Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Keeping Sweets by Cate Ashwood

Keeping Sweets by Cate Ashwood

Days away from high school graduation, with hardly a penny to his name, Evan Lowry needs to earn money for college.  When he comes across an ad for modeling, he things his luck has changed--until he learns he's interviewing for an adult film and will be expected to have sex.  On camera.  With other men.

For gay porn star Brandon Court, the shine has worn off of regular shoots.  He and his producer, Les, decide to try something new: a reality-show porno set at a beach house.  When he meets wide-eyed and naive Evan for the first time, Brandon isn't sure if he wants the kid to get lost or get naked.  Naked wins.

On set, Brandon takes Evan under his wing, and over the next month, they are thrown together in every intimate way conceivable--except emotionally.  Both Brandon and Evan are terrified of trying for anything deeper, and insecurities and doubts wear on their hopes, but the chemistry between them won't let them slow things down.

Keeping Sweets is another wonderful example of why I love Cate Ashwood's writing so very much.  Evan's always-drunk stepfather has made it clear that as soon as Evan has his diploma in hand he is no longer welcome in the house that hasn't really been home for years.  He has worked his keister off for years to be accepted into a good university with scholarships, but he still has to pay for living expenses.  With no degree and few resources, Evan stumbles across a site for modeling and only after being accepted for an interview does he realize it is an adult modeling site.  Evan has nothing to lose by simply seeing what they might want from him, so he agrees to the interview.

Bran, who has always gone by the screen name of Noah, is rapidly tiring of the porn industry.  After ten years, he is starting to think that he is trapped--he doesn't have any other training or a college degree, but at twenty-seven he is getting older in an industry of mostly younger guys.  The new project he is undertaking with his producer, and surrogate dad, Les, will allow him to have some time behind the cameras and on the production end of things.  Now if they could only find six guys to hire...problem is most of the interviews have featured men with more attitude and ego than warranted and Bran is able to be picky at this point in his career.  And then Evan walks in...all nerves and big eyes...and somehow snags Bran's interest even though Bran KNOWS he should steer clear of this innocent kid.  And then Bran discovers exactly how innocent Evan really the time they do an interview and a little "hands-on" auditioning, Bran is hooked.

Evan is equal parts thrilled and scared to be chosen for Bran's big project.  He finds himself drawn to Bran but realizes that his emotions are most likely not wanted and definitely not returned.  When Evan and Bran start to hang out together, they both find something in the other that they have been looking for but the future does not seem to be in their favor...What do an aspiring college kid and a getting-too-old-for-this-shit adult film actor have in the way of true prospects?  Both determine that they will live in the moment but it quickly becomes clear that neither are interested in being with the other guys at the house where they are filming even if it is only an act--it feels like a real betrayal.  

For a book set in the porn industry, this book was truly sweet.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all of the guys making the film together were likable.  We don't get to know all of them that well (hoping that changes as this is the first in a series), but while they were all in the project for different reasons all of them seemed genuinely interested in having a good time and getting along.  There wasn't any unnecessary drama-queen attitudes or other problems from the other people in the house and it wasn't missed.  Bran and Evan had enough problems without adding any of that into the equation.  I will say that personally I think a good sit-down conversation between the two MCs might have solved a lot of problems and prevented a lot of the end-of-book angst, but I wasn't annoyed by the way things ended.  I look forward to reading Resurrecting Elliott soon as I can't wait to revisit this author and the world she has created.  

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