Title: Dirty Mind
Author: Roe Horvat
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Length: 146 Pages
At a Glance: Roe Horvat has a knack for telling a great story centered around characters who are so easy to warm up to and root for.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Alexander Popescu is a university lecturer in a quiet German town. He’s a respectable man in his thirties who stays fit, has a decent career and travels alone—his only vice is an occasional greasy meal. And beer. And violent computer games. Nobody has to know about the other Alex—the acclaimed porn writer. His ingenious erotic fantasies earn him good money and keep his capricious mind harmlessly entertained.
When his young friend and protégé Christian transfers to Freiburg for medical school, Alex is overjoyed…and terrified that Christian will find out about Alex’s indecent alter ego. The time they spend together, as lovely as it is, could overturn Alex’s carefully balanced life. Suddenly, the writing is not good enough, his hair seems to be thinning, his careful hookups leave him unfulfilled, and his dreams are haunted by the innocent young man he’s vowed to protect.
However, Christian is not a boy any more. He’s a grown man of twenty-one, clever and deadly attractive. And he’s hiding some secrets of his own.
Review: I was nothing less than impressed by Roe Horvat’s debut short novel, The Layover, and he’s only gone on to prove that his successful first outing had nothing to do with beginner’s luck and every single thing to do with his knack for telling a great story centered around characters who are so easy to warm up to and root for.
I got the sense the author might have had some fun composing Dirty Mind because there are parts of it that read a bit cheeky, and I loved that about it. I also love that Alex’s dirty little secret is that he writes erotica in his free time, complete with lots of sex and porny dialogue, but then, in a nifty bit of romantic irony, he finds himself smack-dab in the middle of a meet-cute May/December story of his own, one that’s plenty sweet and just a little angsty too. And, of course, when the absolute fantasy of erotica is juxtaposed with the reality of Alex falling in love with Chis, it’s the perfect paradox.
Christian is a babe in the woods when Alex first lays eyes on the beautiful eighteen-year-old sitting alone at a bar in Spain. The wolves are on the prowl, and Alex recognizes immediately that Chris is out of his element, so, having a bit of fun with it, Alex swoops in to protect the young naif’s virtue and help him out of what’s quickly become an uncomfortable spot. Alex plays the fake boyfriend card, which is always such a fun trope, but rather than seeing that story angle all the way through to its end, it becomes, instead, the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And it’s this friendship, which grows over the next few years, that becomes a complication for Alex.
There’s so much risk involved in loving someone—it’s one of the greatest rewards of romantic fiction, seeing two people take a chance and make themselves entirely vulnerable to one another. The question for Alex in that risk is whether their friendship is more important than expressing his love for Christian. And, whether Alex can bear to see Chris with someone else at the expense of his own heart and happiness. Because Christian is young, there’s also the question of ‘will I be enough as I get older?’ weighing heavily in the back of Alex’s mind. But, there’s also the hope that he and Chris will get their happily-ever-after. I love the way Alex ends up falling in love with Chris as much as he does jumping right into it with both feet and heart in hand.
Even with the shorter page count, I would still call Dirty Mind a slow-burn romance—no insta-love involved—and I love the way that the pureness and sincerity of his feeling for Christian played against type for Alex, and how he was turned somewhat inside out when it came time to finally show Christian how he felt. Their connection and chemistry is real, their banter endearing, and Roe Horvat led me through the buildup of a relationship that crossed the line to romance in a way that had me pulling for them and believing in their future together.
Success number two from this author has me waiting with all eagerness for number three.
You can buy Dirty Mind here: