Publisher: Rainbow Romance Press
Release Date: February 21, 2019
Received From: A Novel Take PR
Jasper is licking his wounds in paradise after being dumped, according to his ex, for someone more adventurous. The romantic Hawaiian getaway for two he booked hadn’t featured his sister as his plus one, but sometimes real life sucks.
For the two weeks he’s there his plans include hot dates with a sun lounger and working his way through the local craft beers. Nothing more.
Until he receives a sext from a wrong number. A mystery yoga instructor offering a private session to teach him the plow, and maybe even get plowed. Jasper’s never had a hookup with anyone before, but perhaps it’s time to prove his ex wrong.
One night with Tamal, no matter how hot it is, isn’t enough, yet that doesn’t change the fact this thing between them can’t last. Because time is running out. Jasper has to leave, has to return to London and real life.
SEXUALITY: homosexual, bisexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic, biromantic
TROPES: rebound romance, vacation romance, instalove
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, erotica, POC character, interracial relationship
WARNINGS: enby exclusionary language, anti-Native language/appropriative language (“Indian style”), ableism, slutshaming, racism, cancer mention, death mention, cheating mention
SALUTE TO THE STUD is a novella in which a recently single man goes to Hawaii, taking his sister with on the vacation he’d planned for himself and his partner, and while there, he meets a local who he hooks up with a couple times and arranges to meet up with when they’re both back in London.
In theory, this story has all the earmarks of a fun, vacation romp, but outside of that, it’s just not executed satisfactorily. The characters were flat–I didn’t feel like I got to know either of the main characters or the supporting cast very much at all. The plot was overly predictable, except for in the places where the author included scenes that weren’t really all that necessary, and the writing was pretty lackluster.
The main character Jasper was, frankly, all over the place in a way that made me completely disengage from him. When he gets the texts that are clearly meant for someone else, he eventually decides to take the person–Tamal, the other main character–up on the apparent offer of yoga as a precursor to sex. He decides to have this hookup before returning back to his real life and that it’s only that–a hookup. Complete with him sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night so he doesn’t have to deal with the awkwardness with Tamal in the morning. Yet, that next day, when he receives another text from Tamal that he perceives as the man trying to set up a hookup with someone else, Jasper flips out mentally and then verbally on Tamal later in the day. He goes on a whole rant about not wanting to be one of Tamal’s many, but if the hookup is just a hookup, then he has no claim on Tamal and no say in who he has sex with or how often. It was enough to immediately turn me off the romance and character, and since the story is so short, I never managed to reconnect. Especially when, despite insisting that Tamal isn’t a horrible person like his ex-boyfriend and is a super sweet guy, Jasper jumps to conclusions and assumptions simply because he doesn’t hear back from Tamal for a few days.
Which brings me to one aspect that seemed especially unnecessary–the death of Tamal’s grandfather. Since every chapter is from Jasper’s point of view until he leaves for London, we really no nothing at all about Tamal, and the sudden insertion of his grandfather’s illness is an unwelcome and unnecessary surprise, as it clearly only serves to cause drama between Jasper and Tamal. (Tamal forgets his phone at home and so doesn’t have it for a week as his grandfather is dying, which is why he doesn’t text Jasper back for a few days.) And while you experience the vague kind of sympathy that you tend to feel when you learn of the death of a relative of a friend’s friend, this death doesn’t have any kind of impact, nor does it make you connect with Tamal in any way. If the story was longer, or if there were alternating points of view throughout, it possibly would’ve been more effective, but with the way it currently stands, it just falls flat.
Also, it’s repeatedly mentioned that Tamal has brown skin, but it’s never clear what his ethnicity is. His family is from Hawaii, but are they Pasifika or Asian? Tamal is typically a name held by Middle Eastern or Black men, so does his ethnic background fall into one of those? We really don’t know, and it just makes it seem like he’s there to be a token brown person and to serve as a caricature of a holiday hookup with a local.
Anyway, while I didn’t hate this story, it just was a mess I was unable to connect with.
Beth Laycock’s books are influenced by her time living overseas as well as the gritty, urban landscape of the north of England where she grew up.
She has been reading romance since she was old enough to tell herself that line every book lover does—just one more chapter.
As a teenager she attempted to write her first novel, and many more since then that are still gathering dust on her bookshelf. It wasn’t until she discovered the M/M genre that her muse showed up and refused to quit telling her stories about beautiful men finding love together. She hasn’t stopped scribbling them down since. Beth’s muse usually shows up when she is in the shower, is allergic to cleaning, rarely lets Beth watch TV, and insists she drinks copious amounts of coffee so she can turn caffeine into words.
When not writing or reading Beth can be found procrastinating on social media or being dragged around the English countryside by her dog Freddie.
Beth loves to chat about books on social media or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org