The Rear Entrance Video series:
- Apple Polisher (book #1)
- Wallflower (book #2)
- Straight Shooter (book #3)
Apple Polisher by Heidi Belleau
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This straight-A student has a dirty little secret.
Christian Blake dreams of being a kindergarten teacher, but making the grade means maintaining a squeaky clean image: no drinking, no drugs, no swearing, no sex. And definitely no falling for his new roommate—tattooed bad-boy Max, who may or may not be a drug dealer.
Most of all, it means no working at a porn store. But Christian’s aunt has cancer, and her beloved Rear Entrance Video will go bankrupt if Christian doesn’t take over managerial duties. Soon enough, Christian finds himself juggling sticky twenty-five cent peepshow booths, a blackmailing employee, and a demanding professor who likes to make an example of him.
And then there’s Max, who doesn’t know anything about the store, but hates Christian’s preppy sweater vests and the closet Christian forces him into when they’re together. Max just wants Christian to be himself—even though Max is keeping secrets of his own. Christian struggles to find the impossible balance between his real life and the ideal one he thinks a teacher needs to live . . . all while trying to keep his aunt’s dream alive without losing his own.
So what did I think?
This was a definite case of the story growing on me. It took a little while to get into but once I was settled into Christian’s story, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
So uptight and eager to make life decisions that showed he was a good person, Christian lived in fear and ended up slow to make the decisions to stand up and support his sick aunt. And he nearly let Max escape, which wouldn’t have been a good thing! They were definitely hot together! (oh my, that scene on the shop floor!)
I think this book had one of the best coming out scenes I’ve read in a while, capturing Christian perfectly.
Here goes nothing.
“And as to what I’m ‘into’…I’m into you.”
Wow, hey. That had been pretty smooth. Could have even made it all the way to romantic, if he’d left it at that and just kissed the damn guy, but of course he didn’t.
“I mean, I’m into lots of guys. Well, not lots of guys, but a few. A normal amount.. Well, a normal amount for a…a guy like me. Well, a guy like me who doesn’t do the club thing. A guy like – I’m gay. Not just when I’m drunk. All the time. Gay. But I do-“
Max kissed him.
There’s a strong support cast in the story – Christian’s Aunt Beverly and her friend, the shop girls (bitches!), Christian and Max’s flatmates and some assorted random customers. Christian had his secrets, Max had secrets and there’s a perfect set up for the subsequent books which I am looking forward to reading.
Wallflower by Heidi Belleau
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This gamer geek has a lacy little secret.
Art student and MMORPG addict Robert Ng has always been a loner, but he’s recently made it his goal to make more (IRL) friends. Which is how he winds up working nights at Rear Entrance Video, shilling sketchy porn and blowup dolls as a favor to his roommate. The longer he works there, though, the more he realizes he’ll never be truly happy until he becomes the person he is online: his female persona, Bobby.
Bobby is cuter and funnier than Rob is, and a thousand times more popular with boys. Becoming Bobby IRL presents its own set of challenges, though . . . especially when you’re sitting on the fence between two genders, only one of which has caught the attention of your seriously cute customer/classmate.
Dylan Ford is a six-foot Inuit comic book artist who always says what’s on his mind, and screw anyone who doesn’t like it. As rough as he appears, though, Dylan has a soft spot for Rob. But will out-and-proud Dylan still want Rob if he’s not all man?
So what did I think?
I’m going to be honest (not that I’m not usually!)…..I wouldn’t have chosen to read this book based on the blurb alone. I’m not overly attracted to stories of geeky gamers and Rob’s ‘lacy little secret’ made me nervous. This book ended up on my Kindle purely because I had read book one in the series, Apple Polisher, and have an almost obsessive compulsion to complete reading any series I start. In this case, I am really thankful for this because I enjoyed the book.
Heidi Belleau provided a fascinating insight into a character with major internal conflict exacerbated by a low sense of self-worth.
“Whatever little fantasies Rob had about alternate realities, in this world, men were men and women were women, whether you were born that way or you had a sex-change or whatever, that part didn’t matter. What mattered was that you couldn’t be both.”
“And besides, Rob wasn’t a girl. Wasn’t born one, not physically and not even on the inside. He just liked….playing one. Dressing up as one.”
The strength of the story lay in how Rob dealt with this own feelings, how he grew as a person, from the shy and introverted young man with low esteem, to the much stronger man, able to acknowledge his true self. The support and understanding provided by his boyfriend Dylan was wonderful and I enjoyed this character’s own conflict with the situation. How does a gay man who is attracted to men start a relationship with a gay man who likes to dress as a woman?
Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This macho jock has a crooked little secret.
College hockey player Austin Puett is in trouble. Unless he starts treating his flamboyantly gay roommate with respect, he’ll lose his room and his job at Rear Entrance Video. But Austin’s got a not-so-straight secret of his own: nothing turns him on more than insults implying he’s gay—even though he’s definitely not!—and all his old coping methods have stopped working.
Pure desperation drives him to rent a Mischievous Pictures porn flick about straight men tricked into servicing Puck, a male dominant. Instead of letting off steam, though, it just leaves him craving more, more, more, and suddenly, Austin finds himself at Mischievous Pictures Studios for an audition. After all, you can be Gay For Pay and still be straight . . . right?
But meeting Liam Williams, the real person behind Puck, confuses Austin even more. Liam really seems to like him as a person, and Austin likes him back. And while Gay For Pay’s okay, what does it make Austin if he still wants Liam when the cameras aren’t rolling?
So what did I think?
Well, that was unexpected. Although maybe I should have expected it given the previous two books and their unique characters and situations.
First off, I loved the cover. Hockey – yes! I’m an Australian and know next to nothing abuot the game but there is something so hot and sexy about those men on the ice! Porn star – who doesn’t like a story about a porn star?
From the title and blurb, I was expected a nice story about Austin struggling with his attraction to a man. But this isn’t the story I got. This is a story about Austin’s bone deep desire to be dominated by Liam/Puck, his total submission. He is all about the kink and Austin’s kink is humiliation.
“This time, when Austin moaned, there was nothing miserable about it. Fag. He loved and hated that word. Hated being insulted, hated being thought of as less of a man. Hated his uncontrollable reaction, that sharp feeling of arousal he felt every time he heard it used against him.
Loved that for the first time in his life, he didn’t have to hide how much it affected him. The way it made him hot and hard and needy, even as he despised himself. Despised being like this.”
This was a very satisfying end to the series.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in return for my honest review.
To find out more about Heidi Belleau and her books visit her website.
Buy the books from Amazon.