Dirty Mind, by Roe Horvat
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Alexander Popescu is a university lecturer in a quiet German town. He’s a respectable man in his thirties who stays fit, has a decent career and travels alone—his only vice is an occasional greasy meal. And beer. And violent computer games. Nobody has to know about the other Alex—the acclaimed porn writer. His ingenious erotic fantasies earn him good money and keep his capricious mind harmlessly entertained.
When his young friend and protégé Christian transfers to Freiburg for medical school, Alex is overjoyed…and terrified that Christian will find out about Alex’s indecent alter ego. The time they spend together, as lovely as it is, could overturn Alex’s carefully balanced life. Suddenly, the writing is not good enough, his hair seems to be thinning, his careful hookups leave him unfulfilled, and his dreams are haunted by the innocent young man he’s vowed to protect.
However, Christian is not a boy anymore. He’s a grown man of twenty-one, clever and deadly attractive. And he’s hiding some secrets of his own.
Friends to Lovers
Me and this book… To start with, I love an age gap, and I loved The Layover (Roe Horvat’s first book) and could not wait to get my hands on any and everything they’ve ever written.
Alex (in his 30s, a single professor and porn writer) meets an 18 year old Christian by chance at a gay club while on vacation. He swoops in and saves Chris, who is way out of his element after his friends leave him to basically fend for himself. The two form a mostly online friendship as Chris wraps up high school, initially goes off to college, and then decides to transfer his junior year to Freiburg for medical school.
There were things I really liked about this book. I liked how it appeared as though Chris was moving closer to Alex to try and change the dynamic of their relationship. Chris liked Alex and wanted to be seen as an equal. He doesn’t arrive in Freiburg and declare his love, or communicate any of this, which causes tension and a whole host of issues, but I felt it was true to life.
Alex… frustrated me to no end. Alex is so wrapped up in his own head he misses clues, distances himself, and fumbles a really important moment in Chris’s life, ultimately causing him to be hurt. All these things caused the book and the relationship to progress from something safe– a short of parental friendship– to what it needed to become.
But I didn’t love this as much as The Layover.
There were things that distracted me from the story. The first being the focus on Alex being a porn writer rather than a professor or just a writer. I didn’t really understand the… not guilt, but secrecy. Writing under a pen name I can understand, especially since he was a professor, but it also seemed to be a thing you could easily find out if you just asked around. Chris asks Alex… repeatedly it seems, and even points out how Alex knows really intimate things about Chris while sharing nothing intimate about himself. When it’s finally out of the bag it felt… anticlimactic. It seemed like it could have been the start of a conversation but Alex just… clammed up.
The other thing that kind of threw me out of the story was the mother. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say I did not want her as part of the story at all. I’m not sure if her over-bearing nature was supposed to impact my thoughts on Chris or not. I do think it set an odd peer dynamic between her and Alex… but the showing up later in the book seemed excessive. It also felt too soon. I would have rather spent more time with Chris and Alex as a couple.
Either way I’d recommend the book. I’m giving it 3.5 stars because it’s just my nature to compare an author’s books to other books I have loved more, and this didn’t reach the level of perfection I thought The Layover was. I’ll still be auto-buying (well this is KU but you know what I mean) Roe Horvat, so you should too.
Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. They love Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, and daiquiri, with equal passion. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.