Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: Sweet Thing
SERIES: Pretty Boy #2
AUTHOR: Isobel Starling
PUBLISHER: Decent Fellows Press
LENGTH: 244 Pages
RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2017
French male model Simeon Duchamp has a lot of explaining to do.
Two years after a breakdown Simeon is off drugs and booze and wants to stay that way.
On his road to reclaiming his life and modeling career, Sim first needs to apologize to the man he hurt the most -his ex-best friend and object of his unrequited affection Pieter Bayer. Pieter now has a long-term partner, artist Emily Raven, with whom he shares a baby son. Sim is amazed when Pieter accepts his apology, and invites him into his family.
Closeness to Pieter sees Simeon’s longing for his friend is rekindled. But then, when Simeon meets an attractive older man, Bastian Roth at an Art Exhibition, he realizes that there is a soul more broken than his, and Simeon feels compelled to help. Simeon’s connection with the troubled Bastian Roth turns his world upside down. He has to decide whether to allow himself to fall for the man who wants him or pine for the man he can never have.
The rating for this book had me torn. To be absolutely honest, I’m still not completely sure what I thought of it.
Firstly, while this is book two of the series, it’s definitely a standalone. My understanding is that book number one is the story of Simeon’s friend Pieter and Emily, the woman that Pieter falls in love with. This is when Sim’s life explodes in a rather spectacular fashion and leaves him near death locked in a rehab facility. Which is where book two begins. For those who like to stick solely with m/m, Sim’s past is covered enough in this book that you can skip Pieter’s book.
I loved the European feel to this story. Simeon is French and Bastian and Pieter are both German and I felt the atmosphere of the book reflected that. I can’t say if the author’s French or German translations were any good, but I always think it’s a brave writer who includes multiple languages in their stories, because readers fluent in them always tend to find fault.
I also really liked Simeon. I liked watching his pouty, hissy fit attitude morph into a more thoughtful and mature manner. Okay, he was still pouty, and loved being the center of attention, but he grew to consider other people rather than focus completely on his own wants. Simeon was fun and over the top, and you could see how money and fame would cause all sorts of issues for someone like him. Moderation was not a word in his vocabulary, until he was forced to use it.
Unfortunately, while I loved Simeon, Pieter and Emily, I never grew comfortable with Bastian. And it wasn’t the fact that he assaulted Sim the first time they met – be aware that there is some dub con/non con here. In one flashback Bastian’s ex-lover, Matti, finds Bastian masturbating at work over a photo in Matti’s employee file. And I just could not get past that. You know how sometimes there is one scene in a book that ruins the whole thing for you. Well, that was mine. I just found that totally ick and it coloured my perception of Bastian from that point. Then there is the fact that Bastian calls Sim a naughty boy during sex, the exact same thing he use to say to Matti and the fact that Bastian thinks courting Sim after assaulting him is a feasible plan. Nope, Simeon and Bastian just didn’t work for me as a couple, and that obviously makes enjoying the romance element a battle.
Hopefully my issues with Bastian were just a personal thing, and if you decide to give this a book a try you’ll be sold on these men together. Like I said, I enjoyed every other aspect of Sweet Thing, and I especially liked the meaning behind the title.