Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Jake Tanner is a gay asexual man who finds peace on his small Australian farm and is content to lead a quiet life taking care of his animals. Then a random act of kindness on his part sets in motion a complex series of events that results in him playing the piano in a local pub and meeting Damien Jamieson, a sexy gay biker with a penchant for leather. Damien finds Jake instantly irresistible, but that could be the worst thing for their budding relationship, as Damien is determined to bed the reluctant Jake. However, Jake has no intention of going along with his plan. If there’s a chance for anything between them, Damien will have to figure out how to turn Jake on without scaring him off.
ACE was my first novel by Jack Byrne, non considering the story done for the A Taste of Honey anthology (still waiting for the sequel BTW!). I know he usually writes historicals and in fact his Bushrangers series is next on my reading. I picked up ACE because I was really curious about the asexual aspect, as last month I read another book on the same subject and really liked it.
I read ACE and soon loved it. It’s well written but most of all it’s real, emotional, sensitive and sexy too. I was caught up in Damien and Jake’s story from the start. The characters were well defined. Especially Damien, so sure of himself, he is sexy and wants Jake no matter the cost. He seems so strong but he hides a deep insecurity due to his young years spent on the streets taking care of himself and the person who become his daughter, Diane.
The story was unusual to me, starting just with the relationship between Diane and Damien, never met a 29 years old father of an (adopted) 24 years old. It was interesting look at their dynamics. Moreover, the relationship between Damien and Jake was strange too and I’m not talking about the asexual aspect. It was strange but absolutely believable because it felt real and possible. All the struggles, emotionally and physically, of two people so different from each other, still so needy and full of love to give. Two aspects, the physical and the emotional one, so fused together, seeing Damien so frustrated to not be able to be completely himself with Jake and use the sex as the only way to show his feelings, the only one he knows about. And it’s exactly when that way is barred that I found the realism in the story.
And where some people had some misunderstanding with the blurb, I can say that I didn’t find this strong feeling Damien has in wanting Jake as a constriction or a duty, just as something normal and real. I know, I’m saying the world real a lot, sorry.
Now about the asexual aspect, I could have a lot to say but I’ll keep it brief. I read the book when I still knew nothing about ace people, I wanted to see how the author dealt with it. The word “asexual” was at no time mentioned by the two MCs. The story is a discovery journey, one Jake is still working on. It’s a complex and well done story and later, when I went looking for more clarifications about a couple of things that seemed to be “unclear”, I discovered the author makes his stories this way.
I was pleasurably surprised by ACE and I’m going to read more by this author soon. I want to highly recommend it.
Cover art by Christy Caughie. The cover is clean and fits the story perfectly. I like it.
ebook, 210 pages
Published July 15th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English