Reviewed by Chris
SERIES: Portland’s Men #1
AUTHOR: Michelle King
PUBLISHER: Loose Id
LENGTH: 36,868 words
RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2016
For Travis, it was business as usual at the office of Wentwood Investments, other than the annoying task of finding a new account manager for his expanding department. Everything changed the moment Jeremy Roberson walked into the room for a job interview. The cuddly butterball was everything Travis liked in a partner…other than the closet locked around him.
The closet’s walls may have been cold, but the heat between Jeremy and Travis scorched. Nothing could stop the firestorm, not even the threat of a lawsuit or the disapproval of the dreaded HR department. They needed each other, emotionally and professionally. Unfortunately, fear held Jeremy. It was a fear Travis knew well.
If he was going to find paradise alongside Jeremy, it appeared he’d have to help his secret partner claim his homosexuality. It wouldn’t be much fun, no, but it wouldn’t be the first closet he’d stormed. And Jeremy was worth it.
Publisher’s Note: Butterball was previously released by another publisher but it has been revised and re-edited in this version.
Jeremy is desperate for a job. He has been out of work for a while and what was left of his meager savings after the economy took a swan dive is gone. His last hope is a position under Travis, the head of Wentwood Investments. Unfortunately, while he’d be great of the job, Travis also seems to think Jeremy would be great in his bed as well. Which is great…except that way lies madness (and potential law suits). But the two can’t seem to keep away from each other, no matter the risk. And it is a risk, because not only would Travis be his boss, but if there relationship was made public that’d mean Jeremy would have to come out of his closet.
Which is something that terrifies him more than almost anything else.
While I would love to say that I liked this book, I’m afraid I can’t. I was really hoping it would be something. There are not many books written with plus-size men, and while the title made me a bit trepidatious, I still hoped. Sadly I hoped in vain.
I wanted this to be a book where an overweight man was seen as worthy and strong and every bit as enticing to his partner. And while Travis undoubtedly was attracted to Jeremy, it was made perfectly clear that Travis was clearly the better one in this relationship. Their two lives parallel a lot in terms of abusive history and their struggles in life, but where Travis overcame, Jeremy faltered. And hey, this could have been great. I have seen it used several time to great affect. Except all of it seemed to highlight just how weak Jeremy was.
Travis overcame his abuser, Jeremy succumbed.
Travis bravely walked out the closet, Jeremy hid.
Travis built up his company towards sucess, Jeremy crashed his in a fit of greed and idiocy.
Travis’ body is a temple, Jeremy gluts himself at every opportunity.
Travis is a strong Dom, Jeremy a sub playing at domination.
Travis is a boss, Jeremy can’t even find a job.
Travis is the Brave Knight, Jeremy is to be rescued.
Travis’ endearment is that of a King, Jeremy’s of a child.
And while some of these things are fine in other contexts it all added up to the glaring conclusion that Jeremy was clearly to be seen as a lesser man than Travis. From the first time the reader was introduced to Jeremy (in that frankly disgusting display of invasion of privacy by Travis’ best friend) we are set up to almost mock Jeremy. He is presented as nothing more than the stereotypical fat old dude who is caught out doing sleazy acts with much prettier people. He is a tabloid headline. A joke. All the while Travis is presented as the wealthy businessman. The man who could have anyone with a snap of his finger. Ten-inch dick and an ego to match.
Tell me, which one do you want to be?
I have no idea if that was the intention of the author, in fact I really hope it was not, but I couldn’t lie and say that I was not deeply disappointed in how Jeremy was portrayed. I don’t know if I would be as pissed off if the character had been just another mass-market gay dude. Somewhat hot, and pleasing to all. I know I would have been disappointed in the lack of character development…but angry? Probably not.
So maybe it is a bit personal, but I am angry. I am angry that yet again the fat person is the butt of all the jokes. That for some reason he could not be the strong one. He just had to be the one with all the issues. With all the flaws. And hey, I would have been fine with a lot of his flaws if he was allowed to be more than them. Because, yeah, fat people have issues the same way other people do. Jeremy might have been a really interesting character if he had not been infantilized–really? calling a 50 year old man Jer-bear? (and don’t even get me started on how I feel about ‘butterball’)–by Travis, constantly treated like he needed to be taken care of without a even asking permission.
(And I’d rather not touch on the whole Dom/sub/BDSM aspect of this book other than to say that it came off as if written by someone whose whole BDSM experience came from badly written erotica. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much how I would categorize the sex scenes of the this book.)
There is no denying that Travis finds Jeremy attractive (and yeah, that is cool and all) but it came off as if Travis should be given a cookie for this. Congrats, you dig the fat dude! Here is your prize for putting up with his (many many) faults! And while I liked that both MCs were older men, that does not diminish my utter disappointment at how this all played out. The frankly insulting way Jeremy’s character was handled makes me question if I would ever read another book by this author. I do not expect perfection from authors, but I would at least have them consider if their portrayal of certain characteristics does more harm than good.