Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love. – Gabriel García Márquez
Luke Corbin has a very practical attitude toward sex: If it gets him a roof over his head, food in his belly, and a free place to study as he works to get his English degree, then bartering his booty is fair enough trade to get what he wants. It’s okay if he eventually gets pinballed from roomie to roomie as long as he has a warm, dry place to land in the end. And if the man’s good looking, well, all the better.
When Luke’s latest sugardaddy gives him his walking papers, because Sebastian’s met The One, Luke takes it all in stride as part of the give-and-take business. It’s all part of the exchange of goods and services for him. But it doesn’t take long before he discovers that his usual trade routes are no longer viable options for the only thing he has to offer—himself—and he ends up depending upon the kindness of a complete stranger, who apparently isn’t at all interested in buying what Luke’s selling.
Russell Winchester is a chemical engineer, nothing special to look at, nerdy in all the usual ways, and not at all as well off as the men Luke usually ends up living with. And Russell certainly doesn’t have the one thing all those other men had—an ulterior motive. Not to mention he possesses an uncommon patience and kindness, and it doesn’t take long before Luke finds himself questioning pretty much everything he’s ever been sure of, trying to shoot himself in the arse at every opportunity, and wanting—wanting something he’d never wanted before, with the very man who at once was undesirable but now seems painfully unattainable.
I confess that I haven’t read a lot of J.L. Merrow’s work yet, but I can say that what I have read has kept me coming back for more. I’ll also confess that I bought this one for the title but liked it because the author’s characters are abundantly charming, and there’s a current of humor in that charm that I can’t help but love. Pricks and Pragmatism is one of those stories that, oh… Even though I didn’t always love the decisions Luke made, selling himself short at nearly every opportunity, I loved him, and I loved Russell for unwittingly helping Luke to see that he could be more, and that he could face the past, and that he could be The One for Russell, and that, most importantly for Luke, maybe, sex and love can be mutually inclusive events.
There was a slow buildup to this relationship, one that began as friendship and then eventually crossed the line into want and hope. It was sweet and believable, and I ended up wishing there’d been more at the end.