Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Strawberries and the Beast

Strawberries and the Beast by April Moone
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 190pages
3 out of 5

Reckless, flamboyant Keigo is bisexual. Blunt, aloof Masaki is straight. Their conflicting personalities make them unlikely friends, but after some careful maneuvering on Keigo’s part and one strawberry-flavored kiss, Masaki gives more of himself to Keigo than he ever thought possible. More than he’s willing to share with his girlfriend. But Masaki’s fear of commitment threatens to shake their rocky relationship to pieces.

Keigo’s new feelings for Masaki are confusing enough even before his on-again, off-again lover, Kaname, blows back into town. Kaname is a manipulative beast, demanding Keigo’s undying fidelity in return for his cruelty, and Keigo’s fragile relationship with Masaki cracks under the weight of his presence. If Keigo really wants to build a life with Masaki, he’ll have to discover the strength to free himself of Kaname and convince Masaki to be with him forever.

I am a huge fan of yaoi (broken record). It’s something I read often so I know the similarities of plot lines that can be found in each one. I know that when writing yaoi, some authors try to make it their own because it can become quite repetitive and predictable. This book falls under both those categories. There is a strong part of me conditioned to love it on the yaoi way alone, but this was a novel and I just wanted more. It was like reading a schoolboy yaoi manga and I find that I don’t enjoy it as much in a published novel.

Masaki is the loner, the guy that nobody messes with and wants to become friends with. He’s irritable with a bad temper and constantly gets into fights. While having lunch on the roof, Keigo invades his space begins to chatter and over time the two become friend (somewhat). So one day while sharing lunch on the roof Keigo kisses Masaki, and their relationship escalates into something more. Masaki is the straight man with a girlfriend and Keigo is bi-sexual and carries strong feelings for Masaki.

What happens next, any fan of yaoi would be able to tell you. They have sex, Masaki doesn’t hate having sex with Keigo but he is straight and sticking to that orientation. Keigo feelings goes beyond sex and feels that Masaki won’t be able to reciprocate. Just when things are going smoothly in comes the bad ex-boyfriend of Keigo from years past. He is a sadistic and an abusive bastard with a hold over Keigo’s feelings and gets off on torturing him. I think this is where my feelings for the book started to change.

I began to guess every situation from that point on. As a joke I said to a friend of mine who is an avid yaoi reader ‘that all I am waiting on is for one of the characters to go back to their hometown. Get taken care of by an elderly neighbour and be fed watermelon’. Lets just say I was wrong about the watermelon. It just felt like the author read some yaoi mangas and went with writing this story from there. Its hard to distinguish this one from the rest.

I don’t completely dislike the book. The writing is good and the characters are likeable to a certain point. Its just that everything else felt too simplistic and safe. I wanted it to go further and away from all the stereotypes that can be found soemtimes in yaoi. 

SideNote- Love that cover, so very pretty! 

3 Pants Off

Go Ahead Take Those Pants Off

Strawberries and the Beast was provided by and Dreamspinner Press

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