Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
Aidan and Liam’s new client is former gay porn star Freddie Venus, who survived an epic slide and now lives a solitary life in a restored farmhouse outside Nice. He hires bodyguards when he begins to believe he is being stalked.
Newt Camilleri is a sad, overweight fifty-year-old who writes gay unicorn porn but has no romantic life. He has fled his dead-end job and old life to start again on the Riviera. When he spots Freddie, his porn idol, in a grocery store, he kicks off the plot that will bring them together.
But Freddie’s past is about to come back to haunt him. Will Aidan and Liam be able to save Freddie, and help him and Newt start a new story together?
Finding Freddie Venus is the first book that I have read in Neil S. Plakcy’s long running Have Body, Will Guard series so I am coming into an already established relationship between bodyguards Adam and Liam. But as a newcomer to these characters, I don’t think that particularly hurts the story as Plakcy does a wonderful job in providing enough of their back history to support the relationship dynamics we see happening here, a couple at a crossroads at their partnership and wondering where to go next.
I was curious to see if I could repeat the success I’ve had with the same approach with Plakcy’s amazing Mahu series. With the Mahu series, I actually started at the end and have been working my way back towards the beginning and enjoying every bit of the journey. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can say that here but its definitely not due to the characters involved but the format of the story and the weird inclusion of a porn story within a story that jolts the reader out of the narrative. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Liam McCullough and Aidan Greene both work for Agence de Securite in France. They are partners romantically as well as partners as bodyguards for the Agency. It has worked well for them but Liam is growing tired, feeling his age with all the wear and tear the profession has left on his body and spirit. Aidan wants them to settle down and buy a home in France, giving them a permanence they have lacked up until now. And neither is exactly talking about the issues bothering them, preferring to ignore them and concentrate on their latest case…which manages to highlight all the insecurities and issues they are trying so hard not to address. The cause is their client, former porn star Freddie Venus. Turns out Aidan is a fan of porn and Freddie, Liam is neither. Throw in the fact that their sex life has been mostly absent recently and the stage is set for a few emotional explosions when they and their small dog move into Freddie’s house, all the better to guard him.
Freddie Venus is an interesting character, complicated and haunted by his past but still very much involved with porn because he can make a living working in editing porn scenes. But the cost to Freddie of his past in porn? A total lack of interest in sex and a lifestyle of hiding in the french countryside. Two things happen to bring an end to Freddy’s seclusion and promote a need for bodyguards. One…he receives a written threat. Two…he has a physical encounter with a fan/stalker that permanently changes Freddie’s outlook on sex and life.
And that brings us to the best/worst element of this story…Newt Camilleri. Newt is such an unusual character. He’s grossly overweight and an ex pat who has come to France to make his living writing M/M Romance. He’s already known for his series which involves a gay unicorn bent on vengeance against those that brutalize the LGBTQ community. Yes, he writes gay unicorn porn. Here is the description of Newt’s character and story from the book:
His most popular character was a half man, half unicorn named Fledglis. Like a centaur, he had a man’s head, arms, and torso over a horse’s body, with a spiral horn sticking out of his forehead. He was pure white except for dark hooves and a mane with all the colors of the rainbow in it.
His mission was to skewer every antigay government official—literally. When he found a homophobic mayor, sheriff, governor, or legislator, he’d use his front hooves to knock the man down. He’d strip the man naked, then pinion him to a floor or wall, his legs open and his ass exposed. Then Fledglis would turn his horn into a giant penis and fuck the man into oblivion. By the time the jerk awoke from his sex-induced stupor, his attitude would have taken a 180-degree turn.
How I wish Plakcy’s had left Newt’s writing to this description. Its pretty hilarious…in concept. Well, maybe not. Rape is never the laughfest no matter the cause. Anyway, this character and his stories are the driving force in Newt’s life and have inspired him to come to France. But now he’s gotten writer’s block and is running out of money. If he is to stay in France, Newt needs some inspiration and fast. But where to find it? You see, Newt’s physical attributes (such as they are) are vividly, almost anatomically correctly described down to the smallest roll of fat and size of his man boobs. Nothing is left to our imagination, thinning hair, lumbering walk, gasping for breathe,…yep…Newt’s one pathetic sack of flesh. The author makes Newt so outwardly repulsive that its hard to connect with him at first. But the inner Newt is different, so vulnerable, so needy that eventually a connection between him and the reader forms to bring us over to Newt’s side of things.
So far, so good. The story is moving concisely along, pulling the readers into the plot…until wham! Plakcy throws us into one of Newt’s stories involving Fledglis, the unicorn avenger. It’s not one or two lines of plot…nope its paragraphs of, in my opinion, god awful porn. And while my mind is shuddering over the antics of Fledglis, I’ve disconnected from the other characters and storylines at hand. Why remove the reader’s interest in the suspenseful nature of Freddie’s predicament and spend it all on some pornographic unicorn and his problems? I think it was to put us into Newt’s mindset but surely there was another way…like first person internal dialog? Time and again just when things are getting interesting, here comes clopping/flying horny Fledglis to get in our way.
I did like where the author took this story. I thought the various couples interesting in their differences and the events fascinating in the background layers and subject matter, even the mystery was suspenseful, if only a bit predictable. But that darn unicorn keep spoiling the flow and finally brought the rating down as well.
See, I think Mahu and Kimo have totally spoiled me. There the narratives are concise, the dialog is amazing, and the location is made believable and authentic by an in-depth knowledge of Hawaiian culture and history that makes that series one of my all time favorite contemporary series and characters. Because this series was written by Neil Plakcy, I will probably go looking into the first story to see how it all started. Hopefully, I won’t find any horny unicorns there.
Finding Freddie Venus by Neil S. Plakcy was ultimately a hot mess of a book, albeit a fascinating one. This author never fails to surprise me, and he certainly did that here. Would I recommend it? Yep, I would. It’s just too weird not to. But be warned, its different. And if you love that in a story and romance, pick it up and start reading it today.
Cover art by Ginny Glass. The cover works, especially the wing tats on the back of Freddie Venue. Great job.
Published March 31st 2015 by Loose Id
seriesHave Body, Will Guard #7
Books in the Have Body, Will Guard Series:
- Three Wrong Turns in the Desert (Have Body, Will Guard, #1)
- Dancing With The Tide (Have Body, Will Guard, #2)
- Teach Me Tonight (Have Body, Will Guard #3)
- Olives for the Stranger (Have Body, Will Guard #4)
- Under the Waterfall (Have Body, Will Guard, #5)
- The Noblest Vengeance (Have Body, Will Guard #6)
- Finding Freddie Venus (Have Body, Will Guard #7)