“Sometimes a “mistake” can end up being the best decision you ever make.” – Mandy Hale
Title: Last Chance Charlie
Author: Ryan Loveless
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 198 Pages
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Blurb: Charlie Corcoran is the best thing about twenty-five-year old Zach Prentiss’s life. Sure, they’ve never met. Charlie’s never seen Zach from the neck up, but because of Charlie, for a few hours Zach can forget about his sick father, his falling grades, and his dwindling clientele who don’t like that he’s a rentboy who ages. With Charlie, he talks online about comics, cars, and movies. Then a new client arrives. It’s Charlie wanting sex tips… for a date with Zach. Zach goes through with the appointment, convinced it’s over if Charlie recognizes him. However, he doesn’t have long to nurse his broken heart or worry about Charlie’s before Charlie is back, wanting to take him out, introduce him to Mom, and treat him like he’s decent.
Review: Zach needs money—lots of it, and consistently if he is to keep his father in the care facility that will manage to give the man decent attention. So, he turns to an age-old profession as he struggles to finish his Master’s degree and hopefully land a job that will one day get him out from under the prostitution work he does. And, since no one would ever want to date a rentboy, Zach turns to internet chatrooms for companionship, where he finds it with Charlie. Sweet, naïve, virgin Charlie wants just one thing: to meet the man he has met onscreen but never seen face to face. But, due to a tossed off response by Zach about how “virgins are boring,” Charlie decides he must “educate” himself, and hires someone to teach him the finer arts of sex. You guessed it—he unknowingly hires Zach—the man he has fallen for online. Now, Zach must make a decision—tell Charlie he is Z-man from online and lose Charlie, or have just one night with him and then never see Charlie again.
Ryan Loveless’s Last Chance Charlie began so nicely. The premise was very interesting, and Zach proved himself to be such a good guy whom life had handed such insurmountable burdens. While it was shady exactly how Zach found his “mentor” Soren, and how it was possible that so many people around him seemed to know he was a prostitute and be okay with it, still the power of Zach’s personality and his plight made the story palatable, if not well worth the read. However, when Charlie finds out fairly early on about Zach’s real identity, and not only stays with him but fully accepts Zach’s chosen profession, I found my acceptance of the story begin to stretch and wane. Add to that several times when the story lurched forward in time and seemed to jump from one major plot point to the next, with little supporting story in between, and you then had a disjointed story that hovered near a fully unbelievable premise.
I could not understand how Charlie could be so desperate as to accept that his boyfriend was a full on rentboy who did everything, from allow himself to be tied up and roughly treated, to being spanked and sexually used as his client’s “son” and have some really disturbing sex with “Daddy”. But, where I really lost faith in this story was when Zach told his friends that they could stay in the bedroom while he had sex with a client in the kitchen. Really? And no one even blinked? Add to that his best friend, who was a lesbian, and her girlfriend, who had way to much interest in watching Charlie and Zach make out, much less want to be in the same apartment while Zach hooked up, and you have a story that just left me shaking my head all the way round.
Last Chance Charlie had all the elements it needed to be a sweet love story that overcame huge obstacles. Instead, it dissolved into a story that simply was too much to be believed, and left me uncaring as to whether these two guys made it through with their love for each other intact. I have read other work by this author and know that much of it was really worthwhile, so I can only chock this one up to a story that got out of control and lost its way.
You can buy Last Chance Charlie here: