Afflicted by Brandon Shire

Title:  Afflicted

Author:  Brandon Shire

Genre:   Contemporary

Length:  133 pages

Publisher:  TPG Books (September 5th 2012)

Heat Level:  Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥2 1/2Hearts

Blurb:  A high-priced male escort and a blind gay man meet by chance. What ensues is a hot, steamy romance by two men looking for something more than a one night stand. But can they reach beyond their own insecurities to grasp what they really desire?

Meet Hunter Stephens. He’s gay, tall, dark-haired, and he’s hot. Very hot. But he doesn’t rely on the visual cues when appraising a man because he’s also blind. He listens to the timbre of their voice, trembles at the touch of their skin, and luxuriates in the deep richness of the aroma of man. He’s hard of the hand because he’s a black belt and takes no shit, but soft of the heart because he’s lonely and has been for a while.

Until he meets Dillon.

Dillon Chambers is straight man candy. He’s a high-priced male escort that works with an exclusive agency who handles only the wealthiest of clients. But it wasn’t always like that for him. At sixteen he was thrown out of the house for being gay and struggled to survive, turning tricks on the street and finding food and a place to sleep wherever he could. He met two people who changed his life, but he has never met anyone who could change his heart.

Until he bumped into Hunter.

And now they are both Afflicted.

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Reviewer:   Any

Review:  Afflicted.

So am I.

I was really hoping to love this story, I’d heard so many good things, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Initially, I was excited, because this story is partly written from the point of view of a blind man (Hunter)—and I was super curious how it would be written to “show” and integrate the reader into a scene. And to give credit where it’s due, the writing and descriptions in this story are wonderful. I really did get a sense of character and place through the senses of smell, sound, taste and touch.

It was a pity that while the narrative and the writing was solid, the story itself lacked tension. Yes, there was a bit of conflict between characters both internal and external, but I couldn’t care enough about it because I didn’t feel what was at stake, and I never got invested in the characters journeys.

Also, where I thought there might be more conflict, like when Dillon tells Ronald he wants out of the escorting business, it fizzles into a low temperature scene where it’s agreement all around.

Regarding sex scenes. At first, it was hot—at least the lead up, but I was put off (and this may be a personal thing) by the fact they didn’t use protection. Hunter and Dillon barely knew each other—added to that; Dillon is in the escort business—and not a condom in sight.

This might be a forgiving point in the story if I didn’t get such a sense of contradiction. Shawn, someone who was close to Dillon, had watched his closest friends die off in the AIDS epidemic. I would have thought this would make Dillon particularly sensitive to using protection and safe sex.

And while I loved and think it’s fantastic that the author donates 10% of all his book sales to a couple of organizations that help get LGBT kids off the street, I felt nervous thinking of teenagers picking up this story and reading it with all the unprotected sex in here.

I want to end the review on a positive note. Brandon Shire’s writing—the descriptions, use of language, flow of sentences, and variation of imagery—is really quite brilliant. I’ll be interested to read some of his future works.


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