand, because I don't think he has the attraction for most women. So why insist for so long, that you're straight-ish? Especially to the guy you can't keep your hands off of? I get that everyone needs to come out in their own time and in their own way, but this bit got just as annoying as Chase's family drama and Ricky's overuse of the word "sweetheart". In spite of the fact that Chase knew several married same sex couples, he clinged to the 'men are for sex, women are for marriage' attitude so long, I wondered if it weren't among his many tattoos. He's either a deeply closeted gay man, or he is bisexual. But he is nowhere near straight-ish.

I honestly think I would have enjoyed Ricky more if it were edited to about half its length. As it was, the story line got too tedious and repetitive and family drama just dragged me down. Between Chase's super homophobic father and brother, his family's insistence that children need a mother and a father, Chase's insistence that he is really straight-ish (almost to the end!), and Ricky constantly running away, I just wanted it all to end. I wanted to enjoy the book. Hell, I want to enjoy every story I read. That's why I read. Sadly, though, I didn't, all that much.

Review copy of Ricky was generously provided, by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

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