Alexander Popescu is a university lecturer in a quiet German town. He’s a respectable man in his thirties who stays fit, has a decent career and travels alone—his only vice is an occasional greasy meal. And beer. And violent computer games. Nobody has to know about the other Alex—the acclaimed porn writer. His ingenious erotic fantasies earn him good money and keep his capricious mind harmlessly entertained.
When his young friend and protégé Christian transfers to Freiburg for medical school, Alex is overjoyed…and terrified that Christian will find out about Alex’s indecent alter ego. The time they spend together, as lovely as it is, could overturn Alex’s carefully balanced life. Suddenly, the writing is not good enough, his hair seems to be thinning, his careful hookups leave him unfulfilled, and his dreams are haunted by the innocent young man he’s vowed to protect.
However, Christian is not a boy anymore. He’s a grown man of twenty-one, clever and deadly attractive. And he’s hiding some secrets of his own.
A dazzling debut is almost a disadvantage for authors. Once expectations are set so high they can hardly be seen with the naked eye, it’s nearly impossible to outdo them. If you’ve read and were blown away with The Layover like I was, I am certain you will enjoy this second release from Horvat. Will it bump Ondro and Jamie from the front-runner? Probably not. Should that discourage you from reading this one? Absolutely not! I very much enjoyed my second helping from Horvat but you should be advised it’s very different from their debut.
Alex and Christian have a slow-footed pace and a lengthy courtship which allows us to really get to know them. This isn’t a snap, click, boom love affair, rather a gradual and rich romance. Alex is older and settled into his life when he meets Christian. He’s instantly drawn to the young man and finds himself slipping into a natural watchdog position. He becomes a guardian of sorts, lending guidance and protecting Chris’ virtue. Alex is a professor and Chris is a student but their relationship is long distance and strictly platonic…until it’s not. You see, Chris has slowly been falling in love with Alex and believes it’s reciprocated. He is exceedingly frustrated with the chastity belt Alex has placed on ‘them’ and decides to play hardball. The problem is, Alex has a secret. Alex is a professor by day and erotic author by night. How can he guard Christian’s innocence when his mind is anything but pure? Ooooo, let’s find out!
A simple and straightforward cast limits distractions and keeps the focus on Alex and Chris. I appreciated the small pool of secondary characters and found them all likable, even Chris’ overbearing mother. Chris’s uni friend, Dieter, was by far my favorite but Alex’s friend Mattias was captivating as well. I am curious about his story; perhaps Horvat has something planned for him and then we could check in on Alex and his squirrel? *wink wink* I also enjoyed the setting in Germany. Traveling with Roe is quickly becoming a favorite past-time of mine.
Horvat claims ‘the devil is in the details’ and I couldn’t agree more. As I continue to scrutinize my new-found fascination with this author, I marvel at their ability to transport me into the story. They filter the mundane scraps and replace them with vivid morsels of information producing vibrant scenes. The writing is exquisite. Rich and full-bodied words swirl into strong characters and then a sudden surge of emotions lift us away. Alex is our storyteller and it’s clear from the beginning he cares deeply for Christian. He yearns for the perfect man to sweep Chris off his feet. Turns out no one is good enough for the task. Well, maybe there is one man but facing his greatest fears prove to be daunting. Will he find the courage in time? Or neglect the opportunity to make his dreams a reality?
Slow burn. Frustrating delusions of self-worth. Near miss of opening eyes to a gift placed right in front of
Alex’s one’s face. And the immense gratification of…surrender.
I would love for everyone to become acquainted with the beauty and power of Horvat’s stories. If you’re not already, I believe this is a splendid place to start.