Book: Happy Ending by LB Gregg
Spoiler Level: LOW
So are people reading this book and digging it like I am? Is there a buzz? I've been so AWOL I don't even know what's up in blogland, but I know I'm loving this even more than Gobsmacked - the details, the smart humor, the magical way these two characters mesh. But really what I want to talk about from last night’s reading is the first person alpha perspective.
First person alpha: Whoa!
Has anybody else noticed this? I know it's not unusual to get an alpha male point of view per se. I mean, you get it in almost any romance or paranormal told in third person: at some point, it switches to the alpha male mind. But what’s so fun and fascinating to me** in Happy Endings is that it's first person so it stays in first-person narrator Seth's alpha male mind. You get the alpha mind in scenes you normally wouldn’t.
Like, I’ll be reading along and think, wow, if this was BDB, this scene would TOTALLY be told out of the woman’s mind. I’m specifically talking about scenes of sexual domination/bossiness.
Below is the scene where it first really struck me. Seth and David have been standoffishly dancing around each other, but suddenly they’ve arranged this tryst, which is to happen in the back of the restaurant where David works. Seth goes out and waits in the dark and watches David.
He [David] yanked that tie from his neck with one hand, jerking it loose, and then stuffing it into his back pocket. He unbuttoned the top couple buttons of his shirt, and ran a hand through his hair. He waited there at the top of the stairs, spotlit, enjoying the freedom from work, I guessed. Taking in the night air. Or trying to figure out if I was out there, lying in wait in the shadows.
This was such a kick, because I’m so used to being in the head of the character wondering if the alpha is out there, not the alpha laying in wait. Then David spots Seth and goes to him. Here, again, from alpha Seth's mind:
He stopped in front of me. “So we doing this thing or what?”
Relieved that we were on the same page, I wrapped a hand around his wrist and pulled him into my chest, dragging him back into the shadows around the side of the building. I felt Neanderthal.
“My place is right up the stairs—”
I thrust his lithe body into the brick; his breath escaping in a whoosh. Startled, he looked up at me, his mouth hanging open, those blue eyes huge in the moonlight. Before he could protest or finish his sentence, I licked his lower lip to shush him. […] His eyes closing was all the permission I needed before I brought my mouth to his again.
Not only is it unusual, but it's really well done; there's an ocean of thoughtful understanding behind how Seth's perception is created. Like with this later:
He made a noise deep in his throat that spurred me on, because—truthfully? I wanted my cock in there. In about a minute I was going to put it there. I wanted to press him down to his knees. I wanted to bind him with that tie. I wanted to fuck him while I stood in the parking lot over him and he was helpless, at my mercy, as the cars drove up West Street and I took him in the darkness.
What was wrong with me?
And then David is giving Seth a blow job and this whirls through his head:
I latched on to him and with no finesse, no concern for the welfare or the comfort of this new partner, I fucked his mouth hard.
And he took it willingly. Sweetly.
“You like that? You like it rough?” My God what had come over me? I didn’t even know this guy. I didn’t know myself. I was out of control, but Christ did he seem to enjoy it.
So unusual! Why?
Why is this sort of moment almost always told from the David point of view in books I read? I think maybe it's more dramatic if you're on the David end, and I think women are more likely to be on the David end, and so there's a deep identification factor that adds to the drama.
My writing mentor used to say, Don't give the reader what they want, give them something better. I think this is a case of that, because it's so cool to be in Seth's mind here. Seth acts a bit like a jerk here, but he is so self aware, it makes it interesting. He feels Neanderthal but does the stuff anyway. And remains a lovable character. Little by little, he learns and grows and shapes up. Most satisfying.
So, after the scene above, Seth comes on his face and jerks David off later. Then there’s this awkward bit where Seth sort of snaps to his senses and hopes he hadn't pushed David down into poison ivy or glass. And as David is walking away, up to his apartment: “That’s when I remembered that he’d tried to invite me into his place. He lived right there. The light flipped on, the door closed and I was standing there with my pants down."
I found that just so poignant, that realization of Seth's that it didn't have to be that way. And poor David probably hadn't wanted it quite like that, either. He wanted to invite Seth up! The drama of this is absolutely juicy. I can't wait to see how it plays out in the rest of the book.
**Please note: I’m not as widely read in M/M as some people, so this is more the ramblings of a reader who dabbles in all romance/fantasy/erotica subgenres, which by my lights includes M/M. I’m not trying to say there aren’t other alpha male first person POVs out there - likely there are. I just haven’t read them.