Reviewed by Katinka C.
AUTHOR: Anah Crow
PUBLISHER: Torquere Press
LENGTH: 222 pages
BLURB: Rase Illion is a middle-aged captain of industry, a restrained man with a spotless reputation just emerging from the shadow of his vicious, driven father. Since his father’s death, Rase has been living like the old man was still alive, keeping up appearances with his trophy wife and appropriately luxurious house. Which is when Rase meets Gabriel.
Gabriel loses his temper during his first meeting with Rase and lashes out, which unleashes Rase’s carefully hidden submissive and masochistic tendencies. His encounter with Gabriel snaps Rase out of his sleepwalking life, and he sets about remaking his world in his own way. Rase isn’t the only one shaken by their encounter, though. Can he convince Gabriel to give their relationship a chance?
Fuck yeah! I don’t know about you, but Uneven didn’t just tick a few of my boxes, it KNOCKED THEM RIGHT OVER.
Enter Rase, a middle-aged captain of industry. A man who oozes power and is immaculately dressed. A man who has the trophy wife, the mansion, and makes people wait just because he can. I suppose he could be your boss? Then one day he walks by when his security team has a young man, who triggered the metal detectors, up against the wall. It’s one of his many nameless employees, a stockboy, who forgot to leave his pair of handcuffs at home. Rase decides that the young man can pick them up at the end of his workday. And he does, but before Rase realizes what’s happening, he’s cuffed. And his “lowly” employee holds the key.
Please, please let me share a few sentences from Uneven with you. I chopped things up a bit, but think it will give you a fairly good impression of the dynamics between these men.
His mouth was dry, and the ice in his Scotch rang against the crystal like mocking bells. His hand was shaking. Ever so carefully, he reached across himself to set the glass down on the blotter. “I hope you have the key,” Rase said.(…) “Always.” The emptiness in the man’s expression almost brought Rase to despair. Rase held out his free hand, palm up, waiting for the key. “Glad you know what you’re doing.” (…)
“I know what I’m doing.” The stockboy still had a grip on the chain between the cuffs. “That makes one of us.”
“I appreciate the demonstration.” Out of nowhere, Rase’s voice came back and brought with it the rush of anger he’d been waiting for. (…) “It has been very educational. Now, I’d appreciate if you let me go.”
“As you wish.”(…)
“Thank you, Rase said. He rubbed lightly at his wrists once the cuffs were off. “So”, he said, reaching for his Scotch again. “Do I owe you anything for that?” The entire world shifted, and it took Rase a moment to realize that he’d been hit. His mouth tasted like blood.
Can a stockboy, Gabriel, who could have been his son, bring a man who takes over companies worldwide in the blink of an eye, to his knees? THIS alone is so incredibly compelling. Simply because, let’s face it, it’s usually the other way around. I don’t know how many books you’ve read about strong, older men who dominate young, pretty boys, but I’ve read quite a few of those! Maybe The Violet and the Tom comes closest in terms of the (misleading) power-imbalance and mutual needs.
Thank god this is not your average BDSM book! I’m sure not everyone will appreciate Uneven. Perhaps some will find it unsettling. Personally, I don’t enjoy books in which the main characters play by the rules, wisely and coolly discuss hard limits and safewords and respect the restrictions of the game. Uneven is about two men and lust and need so raw, that it blasts out everything that should have mattered.
The sex scenes are therefore intense and balance on the edge of sanity, and perhaps tip over that edge into something undeniably dangerous… that I didn’t want to stop. And neither did Rase and the beautiful Gabriel. Their kisses are desperate, teeth are tearing into lips, drawing blood. The boy hits just a little too hard, barely able to contain his own frustrations, his demons. There are bruises, more delicious, metallic tasting blood and almost nauseating pain. But when Gabriel licks his bloody fingers clean, Rase still can’t help but stare, hypnotized and on the verge of coming from the sight of it.
That being said, you don’t have to be afraid that these two take things uncomfortably far (at least not in my eyes). There is no self-destruction, no downward spirals or terrible angst. Actually, Uneven has its unexpectedly sweet moments! Since both Rase and Gabriel struggle with personal problems, self-acceptance and their feelings for each other, there are quite a few tender, emotional moments involved.
“I never met anyone as naked as you.” Gabriel rounded on him, half-furious and half-despairing. “I never met anyone I believed the way I believed you wanted me, wanted what we did.” He was back in front of Rase in two strides; he reached out and grabbed a handful of Rase’s hair, wrenching Rase’s head back and staring down at him. “I fucked you over and you took it like you couldn’t get enough.”
The hotness of Uneven almost eclipses its flaws, but I will mention a few things to help you know what to expect, and what not. The writing leaves something to be desired. There’s simply too much moaning, whining and whimpering going on. When particular words are used so often that I not only start noticing a trend, but also unconsciously begin to count, I think there’s room for improvement. Uneven also suffers from the no-pronoun disease (see quote above for a small example). Which isn’t too problematic, but could easily have been avoided.
Other than that, and I realize that this is probably a personal pet peeve; what’s up with the many solo sex scenes? They are dirty, raunchy even and they absolutely bored me senseless. It’s the dynamics between Gabriel and Rase that left me breathless, I couldn’t care less about Rase jerking himself off. I wanted more banter, more danger, MORE one on one time instead!
In general, I’m intrigued by how authors deal with safe sex in the M/M genre. Nowadays, making a point of using condoms seems to be obligatory. Dare I say that in a book like Uneven, condoms have no business? These men play it dark and dirty and actually have unsafe sex during their first encounter. Then why, I wonder, does the author suddenly include condoms during their second tête-à-tête? Besides the fact that it might be just a little too late at that point, it takes me out of the story when it comes to this type of book. I think readers know they shouldn’t try out most of the things these men do for fun. When it comes to safe sex, I’m sure they are able to make the distinction between books and real life. But hey, I could be wrong?
Katinka C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
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