Thursday, May 14, 2009

Palace of Sexy Reversed

Great Moments from Last Night's Reading
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.
Happy Ending Ebook (only $4.50!!) available here. Excerpt here.
**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.


Lea said...

Hi Carolyn Jean:

Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts. After your post here and chat with L.B. Gregg about "Happy Endings", I bought and downloaded both books and have them on my e-reader.

Your post and heightened the anticipation with respect to this read.

By the way, I think your post is awesome and I'm going to re-read it...

Best Regards

Kati said...

Ah CJ - There are few things I enjoy more than reading your interpretation of scenes in romance.

I have this book on my computer and keep promising myself I'll read it, and then forgetting. Tonight is the night.

Me and LBea have a date. ;o)

Carolyn Crane (aka Carolyn Jean) said...

Lea! How sweet of you to say that. It means a lot to me that you would reread my little post. I'll be interested to see what you think about the book!

Kati: I knew you had this and I've been wondering what you thought. Hope you and LB have a good date. Oh, thanks so much for the kind words!

Anonymous said...

great topic! in third person written romances i always wait with anticipation to get into the alpha males POV, so i agree it would be very refreshing and intriguing to read a whole book in first person from the apha persepctive!

Mandi said...

I was actually on LB's site yesterday and bought this book! Now I really want to read it. Very excited it is in the alpha's POV. I will be moving it up to the top of my tbr:)

Carolyn Crane (aka Carolyn Jean) said...

LR: Oh, interesting. Oddly, I never really thought about it much until this book, but now I'll pay more attention.

Mandi: Ooh, enjoy!!! I'll be interested to see what you think.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Great thoughts like always CJ!
I love me some hot alpha males. Rowl.

Jill Sorenson said...

You are dangerous to my TBR, CJ. I bought Happy Endings this morning because of your post. Starting reading and got sucked in right away! M/m isn't my thing, but I really liked this story. Surprisingly sweet in some places and laugh out loud funny.

Color me impressed!

And the cute UPS man just came with Blue Diablo. Life is good.

whateverfor said...

Carolyn Jean,

This book is amazing - I really liked Gobsmacked, but you're so right that this one is immediately more likeable. David and Seth's story is so sweet and I don't know if it was the writing style or what, but this seemed shorter - I read it in like two hours. Could be it was just that good. :)

I love reading your reviews - actually, I read them aloud to my husband. Poor guy, he doesn't read romance and indulges me sometimes when something really strikes me, but you're so damned witty and funny that he can't stop me from sharing. muahahah!


lbgregg said...

You know, this book is about 5 K or maybe even 6 K shorter than Gob. It's fast and it's fun and I think I loved being in Seth's voice a wee bit too much. There was something...liberating about his lack of angst. He just did his thing and he got his rocks off. Fun fun fun.

Thanks for your kind words, everyone.

And Cee Jay, you naughty thing. You picked the second most juicy part. I'm partial to the couch scene myself.


orannia said...

CJ - you are EVIL! *suddenly realises that could be miscontrued* a good way! I want to read this book so badly now it isn't funny! And on my dinky slow computer too! But hey, who cares where I read it, as long as I can :)

Renee said...

I think what keeps Seth real are his touches of tenderness. He'll say or think one thing (usually something hard ass) and then DO the sweet/thoughtful thing. Especially, with David.

LB: Yes. Couch. Good. (My Neanderthal impression.)

More alpha 1st person povs! Can anyone think of any others that are out there?

Tracy said...

I'm with much as I liked Gobsmacked I loved this one. I think that's because of being in Seth's head. I loved every minute of it. That was a great scene you quoted! *sigh* I'm gonna have to read it again soon!

Lori said...

*sob* still on my reader... unread. Fantastic thoughts on it, CJ. Waving at LB!!

Jenre said...

Great post CJ. I had the same thoughts as you about Seth: Yay, we're geting this from the Alpha's pov, what a refreshing change.

Carolyn Crane (aka Carolyn Jean) said...

KB: Get reading!

Jill: Wow, that was fast. I'm so glad you liked it. Congrats on wrapping the draft.

WhatVFR: Yes, this one I think is shorter, but also it does clip. Thanks SO much for saying that about my posts! You don't know how good that makes me feel.

LBG: howdy!

Orannia: EVOL!

Renee: Right. He's fully dimensional.

Tracy: Always a good sign when they get better with each.

Lori: LOL.

Jenre: Totally refreshing.

Mary M. said...

How cool! I don't think I've read many M/M books from the alpha's POV either - certainly not any in the 1st person taht I can remember. You just gave me an added incentive to read this book. Thanks!