“This thing about you that you think is your flaw – it’s the reason I’m falling in love with you.” – Colleen Hoover
Title: Raising the Rent
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 88 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Rent boy rule number one: Never fall in love with a customer.
Life as a rent boy is not a long-term career goal for Nathan, who’s determined to get an education. But when he turns up for his first day at college he’s horrified to find his English teacher is one of his regular customers: Stephen, the one Nathan dubbed The Voice for his educated, honeyed tones.
Stephen’s just as shocked to see Nathan sitting in his class, not to mention terrified he’s about to be exposed as having paid for sex with a student—which would mean public humiliation and maybe the loss of his job. Yet it’s clear Nathan is only interested in getting his A Levels, not in blackmail. And Stephen realizes there’s more to the nineteen-year-old than meets the eye.
Nathan still has to earn a living, though, and when a customer turns ugly, he finds himself homeless and unable to work. Stephen steps in to help, and Nathan starts to think they could have a future together—if Stephen’s guilt and lack of trust don’t end their back-to-front romance before it starts.
Review: It is really a true delight when an author consistently puts forth incredible novellas that are so rich in detail and boast well defined characters who just capture your interest from the moment you meet them. I am speaking of author JL Merrow, of course, and her latest story Raising the Rent.
Nathan is a rent boy. In order to pay the rent and be able to take his qualifying levels for university, he has taken to the streets where he sells himself most nights for the money it will gain him. His life is hand to mouth and he manages to garner a few regular customers, one of which he calls “The Voice”. Every Thursday night like clockwork, the man with the golden voice shows up seeking Nathan’s attention. Imagine Nathan’s shock when the first day in class he hears the very same voice that spoke to him in the dark while he was on his knees, fumbling to pleasure the man. Yes, his Thursday night regular is none other than his new English professor. Each day in class, Nathan fantasizes about a better life, but a vicious physical attack leaves him helpless and hospitalized and shortly after, homeless and destitute. Will his Professor swoop in to save the day? Or will Nathan be left to find his own way in the dark once again?
I could say many things about this story. I could tell you that Nathan was so beautifully written, a struggling young adult who had lost his mother and suffered at the hands of an abusive stepfather. I could recount how his plight tugged at my heart, and how each time he refused to be pushed down and struggled to regain his footing I felt like cheering. I would add that the Professor, Stephen, was such a wounded soul who had aloof down pat, who so desperately needed to start living again. Then I could finally explain that all this wonderful character development, along with a strong, flowing storyline occurred in fewer than 90 pages of text. That, dear readers, is how you write an excellent short story. You take interesting people under extraordinary circumstances, throw in a dash of emotional upheaval, and you end up with a delicious romance that leaves you smiling and satisfied.
JL Merrow’s Raising The Rent is a gorgeous tale of two needy hearts finding one another in the dark. I highly recommend it to you!
You can pre-order Raising the Rent here: