Sunday, March 11, 2018

Book Review: 'Beyond The Grill' by Tracey Michael

Justin and Shane have been casual friends for a while, but it’s only as they slowly get to know each other they realize just how much they have in common – especially when it comes to cars. Justin is wary, he’s screwed up too many friendships by falling in lust and scaring his friends away, but Shane doesn’t seem concerned. Indeed, when Shane offers the use of his garage to help teach Justin more about cars, the two men get even closer, and soon Justin is willing to push the boundaries of their friendship even further.
This is an interesting and multi-layered story. While initially the relationship between Justin and Shane is straight-forward, there come to be a few complications that I felt really deepen the complexity of the plot. Some readers mightn’t enjoy the nefarious lengths Shane’s high school friend Lukas stoop to (drugs and borderline non-consent) but I was pleased that while these lines were flirted with, nothing truly devastating actually occurs. This isn’t a light-hearted, fluffy or sweet style of erotic romance story though and so readers who are looking for something easy and cheery might not want to try this.
I really enjoyed though how the shared love of cars and mechanics kept up as a strong theme throughout the story. Often once the plot deepens and the personal relationships get complicated sometimes shared interests can fall by the wayside in these sorts of stories, but Justin’s car and the stereo system Shane and Justin put in along with their mechanics are a strong thread throughout the story and I really appreciated this. I also liked how Lukas was a deep (albeit nasty) character. He wasn’t just some cardboard cut-out – or the “token bad guy”, he was complicated and wonderfully hateful. These things really filled out the story and kept me interested in each and every page.
A blokey and wonderfully emotional story with a lovely happy ending, this M/M should tick plenty of boxes for readers who like their stories spicy and their plots convoluted.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.