ARC Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Cutie Pies by Barbara Bell


38331124Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: March 19, 2018
Received From: NetGalley

Joey works at Cutie Pies, the smallest adult store in Sydney. After his parents kicked him out years ago, the haphazard shop became his home away from home and is the only place where he can embrace his queer, quirky, and—okay—sometimes a little awkward self.

When Mick, a new-to-town customer, walks in asking for a dildo, Joey thinks it’s all a part of the day’s work. Except Mick’s large dark eyes, shy smile, and kissable lips—along with the ten-inch dildo he bought—quickly win him a starring role in Joey’s nightly fantasies.

Joey can’t stop thinking about him, and Mick’s continued visits to the store make him even harder to forget. Mick is shy and sweet, but also secretive and uncertain. As the two grow closer together, Joey starts to wonder what Mick really wants from him, and whether he can risk falling in love with someone who might not be free to love him back.


GENDER: cisgender
SEXUALITY: homosexual


TAGS: new adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, interracial romance, Aboriginal/Indigenous love interest, POC character / love interest
WARNINGS: emotional abuse, catfishing, homomisia, cissexism / transmisia, ableism, homomisic family, cheating


This story was really cute overall, but there were some aspects of it that prevented me from giving it a higher rating.

But first, a few things I liked. Both the main character and love interest were super adorable. I liked their dynamic and how they seemed to click right away. Also, I enjoyed the friendship between Joey and Becca, his best friend and coworker. They definitely seemed like they could be siblings with the way they looked out for each other but also squabble like a couple of children. Finally, I liked getting some insight into some Australian culture and that the love interest is Aboriginal.

Now, for the things I didn’t like, which affected the overall rating.

I did not like the fact that Joey “found out” Mick is gay because Mick apparently gives blowjobs. This is an incredibly binary assumption (Mick could be bi, pan, or any other number of sexualities), and it’s really transmisic/transphobic. Genitalia does not equate to gender, so the fact that Mick gives blowjobs means nothing in the grand scheme of things. And this mindset is brought up quite a few times throughout the novel, so I really would not recommend trans people read this, because it’s really jarring.

Also, I did not like how vague everything was the first time Joey and Mick hook up. At that point, Mick is known to be in a relationship, and when Joey asks about his boyfriend, Mick just says, “He doesn’t care.” Okay. But what does that mean? Are they in an open relationship? Do they have an arrangement where they can hook up with other people while they’re long distance? The parameters of the relationship are really unclear and is sort of implied to be cheating. It’s a little bit later that we find out the real situation, and that Mick and his boyfriend are technically(???), probably(?????????) broken up.

Anyway, like I mentioned, the story was cute, and I liked all the characters, but I couldn’t give it a higher rating.


Truelove_Headshot_smallBarbara Bell grew up on a sheep farm in rural Australia, moved to Brisbane when she was nineteen to study film, and now lives in Sydney with an ever changing cast of housemates and a colony of bees.

She is an avid traveller, a proud geek, and loves telling stories about human relationships and how strange and silly (but also beautiful) they can be. She began writing when she was eleven years old and believes it’s probably too late to break the habit now.


Riptide Publishing
Amazon (to be updated)


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