“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness.” ― Chuck Palahniuk
Well. As far as first experiences with an author go, I’d have to say Garrett Leigh has made an impression on me with this entirely too delicious novella that offers a little “Oh myyyy…” on the side, just for grins.
Her first installment in the Blue Boy series, Bullet, is a wonderland of sex and lust that at first glance might seem an obvious summary of a plot that’s set in the porn industry, but is, in fact, a little bit deceptive because those two things are so much more about the way the main characters relate to each other off the job than on. Sex and lust are not only what these men have in common, but it’s also what brings them together and what remains between them as their connection grows beyond it.
Levi Ramone has been doing porn for the same reasons a lot of guys end up doing porn: he has a personal need. Porn is good money, it’s fast money, it’s easy money, and it’s guaranteed sex. Levi has a full-time job, a really good job, as a matter of fact, but his father’s gone and that has left him solely responsible for an alcoholic mother whose gambling addiction has forced him to find a way to pad the income he earns at is day job. He needs the money badly, and as good as Levi is at what he does, it would seem Blue Boy needs him just as much in return. He has been in the business a long time, so long that he has a following, so long that he’s earned a reputation for fucking like it’s work; he’s earned a rep for treating his bottoms like they’re nothing more than a convenient way to get off; and over his seven years at Blue Boy, one thing has remained a constant—he never, ever bottoms. Ever. Funny little word, never, though, isn’t it? Because never always seems to find a way to turn around and bite a guy in the arse, right when he needs it the most and expects it the least.
Over the years, the owner of Blue Boy has tried to convince Levi to bottom but hasn’t done what it takes to make it lucrative enough for Levi to consider crossing that one barrier. Or, as the case is, letting someone else cross that barrier. He may screw other men for public consumption, but he has boundaries he won’t cross. Until, that is, Jon adds another zero to the offer and makes it one Levi can’t refuse.
Enter Sonny Valentine, a hard-bodied, beautiful Go-Go boy who has bottomed for everyone at Blue Boy…except Levi. There’s good reason for that: Sonny loathes Levi for the way he treats his bottoms—the way his apathy bleeds over into his scenes, and the way he dismisses them when he’s done—but the hate is mutual. Levi hates Sonny on principle, and he hates himself just a little for being attracted to the man who grates on his ever last nerve. Hate and love toe such a razor-thin line, don’t they?
When a man sells off that last small vestige of control he has over himself and a life that entails little more than eating, sleeping, working, enduring his mother’s drunken abuse, and having on-camera sex with men he doesn’t care about, he’s probably sunk as far as he can before he has to start over. Although Garrett Leigh makes a point to remind us all that sometimes life does a good enough job all on its own of pushing a man to the brink, and there’s a tipping point for Levi that all comes to a boiling point during his shoot, which is the turning point for Levi and Sonny.
Bullet is an enemies-to-lovers story, but it’s not an insta-love story, so, all you non-believers out there, rejoice! It’s not a story that gets tied up into a neat little package of happily-ever-after either, so all you HEA-ers beware. I’d even be hard pressed to call this one a happy-for-now ending, honestly, because The End is merely Prologue, the beginning of a continuation that might just be the start of a beautiful relationship, one that the author delivers in a way that had me rooting for Levi and Sonny, that still has me rooting for Levi and Sonny, because they aren’t done yet. Are they? Blue Boy: Book 2: is already earmarked on my auto-buy list.