Review

Review: Pretty Man by Ryan Field (2018)

Heat Factor: The narrative ties together the sex scenes rather than vice versa

Character Chemistry: They didn’t have time to develop chemistry with all the sex going on

Plot: Pretty Woman with an oddly reversed power dynamic

Overall: I would not characterize this as a romance novel

I swooped in and downloaded this galley copy because I thought it would be a sweet, fun romance. It’s actually a reissue of a book that dates back about a decade, and it might show its age a little bit. The new cover evokes Pretty Woman. The title also references that story. Who doesn’t know Pretty Woman? It’s a pretty classic romance at this point. The power dynamic is wacko, but yeah, classic.

Just so you are not as surprised as I was…other than in some bare structural essentials, this story is not Pretty Woman. I’m not even sure it’s a romance novel. Given that the protagonists meet and are having lots of sex in the first chapter, and also given a flow of narrative scene-sex scene-narrative scene-sex scene throughout the book, I’d characterize this as erotica. Maybe romantic erotica.

Here’s the thing about the romance, though: I don’t buy it. Perhaps it’s a realistic take on romance since the story runs the course of about a week, but there’s so much explicit sex that there’s really no opportunity to show a romantic relationship developing. Burgeoning romance shoehorned in during the narrative scenes with sentences like: “Roland picked up a few suits, dress shirts and ties for Josh. Roland knew Josh wouldn’t need all the outfits that week, but liked buying things for him.” Or: “Roland put his hands in his pockets and stood there with a huge smile on his face. He’d so wanted to remain detached, but when Josh’s eyes lit up and his smiled formed, Roland almost stopped breathing.” Seriously. That’s it. The romance is pretty much 100% about how much these guys want to bone. The sex also trends to be more adventurous as the narrative continues, as in This Is A Sexual Awakening. There’s no “I love you” and no “I want this to last” either.

In terms of writing style, the prose is simple and immediate. Not a lot of variance in sentence structure. The verbiage is earthy, too. The protagonists fuck every opportunity they have (and that’s the word they use with each other, too). There’s some sexual chewing at one point – yes, chewing, not nipping. One frequent description that also just did not make sense to me was this one: “He loved the way Josh smelled, like a man should smell: of raw beef and onions…” Also yeasty beer is in that raw meat and onions sexy smell category.

This book is just not what I signed up for.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.


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