Review: This Charming Man, by Ajax Bell


cover-ajaxbell-thischarmingmanWill Seattle Make a Man of Him Yet?

On a night out in Seattle’s gay club scene, a chance encounter with an intriguing older man inspires Steven Frazier with visions of a more rewarding life. But when Steven abandons drugs and one-night stands, his loyal-but-venomous best friend won’t set him free without a fight. Must Steven sacrifice friendship—and forsake an unrequited love—to follow his dreams? As Steven’s horizons expand, his friends now include eclectic new arrivals, helping to keep his quest on track. Working to reinvent himself, Steven seeks to prove his worth, driven by exquisite longing for a charming man just out of his reach.

Both reflective and intensely sexy, This Charming Man is a novel about friendship, hope, and personal growth. This story captures the drama of coming into one’s own as an adult and creates a vibrant snapshot of Seattle in the early 1990s.


Dates read:
Edition read:
November 1, 2014
Jugum Press
Contemporary, M/M, LGBT+
358 e-book pages
3rd person
Queen City Boys, book 1
July 9-12, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Listen. This book…I FUCKING LOVED IT. I also hated it. Okay…hate is a strong word. And a lie. But damn there were parts that had me shaking my Kindle.

Lovely writing. Gorgeous. I was so excited about that because this was my first read by Ajax Bell, and I had to read this before reading newly released book two that I’ve had my eye on. This being a series, there’s a reading order that must be abided. My own weird rule and all.

The characters — if I wasn’t swooning over most of them I wanted to shake them or smack them upside the head. One dude I wanted to drop off in a desert somewhere without a canteen or his shoes.

Oh Steven…bless his little heart. When I wasn’t frustrated and wishing I could smack him upside his head he was adorable. So tied up in a toxic pseudo-relationship with an utter fuckwit of a bestie he can’t see his own worth. He knows what he wants, doesn’t know how to get it, even though all of his friends and even some acquaintances tell him. Repeatedly.

A personal pet peeve of mine is that one friend who asks what should I do, woe is me over and over. I’m usually the level headed one. My advice is usually pretty freaking sound…or else I’ll say I don’t have a clue because that’s just fucked up what you just said. But, if I (and countless others) give the same sound, level headed advice, and that friend doesn’t DO SOMETHING to solve the problem? Then…get out of my face with your problemz. Ya know?

That’s why I wanted to give Steven a little smack.

John is the object of Steven’s desire. And…I think he was pretty freaking perfect. We don’t get but a few snippets of interactions with him until they finally come together, so I don’t know that I had a full picture other than him being so amazingly perfect in all the ways and out of everyone’s league.

This is a S.L.O.W. burn folks….really slow. A year and 75% of the book. A lot of want and longing. A lot a lot.

I’m conflicted.

On one hand, that frustrated the hell out of me. I desperately wanted these guys together. Part of me started to become less and less interested in Steven’s dicking around…literal and figurative dicking that is.

On the other hand…maybe that was kind of the point. Maybe that was the journey the author wanted us to take, right along with Steven and all his longing. We live in this age of instant gratification. But what about the times instant is out of our grasp like it was for Steven? Some of us give up, some of us don’t.

Oh, and crushes suck. But I don’t have a third hand to delve into that.

“How would they ever fall in love if they didn’t spend time together?”

I’m weighing these thoughts, and kind of in awe of the author masterminding this whole thing. A year is a long time to have a crush and have to suffer through possible innuendo and flirtations not knowing if that’s what it is. Tossing out your own subtle plays without being so obvious lest you make an ass of yourself.

Part of my frustration was that I wanted a lot more time with Steven and John together. I’m greedy like that. But too, in romance, so much of it is experiencing the character’s togetherness — so it’s not unreasonable that I wanted that. I’m also trying to convince myself that the larger story here was Steven’s growth over the course of a year. The good friendships he had and how he cultivated them. He did grow, he did set some problems to rights. He transformed himself into someone who could be sure he was worthy of someone as perfect as John and feeling good enough in his skin to go after what he wanted with gusto.

“It wasn’t about money or being madly in love at first sight. It was just about being listened to, and another person trying to understand the things you cared about. But how to get that.”

Even though it took forever for the sparks to catch fire, what a fire it was. A little kinky, a little dirty. Spectacularly sweet.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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