The Taste of Ink, by Francis Gideon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Day: March 11, 2016
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Trevor Dunn has never gone to the Calgary Stampede, in spite of living in the city all his life. He would much rather listen to music and draw comics in his basement than hang out with a bunch of cowboys. When his sister drags him to the Stampede’s opening parade anyway, Trevor is drawn to a cowboy sporting a green hat.
Charlie opens Trevor’s mind to the world of country music and country boys. But then an old flame appears in the middle of the festival and Trevor is torn. He adores Charlie, but Mathieu—a punk singer turned acoustic crooner—was Trevor’s first love, and Trevor lost him by being too afraid to chase the dreams they shared.
When the Stampede ends, Charlie will go back to Toronto, Mathieu will go back on tour, and Trevor will go back to his basement. Realizing that’s not what he wants, Trevor enters a mechanical bull-riding contest in hopes of winning the heart of his true love—or maybe both of them. This time, fear won’t stop him from going after what he wants.
Coming of Age
Age Difference (May/December)
Art and Music
This book was admittedly not what I was expecting, although I’ll take part of the blame for having not read the summary in full. But while the publisher does tag on their website for an M/M/M relationship, I wasn’t at all prepared for a significant age difference between two of the characters.
I’m stressing that in the review because it really threw me off when I was reading. At first I thought Trevor and Charlie were similar ages, but when Charlie suddenly revealed how much older he was (almost 15 years) it suddenly gave the novel a completely different tone. Instead of a story about two young men coming together for a short period of time, it suddenly became… almost sinister to me. Charlie influencing a younger man, changing the way he acts and the things he wears and likes, throwing money around.
I was suddenly very uncomfortable with the relationship. And normally I don’t mind stories with huge age differences, but Charlie and Trevor did not feel like an equal pairing; Charlie held all the power, and he slowly changed who Trevor was as a person.
I was also uncomfortable with Charlie himself. He’s wealthy enough to play sugar daddy for a week, has a porn-star dick (“… you’re like– what? Nine, ten inches?”), and I felt like he completely overroad Trevor as a character.
I did adore Trevor, the sweet emo boy who loves drawing comics and is obsessed with The Used in a way that reminded me of my own early-20s. I loved his character. I like young people who are struggling to find their way, and the next generation who deal with daily reminders of “not being good enough”. But… his personality vanished around whoever he was sleeping with.
Right from that first night, nothing he did was really his own idea anymore. Not even down to his new favorite drink, which Mathieu always gave to him each time they hung out after a show.
Because of the discomforting dynamics of Trevor and Charlie’s relationship, I struggled to accept Mathieu’s addition. Here was a character that I already struggled to like from flashbacks, and suddenly Charlie’s lust for another young man and Trevor’s not-over-you reminiscing brought them together?
I wish this had been about Trevor and Mathieu, and that Charlie had been a simple distraction in the middle. I would have enjoyed it a lot more without Charlie essentially polluting the plot and the other personalities.
Francis is the author of several novels and novellas that show a wide variety of relationships and people, including transgender men, menage pairings, and asexual couples.
Francis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante. He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee.
You can find Francis on his website at https://francisgideon.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter.
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.