Reviewed by: Diane
Print Length: 150 pages
Genre: Contemporary Gay Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Romantic Elements
Publisher: Wilde City Press (July 29, 2014)
Book Provided by: Publisher
Author: Edmond Manning
Posting Date: December 26, 2014
Let me say from the outset, I was, after only a few paragraphs, totally, inexplicably a**-over-teacups enamored of Edmond Manning’s sophisticated, intelligent and insightful writing style. This author has a keen eye for description that is both lush and spare, drawing us into a scene—be it setting up the outer landscape or fleshing out the inner man—in a way that left this reader breathless (and taking notes).
The set-up is fairly simply for this short novel: Keldon Thurman is conscripted to act as purchasing agent for serial killer art which, as these things go in today’s popular culture, has achieved a level of notoriety unjustified by the quality of the so-called art. Keldon doesn’t ask why he’s been hired or why that art and not some other. Why isn’t for a man living on the edge, a man without prospects, a man who had been successful only at manipulating his paramours, but not much else.
Keldon’s employer is a mysterious woman with apparently unlimited resources and her own reasons for wanting to secure all fifteen pieces of the executed killer’s doodlings. Much of the story revolves around Keldon’s rare ability to read people, but not just that … he has an innate sense of how to manipulate them into doing exactly what he wants. This facet of Keldon, and how the author takes us through his thought processes, running the what-if maze and coming out the other side intact, is fascinating. However, the devil is in the details and after acquisition number four, Keldon isn’t sure about where he stands on that shifting moral high ground.
The fifth time turns out to be a revelation: the marks—an elderly lady with a terminal illness and her trusted male nurse, Johsua—don’t buy Keldon’s offer or his explanations. They know a con when they see it. To bring them around to his way of thinking, and his employer’s, means Keldon has exactly two opportunities to convince Joshua the offer is genuine, albeit unconventional.
And so we begin the slow dance between Keldon and Joshua. Josh is a man living off-the-grid, trying to go green in that obsessive way some do when new to the lifestyle. Their first date is on Keldon’s turf—it’s a re-creation of his bad old days as a kept man with older patrons, but on his employer’s nickel. Date number two is on Josh’s home ground. In both cases, each man learns something new, about himself and about the other man, and the attraction begins to find firm footing despite their wildly different worldviews and life experiences.
Without giving away how it all plays out, rest assured there are reasons within reasons, mistakes are made by all involved, and the final resolution is quite satisfying. I won’t lie. I shed a tear.
A few little quibbles: Josh’s reaction to learning details of Keldon’s job seems a bit over the top. Personally, the project assigned to Keldon doesn’t offend me as much as it does the characters, but that’s personal choice. The second half of the book needed editing – words ran together, the frequency of typos increased. Most were easily skipped over, but if one is going to present such a well-written, elegantly worded book, then it behooves the publisher to provide the attention to detail this work deserves (so B- on editing).
This is a sweet romance. It’s slow to develop, somewhat staid, with both men hesitant, not because of major life traumas but more due to recognition that their life circumstances aren’t conducive to becoming involved. For those who read M/M for the flashy alphas and the love-at-first-sight trope, Filthy Acquisitions will give you a fresh perspective on how relationships can and do develop without the powerwash of lust and primal mating urges (not that lust is absent, rather it is tendered with restraint and caution, the way real people, in real situations, might react).
So, did I love it? Oh, I surely did. Will I read more of Edmond Manning? Yes, I will—for the intelligent use of the language, the caress of a well-turned phrase, and the sense of restraint and care and respect the author brings to storytelling.
The Book Description:
Keldon Thurman hates his job, purchasing serial killer art for a private investor. He would quit if he weren’t completely impoverished, but with no life skills and no ways to generate income, Keldon has no options.
However, Acquisition Number Five proves to be more challenging than expected. Wheel-chair bound Irene Woullet and her handsome nurse caretaker, Joshua Greene, refuse to cooperate. Keldon’s only chance is to seduce the old-fashioned, simple-living Josh in the hopes that Joshua can persuade Irene. But Keldon has to work fast—he has only two dates to win Josh’s affection.
With love’s potential in bloom, how can Keldon live with his own worsening conscience as he gathers these filthy acquisitions?
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