Guest Reviewed by Morgan
Title: Raising the Rent
Author: J.L. Merrow
Heroes: Dr. Edward “Stephen” Pearson and Nathan
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 98 Pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Available at: Samhain Publishing
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: “Rent boy rule number one: Never fall in love with a customer.”
Life as a rent boy is not a long-term career goal for Nathan, who’s determined to get an education. But when he turns up for his first day at college he’s horrified to find his English teacher is one of his regular customers: Stephen, the one Nathan dubbed The Voice for his educated, honeyed tones.
Stephen’s just as shocked to see Nathan sitting in his class, not to mention terrified he’s about to be exposed as having paid for sex with a student which would mean public humiliation and maybe the loss of his job. Yet it’s clear Nathan is only interested in getting his A Levels, not in blackmail. And Stephen realizes there’s more to the nineteen-year-old than meets the eye.
Nathan still has to earn a living, though, and when a customer turns ugly, he finds himself homeless and unable to work. Stephen steps in to help, and Nathan starts to think they could have a future together if Stephen’s guilt and lack of trust don’t end their back-to-front romance before it starts.
This book has been previously published.
Warning: Contains unfashionable haircuts, unreasonably long words, and a May-December romance between a not-so-streetwise rent boy and an erudite English teacher.”
Nathan is a rent boy, going back to school to finish his A levels so he can one day apply to college and hopefully be a librarian – of all things! He has a regular “punter” who he first dubs “Tall, Dark and Ugly” because he is so lacking in fashion sense, but later changes his nick-name to the Voice, because his voice is so deep and erotic.
Stephen and Nathan only exchange blowjobs in the professional sense, but with each interaction, their attraction to one another grows, until one day, Nathan realizes his English A level professor is no one else but Stephen.
At first, Stephen thinks Nathan will try to blackmail him, but it soon becomes clear that Nathan just wants to improve his life and not cause any harm. Things go well, both essentially ignoring the other, until Nathan gets beat up one night by a “punter” he refuses while waiting for Stephen.
Stephen offers to help Nathan out while he heals, and the two grow ever closer. Neither is sure where the other stands: Is Nathan just grateful for Stephen’s help? Is Stephen just feeling guilty over his role in Nathan’s beating? Can Stephen really be attracted to a rent boy? Can Nathan really be attracted to an older, stuffy professor or is he using him for money?
In the end they figure things out and we get a solid HFN that is very satisfying.
One of the things I love about JL Merrow’s books is her complete “Britishness”. This is not an American book, and she doesn’t make it one. All the colloquialisms are British and “totally fab”! Of course, anyone who reads English can appreciate her stories, because they hit you right in the heart, but if you have familiarity with British life, it is that much more rich an experience.
Nathan is a sweet guy, real, sincere, and really trying to make himself a better person. Stephen has been “once bitten, twice shy” and is quiet and tentative to get involved in any relationship. Together, they find something in the other that fills the empty spaces, and it’s a sweet, sometimes sarcastic, very dry-British-humor love story that will make you smile.
I highly recommend it, and give it 4.5 of 5 stars, only deducting because I would have liked to see more of the pair as a couple, rather than leaving them just when they have gotten together.
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*