Book Review – Christina E. Pilz “Fagin’s Boy”

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First, I must confess to putting off reading Fagin’s Boy, which I downloaded for free from Amazon several weeks ago, because I read a lot of historical literature like Dickens, George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte, and I was really worried that this book would not live up to my expectations of it. I’ve always loved the story of Oliver Twist and the movie musical as well. But the idea of a follow up story wherein Oliver and Jack (the Artful Dodger) grow up and fall in love made me giddy with excitement. But I was nervous about the writing.

When I finally began this story and immediately found myself transported back to Victorian London with all its period charm as well as its grime, brutality and criminal underbelly, I was thrilled.

I usually like my gay romance reads to be fast-moving, full of sexual tension and graphically described intimate scenes. This story read more like a literary novel with a leisurely plot and much introspection on the part of the central character (Oliver) which was absolutely fine because the quality of the writing and the author’s attention to period detail supported that. Indeed, I found myself entranced by her vivid descriptions of life in middle class London, then later by the squalid lifestyles of the lower classes.

Pilz does a wonderful job of navigating the subtle dance between two men who share an unstated obsession with each other but don’t fully understand where that obsession comes from or to where it might lead. When it gets there, her handling of Jack and Oliver’s acknowledgment of their physical attraction to each other is beautiful to behold and hotter than Hades.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical romances with strong, vividly depicted characters and setting and an undeniable passion between two people struggling to survive and thrive in a harsh and unforgiving world.

There are five more stories in this series and I look forward to enjoying each and every one of them, the next being Oliver and Jack: At Lodgings in Lyme.

Thank you to Christina E. Pilz for permitting me to combine my love for historic literature with my fondness for gay romance in her painstakingly researched and beautifully written series.

Movie Review – “Call Me By Your Name”

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*Contains spoilers*

I have watched this film three times now, and it gets better at each viewing.

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is a feast for the senses – an erotic buffet filled to the brim with symbolism, intellect and culture.

But most of all, innocence.

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Call Me By Your Name is the story of 17 year-old Elio’s sudden infatuation with 24 year-old graduate student, Oliver, one of a succession of yearly summer visitors brought to the beautiful Italian villa by his father to help with paperwork and for the chosen student’s own intellectual and spiritual enrichment. It is based on the book of the same name by André Aciman, which I read before viewing the film. In this case, the movie exceeded the promise of the book – which in itself was wonderful – by immersing the viewer in the lush Italian summer that Aciman writes about and by selecting Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer as the two lead actors.

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Their chemistry is palpable from the moment they first meet through the tentative attempts at flirting and seduction, through to the final moments at the train station when Oliver has to leave. Chalamet was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. Somehow, he is able to show every emotion and thought that crosses Elio’s mind as he tries to figure Oliver out and decipher his own confusing feelings of attraction.

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This is one of the most mature films I’ve ever had the privilege to watch. It is a story in which sex is as natural as breathing, as wonderful a part of growing up as anything else, where nothing is shameful about embracing one’s desires and enjoying the fruit of life. The peaches that ripen in Anella’s orchard are as full of promise and as sweet as Elio. They are innocent but sensual in their own right, just like him.

As Elio and Oliver bicycle through the Italian countryside growing ever more aware of their mutual attraction, the viewer is treated to such a natural growth of love and longing that it becomes a part of the landscape.

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The house in which Elio lives and where Oliver stays for the summer is a character in itself. Like Elio’s parents, the ancient villa is always welcoming, doors open wide to the sunshine, balconies overlooking vast expanses of grass and trees. But there are hidden passages and secret rooms too, where only the most loyal companions are taken. Elio’s private escape above back of the kitchen, where he brings Marzia to wile away the hours until his tryst with Oliver, is also the room where he has intimate relations with a ripe peach and later cries in Oliver’s arms over the fact that Oliver must soon leave.

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This film is a celebration of summertime, first love, sexual exploration of all kinds — opposite sex, same sex, solitary sex with a peach — beauty and desire. It is also a celebration of how a parent can let their child become an adult by sitting back and letting that child explore the world on his/her own terms. By understanding that sexuality is a natural part of living and that putting barriers around who we’re allowed to fall in love with or engage with sexually is a losing game, and why would we want to play it anyway?

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But First, Coffee – Friday Flash Fic., Jan. 25

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The final shot I wanted to get was of the luxurious Master bathroom with the view out the sliding doors to the hardwood deck and the sliver of beach, the expanse of blue ocean stretching to infinity. It took about five tries to get that perfect shot.

“And, done.”

Mr. Yanofsky grinned. “I can’t wait to see them. When will the issue be out?”

I looked everywhere but at Mr. Yanofsky’s intense grey eyes, because I felt safer behind the camera. Safer from my own desires. “Uh, well, it’s the July issue, so probably beginning of June. But they’ll send you a copy earlier.”

Mr. Yanofsky nodded, his hands in the pockets of his snug beige board shorts. “Would you like a coffee? I’ve got a lovely dark roast from Venezuela…”

I fiddled with my camera, pretending to readjust some settings before I put it away. “Sure, yeah. I could use some coffee.” I smiled, letting my eyes meet his and seeing something very attractive there. In a spur of the moment move I lifted the camera and took a quick shot of him standing, looking at me.

“Sorry,” I blushed. “Couldn’t resist.”

He smiled, and yeah, there was definitely something there. “Come on.”

I followed him to the absurdly beautiful main room of his luxury beach house where he bade me make myself comfortable while he moved into the adjoining kitchen and began to prepare a pot of coffee.

“How long are you in Fiji, Mr. Stone?”

I looked over at him from my seat on his white leather sectional. “Hmm? Oh, I go back Friday. I’m shooting two other homes while I’m here.”

“Will you have time for sightseeing?”

I nodded. “I hope so.”

“If you like I could take you around some of my favourite spots.” Mr. Yanofsky’s voice held a tenor of insecurity, like he wasn’t sure of my answer.

I was, however, positive. “That would be great. Sure.”

Mr. Yanofsky finished in the kitchen and set the coffee to brew, then walked slowly over to where I was sitting. He stood directly in front of me, a little closer than two relative strangers would normally be comfortable.

“Well, then. It’s probably a good idea to be on a first name basis, don’t you think?” He smiled down at me.

I straightened my position on the sofa, finally letting my eyes drift down Mr. Yanofsky’s trim form and back up to his eyes, in which the invitation seemed plain as day now.

“Jameson,” I breathed, anticipation and arousal swirling inside.

“Kevin,” Mr. Yanofsky said in a soft tone that seemed to stroke over my skin. “Of course you’ve already seen my very favourite spot on the island.”

“I have?” I said, clearing my throat and trying not to stare.

Kevin nodded, a pink flush spreading across his cheeks. He laughed softly and sat down beside me. “Well, that would be my bedroom.” He reached out a hand and touched the back of my own. “Would you, maybe, like to see it again? No camera this time?”

I flipped my hand over so his fingertips grazed the sensitive skin of my palm, and said, “No camera.”

When he leaned in and kissed me with a polite, testing pressure that only teased of the future possibilities here, my body responded.

He pulled back and assessed me with satisfaction.

“But first, coffee.”

 

Personality – Monday Flash Fics, Jan. 22

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The most interesting person in the square was someone wearing a white cashmere coat over a dark red blouse with a floppy red bow at the neck. Perched on their head was a matching red fedora-like hat. I thought the outfit showed a lot of personality and a certain unwillingness to dress to convention.

The person had a closely trimmed beard and clutched a large brown handbag.

“Excuse me,” I said to them, after tapping them on the shoulder. “I’m a photographer from Ottawa. I love your outfit. Would I be able to take your picture?”

The person looked at me, surprised. But they nodded and gave me a guarded smile. “Sure.”

I thanked them and asked their name.

“Martha.”

I nodded, giving them a genuine smile. “Nice to meet you, Martha. I’m Carson.”

Martha nodded, still seeming wary.

“You’re fine right where you are, Martha. Just be yourself.”

At that, Martha laughed, seeming to let down their guard finally. “Oh, that is who I always am, I’m afraid. I can’t seem to help it!”

I took some shots of them, and smiled. “It shows. I really like your outfit.”

The wariness came back. “You’re not making fun of me, are you? Setting me up for some kind of joke?”

I lowered my camera and shook my head. “No, I’m not. I think you have more personality in your little finger than most of the people here. I wanted to capture it.”

They stared at me, and a small smile finally broke on their friendly face. “Thank you. It’s been a long time since someone gave me a compliment.”

“I’m sorry.”

They shrugged. “I guess my expectations of people have been lowered since I started dressing the way I want. Living the way I want.”

I looked at them with sympathy. “That’s a real shame.”

“Yes, it is. But thank you for renewing my hope in people.”

“Would you like me to send you a copy of the photos, Martha?”

“Yes, I’d love that!”

We exchanged contact info and parted with a warm handshake. I left the encounter with a lighter heart and some fantastic photos on my camera.

Science Fiction Double Feature – Friday Flash Fic., Jan. 19

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“Rocky, just sit back and enjoy the show,” Dr. Frank N. Furter suggested in his sensuously deep voice with a smirk of his luscious red lips. “It’s a science fiction double feature!” His pink tongue slid over those lips as he raised his eyebrows, clapping his manicured hands together. “My favourite!”

Rocky grunted, glancing at the man who had shocked him into consciousness just days ago.

Frank N. Furter was … well, he was something. Something Rocky was just starting to figure out.

Oh, he knew all about him physically. Frank had made sure of that, having created Rocky, he assumed, expressly for that purpose. And being new to the entire experience of living and fucking, Rocky had participated enthusiastically in that lesson.

Frank N. Furter was a gourmand in the excesses of the flesh. A veritable connoisseur of sexual pleasure. Nothing stood in the way of Frank getting what he needed or wanted but he was a seducer, not a cad. He made sure the objects of his affection were entirely willing participants in every delicious act of debauchment.

Something about him, something perhaps a bit otherworldly, convinced most people that Frank would enrich their experience and bring them home.

Rocky glued his eyes to the screen and tried to ignore what Frank’s hand was doing as it traced a path up his thigh to the very tight gold lamé trunks that had been given to him to wear. The movie was a classic B-Grade science fiction movie. Frank had explained the appeal of these movies to Rocky in vivid detail, and Rocky wanted to see for himself.

But he couldn’t help glancing down at Frank when the hand made it’s gentle way to…

“Oh Rocky!” Dr. Furter exclaimed when he reached his specific point of interest.

Rocky smiled down at the curly haired man in bustier, fish net stockings and high heels who appeared so very excited at the size of Rocky’s … endowments. Well, he’d been made to order, hadn’t he?

“You’re so … so … dominant! Such a perfect specimen of manhood! I’m so proud of you, Rocky.”

Rocky blushed, smiled and grunted again, this time with much pleasure and anticipation, the movie suddenly forgotten.

Wo oh oh oh oh,

At the late night, double feature, picture show…

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Tease – Monday Flash Fic., Jan. 15

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Are you in the building?

I glanced down at my phone. It had buzzed as I’d exited the elevator on Sam’s floor.

Grinning at his eagerness, I texted back: Down the hall. Be there soon.

My phone buzzed again.

Don’t come in.

I stopped in my tracks, confused. That was unexpected. What? Why?

Because I have something to show you.

Now I was completely confused, but I made my way to his door. The number 325 stared back at me from the antique wood as I awaited further instruction.

My phone buzzed again.

Look through the keyhole, Gordon.

My heartbeat increased exponentially. What was Sam playing at? I couldn’t wait to find out.

A restored historic building, the doors still had keyholes which I’d pointed out was kind of a violation of Sam’s privacy and a security hazard. He hadn’t really cared.

And when I crouched down to look through the tiny opening, I was glad.

I could see Sam, straight ahead in the armchair from the corner that he must have carefully positioned in direct sightline of the keyhole.

Fuck.

He was dressed in only a pair of tight boxer briefs that outlined his swollen prick, leaving nothing to the imagination.

I loosened my tie, wondering what kind of game he was playing.

My phone buzzed again. I didn’t want to look down, but I did:

Can you see me?

My thumbs fumbled my answer: Yes.

Watch.

My eyes flew back to the keyhole.

He stared right at me, knowing I was there. The shadow of dark stubble on his face followed the curve of his jaw and emphasized his cheekbones. He licked his full lips and brought his right hand to gently stroke the outline of his cock over the cotton of his boxers. His cellphone, resting on the arm of the chair, cast its soft blue light over him.

I shuddered, feeling like a pervert but loving every minute of this. Sweat had formed under the collar of my suit jacket. I glanced quickly to either side of me. Luckily, there was no-one else in the hall.

I tried not to let my breathing become too heavy but it was futile. Fumbling with my cellphone, I sent the following:

Take it out. I want to see it.

I watched as his phone became brighter and heard the small noise it made. He glanced down at it and laughed, glancing back at the keyhole where I was crouched, watching, waiting. Lifting his chin, he pursed his lips and sent me a kiss while he snaked his hand beneath his shorts and brought out the prize.

But he teased me even still, keeping his balls and the lower part of his cock covered, just showing me the leaking tip while he moved his hand back and forth, his thighs clenching with each stroke.

Christ, I was going crazy and my back had started to hurt. Plus I was sweating like a pig in my work clothes.

Ah hell. Please let me in. I texted.

This time he stood, peeled off his briefs and sat back down, lazily stroking himself and crooking a finger at me with his other hand before using it to type a new text:

It’s unlocked.

I let out a breath, not even realizing I’d been holding it, and cursed quietly.

Then I stood. But before I entered the room I texted him one more time. I wanted to make him wait now. You’re naked and jerking off with the door unlocked? What if some pervert gets in?

I waited a moment and was pleased when my phone buzzed quickly.

I’m counting on it. Get in here.

I couldn’t help the smile that spread over my face as I grabbed the handle and twisted.