Saturday, December 19, 2015

Burning Up (e-short story) by Z.A. Maxfield

"Burning Up" is m/m romance (or erotic romance?). I bought it via All Romance Ebooks, but it appears it has been pulled from that site. The publisher is Torquere Press and, oddly enough, I can't find it on  their website either. It's also not listed on the author's website.


Robin, a fire knife dancer, gets burned when his act is disrupted by a drunken heckler. The drunken heckler's ex-boyfriend, Kelly, makes sure Robin gets home okay and then helps him treat his burns.

This story would have been a heck of a lot sweeter if 1) Robin hadn't been burned and 2) if Robin and Kelly had actually known each other for more than a few hours. It wasn't so much that Maxfield forgot Robin's burn as it was that it seemed like his burn should have interfered with the sexytimes portion of the story more. As for the “they only just met” aspect...

Kelly confessed that he used to be a porn star, one half of a supposedly committed couple (the drunken heckler was the other half), except his boyfriend turned out not to be nearly as committed as he was. Robin is gay but previously lived somewhere where, as far as he knew, he was the only gay guy around. He'd never been with another man before, and he was nervous about how he'd measure up, considering that Kelly had more experience. There were some awkward moments as Kelly got upset and hurt because it seemed like Robin was looking at him more as an ex-porn star than as a guy he was attracted to and who was attracted to him in turn.

Kelly's hurt reaction seemed a bit too intense considering that he and Robin had only just met. I mean, Robin only knew him as a guy with bad taste in men, as someone who had helped him treat his burn, and as a porn star (which Kelly himself brought up shortly after they met). Not a lot of time to process that info and get to know Kelly as a person.

I wasn't really comfortable with the two of them having sex and acting like it was the first step to them being a more committed couple than Kelly and his ex. Again, they just met.

I'll wrap this up by talking about the confusing bits. First, there was this part, just before the start of the story:


WTF? When I first read this, I thought it might be a badly-formatted publisher's description. Which I thought was weird, since I had been pretty sure this was a m/m story. Then I read the story and realized it was a m/m story, and that that chunk of text had absolutely nothing to do with anything that happened in it. So what was that chunk of text? Some filler text that someone put in and forgot to take out? I googled it and found out that it came from something called "Deep Cover" by Fancyfigures, which, um, seems like a pretty shady thing for Torquere Press to do. I wonder if that has anything to do with why I can no longer seem to find this story available for sale anywhere.

Second, there was the bizarre dialogue at the end of the story. There were a couple bits I had to read several times, because it seemed like either something had been left out or had been shuffled around. I'm still not sure what was going on there. I wouldn't be surprised if it was some kind of editing error, since that would fit with the weird bit of text at the beginning of the story and the occasionally missing question marks.

  • David's Selfie (e-novella) by Daisy Harris - M/M romance starring another guy who doesn't want to be looked at differently because of his job (in this case, go-go dancer). I've written about this.
  • Locks of Love: A Modern Gay Fairy Tale (e-short story) by Jordan Castillo Price - Something about the feel of Kelly and Robin's romance made me think of this story. Maybe Kelly's need to be "rescued" from the life he had with his ex, and/or the quickness of his and Robin's "romance"? I've written about this story.

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