TITLE: Straight Shooter (Rear Entrance Video, #3)
REVIEW: Like the previous two books in this series, Straight Shooter is written with a decided turn toward the comedic. The copy I read was an uncorrected proof provided for reviewers, so I couldn’t comment on the formatting of the finished product. I can say that Ms. Belleau has excellent technical skills along with a good sense of pacing and characterization.
In this final installment of the Rear Entrance Video series, we spend the entire time in Austin Puett’s head, which can at times be a fairly confusing – if not downright bizarre – place. Poor Austin, you see, is confused about pretty much everything in his life, except hockey. The one fixed star in his universe is his future as a professional hockey player.
At the start of the book, Austin has two goals – to repair his relationship with his roommates, especially with Bobby, who has been going through some intense life changes of his own (Wallflower), and to avoid getting kicked out of the room he rents in the house shared by the other characters from the Rear Entrance Video series. After some painful introspection, he comes to the conclusion that what he needs is to be taken in hand by Master Puck from Mischievous Pictures Studio. Austin, it seems, gets off on being humiliated and insulted.
This is something I’ve never understood – the longing to be cut down and humiliated – so for almost the first half of the book, I was immersed in a completely alien mindset. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to understand this troubled young man. At times I wasn’t sure I wanted to.
But as it turns out, that’s okay. I don’t want to only read books about people who are exactly like me. And somehow, Ms. Belleau managed to bring me along on Austin’s journey so that by the time he figured out what he needed, I was right there with him, cheering for his happy ending with Liam. That’s quite a gift. At no time did I feel like I was reading a preachy story that tried to shove an alternate lifestyle down my throat whether I wanted to know about it or not. In an oddly gentle journey that paralleled Austin’s own self-discovery, I gradually grew to understand exactly what these two men needed from each other. And I wanted them to make it.
So, for me, there’s something a little bit magical about this story. I’m very glad that I read it. I can’t help but feel that I’m somehow richer for the experience. It’s not high literature, by any means. The subject is one which other writers have treated in a brutal, gratuitous manner. What’s different about this book is that it makes a statement – literally – that, Gay, bi, queer, transgender, straight-with-exceptions . . . whatever, it’s all good. But it doesn’t just say those words, it demonstrates them. It lives and breathes them. Well done, Ms. Belleau.