Book Review: Lay It Down, by Mary Calmes (DNF)


Lay It Down, by Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 16, 2016

Rating: DNF @ 62%

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calmes-lay-it-downParadise can be hell.

Most people would say being stranded in the villa of Spanish shipping magnate Miguel García Arquero on the beautiful isle of Ibiza wasn’t such a bad deal. But Hudson Barber isn’t one of them. To him, being stuck without a passport in a foreign country far from home is a nightmare, made worse by the fact that the person who did the stranding was his flighty twin brother.

Unwilling to turn Dalvon in for identity theft, Hudson is forced to wait, but meanwhile he discovers the chance to rehabilitate Miguel’s failing local businesses—enterprises left to Dalvon’s inexperienced care. The flagging ventures are a badly wrapped gift from heaven, and if Hudson can turn them around, he might be able to leverage the experience to finish his MBA.

Then Miguel returns to Ibiza, and instead of finding a boy toy, he discovers Hudson has turned his cold villa into a warm, welcoming home. Miguel’s path is clear: convince Hudson to lay down his defenses and let love in.


Gay Characters
M/M Pairing
Alpha Male
Assumed Identity


It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Mary Calmes novel, and I’ve had mixed opinions in the past. I read and enjoyed Romanus, but had to DNF her Matter of Time series and some of her stand-alone novels. Unfortunately, I had to DNF Lay it Down as well for many of the same reasons.

This book started out as a really fun read. In fact, I was fully immersed in it for the first half. It was a mindless “beach read”: a bit ridiculous, and the MC, Hudson, is a bit too perfect and brilliant, but still very enjoyable.

Hudson is shown to be the complete opposite of his twin brother. While Dalvon is model-gorgeous, he’s also vapid and flighty. I was confused by Hud’s characterizations of him; he was described as being the perfect trophy husband, but also “a doormat”. Not super flattering?

But Hud is better than that. He’s smart. He has business savvy. He’s selfless, in that he allows Dalvon to run off with his passport and strand him in Spain so Dal can hook up with Hud’s ex-boyfriend.

Wait, what?!

Yeah, like I said. Mindless read. Like a soap opera.

But then Miguel enters the book. He’s away on business for the first 35%, leaving Dal to run off on him and Hud to slip in and take over competently and completely. Only once Miguel reappears… Hud starts to vanish.

Not literally. I mean Hud’s character vanishes. Suddenly he’s mindless, “struck by a Mack truck with lust“. His fierce independence vanishes, his I-don’t-need-a-man attitude flies out the window.

It wasn’t like me. That was never me.

Yeah, even he realizes that his character is being shredded by an author who finds alphahole males to be more important than actual characterization and plot.

I made it to 62%. And then I read this in the middle of a sex scene and immediately closed out of the book:

“You will do as I please,” he growled. “Whenever I please!

I would, there was no question. He could have me at his leisure with a snap of his fingers.


I like reading alpha males who take charge. This was not that. This was that other thing: the alphahole. The asshole alpha who doesn’t care about “no” because it secretly means “yes”. The guy who’s just too good looking, too sexy to be denied anything.

Having a guy, literally mid-sex scene, growl about how he basically owns this other man? Making him “lay everything down and surrender“, as though the smart and competent Hud is unnecessary when a hot cock is nearby?

Nope. I’m out.


Mary Calmes is best known for the Matter of Time series, and the Change of Heart series. She writes M/M and has several novels and novellas available.

You can find her on her website at or on her blog at

You can buy Lay It Down from the Publisher.

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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