Elsie Street by Gabriella West
After refusing to kick out two men on a date, Dave is fired from his job as a bartender. His girlfriend Janine gets him a job as a museum security officer, but things don’t start off well. Dave’s new boss, Mike, thinks that Dave is gay and as it turns out, he might be right. Dave is haunted by memories of his college roommate, Matt, with whom he had a brief sexual relationship. Although Dave is questioning his sexuality, he feels that he has lost his opportunity to experiment. However, while working a special event for the museum, Dave meets an attractive young patron and drives him home to Elsie Street. They plan to see each other again in a month. Before they part they kiss passionately, but Dave declines Aaron’s invitation upstairs. When Dave tells Janine about Aaron she is neither surprised nor upset. The next time that Aaron and Dave meet they have sex and confess to one another that they are in love. They also talk about their difficult pasts and family lives. When Dave goes home, he admits to Janine that he is in love and she asks him to move out. He then moves in with Aaron. Shortly after this, Dave runs into his old roommate Matt. Matt is about to get married, but wants to see Dave before the wedding. When Dave tells Aaron about the encounter, Aaron suggests that Dave and Matt could have sex. Although this temporarily complicates things for Dave and Aaron, their relationship survives the turmoil.
The author uses casual language and cliches, the end of the story is very sudden, and the relationships portrayed are unhealthy and unrealistic. For instance, although Dave and Janine have an open relationship, Dave does not have other partners and is clearly uncomfortable with Janine having other partners. However, he does not feel comfortable communicating this with her and feels betrayed. Also, Janine has sex with Mike, leaving Dave in an uncomfortable work situation and Dave and Aaron tell each other that they are in love after only the second time they meet. Despite its shortcomings, West’s Elsie Street is an fast-paced, steamy read that demonstrates that it is never too late to reevaluate your identity and find happiness.
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